World Class Peacock Bass Adventures

World Class Peacock Bass Adventures

Planning more than a year in advance for a fishing trip to an exotic destination in a faraway country seems to take forever for the departure date to finally arrive. However, once it does, the seven days of fishing goes by in the blink of an eye. Our group of eight were ready to make the long trek to Manaus, Brazil where we would spend a day touring the town, and the next day wrestling a 150-pound prehistoric fish that resembled something akin to a hybrid of a tarpon and alligator gar. The Arapaima is not a fish to be downplayed. It is adapted to breathe air as well as in water, rolls like a tarpon, and has more power and stamina than any fish I’ve ever battled.

We met The Pastor, as he is known, in the lobby of the TRYP hotel in Manaus where four of us embarked on an hour-long drive to his residence well outside the city. We rigged heavy-duty spinning reels with 100-pound braided line, paired with good old Ugly Stick fishing rods. It was quite the challenge casting topwater lures in big ponds where these beasts were actively rolling, but clearly ignoring our offerings. We fished the big plugs until well past midday without so much as a sniff.

After a short lunch break at the Pastor’s home, we traveled further back to other ponds where even larger Arapaima roamed. The Pastor took my topwater and rigged a fresh-dead sardine, as he called it, and pointed to a spot to make a cast. Within seconds I was hooked up and the battle was on.

The giant silver-armored fish tangled me around some old wooden pilings and I feared it was only seconds until the line would break. I did what any reasonable angler would do and jumped in the water, chasing the fish through the pilings. I loosened my drag and we maneuvered my line around the splintery lumber. Ten minutes later I had my arms wrapped around the enormous body of this trophy that was estimated to be more than 150 pounds. Believe me when I say it was one heck of an experience.

The rest of our group had arrived at the hotel and the next morning we boarded a small 8-seater float plane for a three-hour flight into the Amazon jungle that would be our home for six days. Shortly after we took flight the pilot was tapping his finger on the plane’s fuel gauge. Rather than trust the possibility of a faulty reading, he turned the plane around and had us back on the tarmac in short order to physically verify the fuel status. Fuel supply confirmed, we were once again airborne, this time reaching our destination and making a smooth landing on the Curi Curiari river.

I recognized these waters from the prior year’s trip, and also noted that the water level was low, the best possible conditions for hunting world-record the Peacock Bass for which the Curi Curiari is known. My partner for this trip was Terri Rushing-Hildreth. A petite lady who stands barely five-feet. Terri’s interest in fishing the Amazon region had been piqued when she attended our Texas Women Anglers Fish Camp in 2022.

I can reinforce that old adage to never judge a book by its cover, nor a woman by her physical stature. I was a little concerned that she would be able to deal with the rigors inherent with fishing the Amazon jungle, but to her credit, when it was all said and done she had earned the title of Super Trooper!

I knew our guide, Eder Dossontos, from prior trips, and I knew he was going to push me to throw the largest topwaters in our arsenal – the incredibly effective and physically demanding Woodchoppers.

After only a few casts you know it’s going to be a long day because this beast of a surface lure will have muscles aching that you didn’t even know you have. It didn’t take long until the butt of the rod produced a bruise on my hip and I often found myself yearning for a lighter setup. That said, our group all landed nice fish the first several days, up to 21 pounds. The weather was great, with little to no rain in the forecast and we were optimistic for the days ahead.

The food and beverage onboard the Blackwater Adventurer are absolutely second to none. Each day the chef and kitchen crew prepared excellent meals, better than you could ever imagine, being as far off the grid as we were. Filet mignon and fresh fish, and everything in between.

If you recall my Amazon recap from last year, I managed to land a new world-record in the length category for Peacock Bass at 93+ centimeters. Unfortunately, due to an oversight, we failed to properly record the fish prior to release and the record was not certified. So, the world record for length of Peacock Bass continued to stand at 92 centimeters. But this was a new year and, hopefully, another shot at the record. This time though, if I might be so lucky, I was determined to follow the all rules to the letter while videoing the measurement of the fish with my iPhone.

We made a long run up the river on our fourth day and pulled into a familiar area. I can still hear Eder urging me, “Chop…Chop!” After three grueling days of the woodchopper, let’s just say I was a little less than anxious, but Eder insisted. He was holding the boat at the mouth of a lagoon as I reluctantly picked up that same stiff rod with the Shimano Curado 200…and that same obnoxious chunk of wood with huge treble hooks.

I laid a long cast and made two chops. The fish came out of nowhere and was air-borne as it absolutely crushed the lure that I love to hate. The fight was on!

I knew it was a big fish, and I also knew it was going to be hard to land. The shoreline was full of downed trees, limbs projecting at every angle in the water. It made a hard run toward the timber. Risky, for sure; but I thumbed the spool of 60lb braid anyway as insurance to prevent the fish getting into the brush. In the nick of time and within inches of tangling, the fish slowed and I was able to steer it back to open water.

I finally landed the beast. We wasted no time in breaking out an official BGFA (Brazilian Game Fish Association) measuring board and, to our surprise, it taped at just a tad longer than 92 centimeters! We documented everything carefully with photos and videos. The fish was released healthy and strong and we were pumped to say the least.

Most anglers on our trip caught Peacocks well over 15 pounds with the largest weighing 24.25 pounds. Our group also caught tons of big Butterfly Bass, and Piranha. Terri landed a massive Shovelnose Catfish, along with a 20-pound Peacock. There is simply not enough space to fill in all the blanks and questions you may have about a trip like this. That said, feel free to reach out and I can fill in those blanks.

The folks over at Acute Angling and Curi CuriariaBR do a great job in making a trip like this run smooth and seamless. This is not a trip for the timid or inexperienced, but is definitely a world-class trophy fishing trip. The weather is hot and humid; after all, it’s a tropical rainforest. There are plenty of annoying flies and other insects, but surprisingly, no mosquitos.

I submitted my Peacock to BGFA and received notification on November 17, 2023 that it was being accepted as an official record at 92cm length. I also submitted it to the IGFA. However, it will not be accepted as a new world record in the length category for Peacock Bass as we did not measure the fish on an official IGFA measuring device. That said, IGFA has accepted and entered my fish in their IGFA Trophy Club, given that photo and video documentation qualified for that award.

I have already booked to return in 2024 and 2025, and I can’t wait to go back.