The Kalua sailed all night, up a smaller river (we speak of a only 200m wide one !). Amazonian nights respond to the very local tradition of fartura brasilera. Abundance is a key word in Brazil, whether it is the size of the river here, or the amount of food Brazilians put in their plates or the number of species that exists in the forest. You have never seen such dark nights as Amazonian ones, I desperately try, opening my eyes wider and wider, but unable to see a star, a reflection, the trees canopy, or even the water that pushes the boat. We are skimming across pure dark ink.
Because the water is unseasonably high, Danilo my gentleman partner and I decided to bring on board some baitcasting tackle since the fish have decided to move from the middle and hide in the trees, deep in the trunks, under the foliage. Very complicated to stick a fly in there…
Ian kindly lent me an Xtra-Heavy casting rod, and reel with a left-handed crank (YESS!!!) and a few lures I liked immediately because of the beating they had received from the 200 fishs that has jumped on it.
Nazareno is now driving the screaming boat upstream, a couple of parrots fly over us and cry loudly, irritated to be disturbed by such noise. The boat glides over the water, toward the horizon. Pressure is rising.
We approach one of the countless lakes that feed into the river. The mouth of the lake is a favorite spot for big tucunarés (Portuguese for Peacock Bass) allowing them to watch for bait fish or possible rivals.
Indeed during my second cast the stickbait is blown away, jumps two feet out of the water. Beware cardiac people! Pretty surprising! It’s another classic characteristic of Peacock Bass fishing. When these fish are not eating they are defending their territory with fervor.
The tranquility of a lake, whether they are Amazonians, Canadian or Spanish always have this early morning ambient light with mist and shadow grazing off the water. You don’t want to ruin this magical moment, especially by hitting your rod’s butt on the floor of your metal boat Blaaam ! I apologize. But Nazareno just laughs, and assures me the tucunaré love noise.
Precisely at that moment, we hear another boat coming to the lake; it’s Rodrigo, Ian’s colorful partner, with his wife. Rodrigo is a carioca (who lives in Rio) who speaks loud and with many gestures; He is the kind of guy who will give you a good pat on the back the first time you meet. When he is fishing Rodrigo stays the same, he likes to be heard. He throws huge, propeller bait towards the shrouded trunks, while speaking with his wife, creating a sound which can only be compared to a mechanical lawn-mower: Vrroooom, Vrroooom. Rodrigo’s wife fishes, much more quietly, with a sinking minnow and soon catches a small tucunaré right out from under him (Always nice to see the ladies catching some fish!) Rodrigo rings out applause, then comments, roars with laughter, and kisses his wife then quickly goes back to his noisy toy. He is there for the big one!
On our side, we haven’t caught anything on this mind-blowing lake where vines fall on dead drowned trees, where the bushes are spread apart to create natural caves-great places for all the fish to hide. We leave the boss and his racket and we head to another spot.
As we open out the throttle to the max, Nazareno suddenly changes direction and goes right through the forest or almost… Close to the foliage, he slows down. Then like in a good Indiana Jones movie, the boat breaks through the branches and we enter the flooded forest. Awesome! The boat is now tacking in between a mess of trees, vines, floating boughs. Second surprise, there is a boat in front of us! But this time they are not friends from the Kalua, but contestants from another fishing company. My Bom Dia doesn’t echo at all, only the guides have a little head shake. Nazareno, leaves them the lake. But what about us?
Fortunately there was second entrance at the bottom of the first lake. Danilo, definitely full of surprises start to philosophize about Jean-Paul Sartre’s and the public bench in the park story. That’s two guys they both arrive see the bench and both believe it belongs to them. Luckily there is no one on this lake and like the others it looks damn promising.
After few casts in the bushes, I decide to throw my bait just in the middle of the lake. And Boom! I get a bite! It doesn’t seem very big but it surely shakes well… It’s a cachorro (dog in Portuguese). They look incredible and prehistoric with their two long teeth. Fishing continues. Minutes later, we are at the top of the lake where we are met with one of those currents that moves towards the bushes. Danilo casts and after three cranks the lure is hit, but the fish is simply under it, Danilo cranks more quickly and we can still see the V of the fish behind the bait… 15 meters left, the bait zigzags very quickly and at last the fish annoyed gives a good bite on it. Danilo begins fighting a decent 2 lbs peacock bass. Cast! Cast! yells at me Nazareno eyes glaze over.
My stickbait has just hit the water, I don’t have time to make him work before it disappears, swallowed without any noise but for a few bubbles on the water’s surface.
It’s too far to hook decently but the fish does it for me with a massive rush, I crank madly to avoid the fish going in some dead trees which border the sides of this lake…It seems strong but my rod is so stiff that I could bring back… a car! The fish is tamed pretty quickly. Nazareno has his fishing grip ready, this peacock bass is thick, brawny and darker. It’s a 6 pounder and hopefully a beginning….
On this same spot we will catch half a dozen of tucunarés, including some on the fly. Fishing is in progress in this Amazonian paradise !