The late December rains had brought an influx of new water into the system and the watershed was in flood stage.
After three hours of fruitless casting, we entered a small lagoon off the river. My fifth cast there was met with
success. After three pops of the topwater plug, a big peacock bass exploded on it and took off for the nearby sandbar. I snubbed it short and the fish turned and took to the air.
"Nice fish," my wife Lilliam shouted.
I worked the peacock near our boat and my regular guide, Careca, put a BogaGrip on the fish and lifted it up to check the weight. The 13-pounder was
then put back over the side and swam away strongly. It was good to find such a fish in the high, stained waters. It was also a little surprising, given the tough
conditions we were facing that morning.
We cast to a small movement in the corner of the small lagoon to no avail. Then as we turned to fish our way out of the little lake. I lobbed my Pavon Prop
surface plug to the far side on a secondary point and popped it twice. On the following pause, a giant rolled on the plug and headed to deeper water. I reared back and hung on.
The monster leaped in the air and startled all of us I think. I had believed that it was similar in size to the previous one. "Wow, what a fish," my wife said, as
our Indian representative jumped up and down with excitement.
Careca also got excited and immediately moved quickly to get the net. The giant surfaced again near the boat and we all got a good look at the 20-plus
pounder. It took off again for the depths and pulled drag. Two more times it did the same, but each surge away from the boat became less powerful. The
hooks and other tackle held and my guide soon slid the net under the fish.
The beautiful fish with large spawning hump on its forehead was 34 inches long and weighed 21 pounds on the certified scale. After a few photos, we
watched it swim off slowly back toward the point. A great battle and great fish!
That first day for us was a reasonably good one. But the tough conditions won out over us in much of the rest of the week. On day two, Florida angling
friend Ken Baker and his partner, Jack Morrison found a honey hole and "loaded the boat" with peacocks. Fishing with guide Lu, they caught and
released 120 peacocks concentrated along one 200-yard stretch of flooded bank in a lagoon off the Paduari River which is adjacent to the Preto.
Fishing jigs, the twosome focused on the concentration in the muddy water lagoon and worked their baits in the scattered brush back and forth to amass
the big number then and followed that up a day later with a tally of 86. No other boats got in on the mother-lode of peacocks. Not all of the fish were
small either. Ken captured a 23 pound 8 ounce peacock and Jack caught a 20 pound 12 ounce fish. They finished the week with 245 fish.
We also fished the Rio Negro east of Santa Isabel and in the Rio Ararira watershed closer to Barcelos. While the fishing was very slow, the 20 anglers
in our group caught and released a total of 519 peacock bass during the week. About two dozen of the fish weighed from 10 to 19 pounds, but the numbers
were a little deceiving since they included the big numbers of Baker and Morrison
The number of peacocks over 20 pounds caught by our group was significant, however. We had 13 overall. Fishing with guide Ze,
Pete Davison had a 20 pound, eight ounce fish and his 37-year old son Sandy caught the week's biggest peacock, a 24 pound, 14 ounce fish. Charles Allen with 3 fish over 20 pounds led the
Lilliam battled a 5-pound piranha and won, which provided great hors d'ouvres that evening in the dining room. Like the majority of
angers aboard the yacht, we didn't really pattern the fish. We caught peacocks on jigs, topwater plugs, flies, minnowbaits and a few other things.
The great things about the trip, other than the 20 pounders that were numerous, were the yacht which is a real pleasure to be on
and the beautiful weather we enjoyed while on the water. It did not rain the whole week! The waters actually fell a little each day.
Typical trips are 8 or 9 days in duration with 6 to 6 1/2 fishing days. Daily international flights of a little over 5
hours from Miami to Manaus connect the anglers to the gateway of the Amazon Rain Forest and a one to two
hour charter plane flight whisks eager "combatants" to the yacht positioned near the fishing grounds.