Peacock Bass in the Amazon

Our friend and Peacock Bass enthusiast Marcel de R. from Rio de Janeiro has had a busy summer of fly fishing in the Amazon with the completion of two trips this year. His first trip was to the Austral Amazon Basin, specifically to the Aripuana River where he had landed a 21 lb. Peacock Bass last year.

A nice bass taken from the flooded Amazon

The trip was almost a disaster; the water was too high due to the annual flooding conditions. The river was at a 50 year high, cresting at 19.8 meters over the normal level. The people who live along the river live in floating houses or on the few high ground river banks that can be found in some areas. Nature is on a pristine stage in the Amazon with an awesome array of animal life that is encountered around each bend of the river. Marcel and his group travel for 18 to 20 hours upriver, really very far away from any other humans or their civilization.

A black barred on the left and a tiger on the right

On their trip last year they encountered a black Jaguar swimming across the river. In the surprise of seeing such a beautiful animal so close, they couldn’t manage to find the camera they had stowed out of the weather until it was almost too late. Unfortunately it was late in the day with poor light and a blurry image was the result.
When the rivers reach such a flood level, the fish move up into the “woods” and feed voraciously on the fingerling’s and other small bait fish. They could hear them up in the jungle cover crashing baits all day long. In 5 days of fishing, 10 hours a day, only 11 fish were landed all under 4 lbs. That action was a result of a school of fish hanging near a rock in the river and then it was over! The next 4 1/2 days without a bite. It was devastating, but that’s the Amazon!

A tackle busting black barred peacock

Three weeks later he was there again this time on the Sucunduri River, this trip much better! No trophies but the fish were cooperative and they released 147 fish over 5 days of fishing with biggest fish weighing in at around 14 lbs. As they brought their hooked fish to the boat they could see a lot of some very big fish swimming just beneath the hooked ones looking for an opportunistic meal.  He saw some very, very big fish especially on the spawning beds. These encounters helped take the sting out of the first trip.

Caption here
Two more nice fish

Marcel uses a variety of toad flies that John Baker ties for us. He finds that the bass prefer them to any other fly he has tried. He has used both the foam and the standard fiber head toads in a variety of standard colors, a thickly tied marabou tail, tied on both 1/0 and 2/0 hooks.  Marcel likes a clear or ghost tip line and 12 to 14 foot leaders that he hand ties using “heavy mono” to help get the fish out of the heavy cover that he sometimes finds himself in.
If you’re planning a trip to the Amazon to go Peacock Bass fishing you can’t go wrong with the selection below.

Toad flies that John Baker ties for us.

Peacock Bass in the Amazon

A new friend to us here at Fly Fishing World Headquarters and Black Fly Outfitter, Marcel from Rio de Janeiro has sent us an interesting report of some great Peacock Bass fishing that he enjoys in the Amazon Basin. Marcel is an avid fly fisherman who is fortunate enough to be able to travel to some very interesting and off the beaten path fly fishing destinations. We have come to know Marcel through some recent purchases he has made through our Black Fly Outfitter online store. He found us on the web and ordered some of our tarpon toad flies along with some other travel items preparing for an upcoming trip to Belize and after that a trip to the Austral region of the Amazon Basin, specifically to the Madeira River. Marcel has been making an annual trip to the area for the last 10 years and has become a big fan of this hard hitting, hard fighting fish.

Marcel says they are abundant in these river waters but “like big tarpon, you have to have the “gift” of enticing them to eat a fly.” The average fish according to his report is in the 10 lb. range but in other reading I have done, I’ve found out that the peacock has attained IGFA documented weights of 27 pounds. Marcel has had reports of fish approaching the 34 pound range being caught in these Amazon waters. The fish that he is holding in the photo below weighed in at an impressive 21 pounds.


Marcel with a nice 21# peacock bass
Marcel with a nice 21# peacock bass

The reputation that the peacock has for demolishing tackle makes it an even more desirable gamefish to pursue with fly tackle. Marcel likes to use the tarpon toad patterns (see insert in the photo) rigged with a 60 pound bite tippet to entice these fish to eat. He tells us that when he returns from this year’s trip he will be calling us to replace what gear these brutes bust up and to restock the flies that will be destroyed in the process.

The peacock is not really a “bass” at all. Although it strongly resembles a largemouth in general size and shape, it is actually the largest American member of the cichlid family of fishes. More commonly called “pavon” in Latin American countries and “tucunare” in Brazil, peacock bass originate and thrive in South American waters. The real giants of the specie live in remote back-water lagoons off major tributaries in the Amazon drainage of Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia, but other countries, such as Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia all have waters that contribute to the massive Amazon watershed which abounds with peacock bass. The range of the peacock also has grown to include south Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Panama and Costa Rica.

We wish you a great trip Marcel and look forward to the report and photos that we will be able to share with our readers.