J. W. Smith of Rod & Gun Resources and our outfitter, River Plate Anglers, literally pioneered peacock bass fishing in Brazil, exploring remote headwater rivers for over 30 years. Peacock bass are arguably, pound-for-pound, the hardest fighting freshwater fish in existence – breaking 65-pound braided line and straightening 4/0 hooks. Rod & Gun Resources’ fishermen commonly catch 20 to 30 peacock bass each day, from the 3- to 6-pound “butterflies” to the 8- to 25-pound “barred” or “paca” super-lunkers.
The keys to our extraordinary peacock bass fishing are:
- Our outfitter whisks fishermen via state-of-the-art Cessna Caravan floatplane, or wheelplane aircraft and fast boat directly from the Manaus, Brazil airport to pristine fishing locations far (often hundreds of miles) from the overfished melee of competing lodges and houseboats – and delivers them right at their camp.
- Our cabin train concept is a breakthrough in placing comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations in previously inaccessible locations where large populations of hungry peacock bass have seldom or never seen a lure or fly.
- Our anglers fish the exclusive waters of Indian Reserves so there is no competition from other outfitters.
- Travel times to peacock bass fish each day average 10-20 minutes for our clients. Other outfitters routinely travel an hour or more from fixed lodges or big houseboats.
- We do not overfish – our mobility allows us to move to fresh water every few days or even daily.
- Our peacock bass fishing boats are custom-constructed for this specific environment. Twenty-one feet long and very stable, the boats’ shallow-draft tunnel design can traverse almost any level of water, including virtually landlocked lagoons.
- Our extremely knowledgeable fishing guides are literally partners in the business with us. Anglers fish two per boat with these cheerful and talented Brazilians. Each guide is well-versed in the nuances of bait casting, spin casting and fly fishing. They speak enough “fishing English” to communicate effectively and are intimately familiar with the fishing resources and how to find concentrations of peacock bass.
PEACOCK HABITS AND ANGLING HINTS
- Like largemouth bass, peacocks often prefer “structure” of some sort. Rocks, fallen logs, points and sand bars are hiding places for baitfish, so this is where the peacock will usually lurk. Of course, you should always heed the guide’s recommendations on where to cast.
- Peacocks usually roam about in small schools searching for baitfish, often bursting into a feeding frenzy. When this situation is encountered, get your lure or fly in front of the feeding fish as soon as possible. The sooner you can cast to them after they’ve been spotted, the better your chance of a hookup. Peacocks are greedy and highly competitive schooling fish. Always cast a free lure or fly right next to any hooked fish. Another peacock will almost always be close by (attracted by the commotion). If no strikes result, fish the surrounding area thoroughly.
- Novice peacock anglers tend to set the hook too fast when fishing topwater poppers or flies. Often peacocks will just slap at the lure to stun it, then come back around and firmly grab it on the second pass. It’s hard to remember at first, but don’t set the hook on the strike. If you can’t see the plug, popper or fly after about one second, drop your rod tip and set the hook with your stripping hand.
- If the fish doesn’t take the lure on the first strike, keep it moving. If you are patient, the fish will usually come up and hit the lure a second or third time. If he loses interest, quickly cast a diving (subsurface) lure or fly. This often elicits another strike.
- Never try and “horse” a big peacock, and don’t underestimate his power. If a big fish is headed for structure, apply side pressure to the rod trying to ‘steer’ the fish in another direction. If you crank your drag down too tight, they’ll almost always snap the line, or pull off. If a fish does make it into cover, don’t give up. Give a little slack and wait for the boat to spook the fish out of its hiding place—they’ll often untangle themselves. When a fish comes to the boat, never assume it’s ready to give up. Always keep a high rod tip and a loose drag to absorb last minute runs.
- Lure or fly color doesn’t seem as important as lure or fly shade. If it is bright out, use a light-colored fly. Dark shades are more productive in low light conditions.
CATCH AND RELEASE
To further ensure the survival of released peacock bass, we use rubberized mesh landing nets to protect the fish’s outer skin. Trophy peacock bass weighing 16 pounds or more will be weighed in the net in a horizontal position. Never weigh fish vertically as this puts strain and stretch on a fish used to the support of water pressure. Weighing fish vertically can cause spine and other injuries to the fish. The Boga Grip is still used to control the fish, but never hold the fish in an unsupported vertical position from the Boga Grip. Hold fish horizontally while photographing and then quickly return them to the water. Take time to fully revive the fish and release it in shallow water (one foot or so). A tired fish that is not fully revived is very vulnerable to predators such as dolphins and piranhas.