Sunday, October 28, 2018

All Epic Trips Have Eventually Come to an End … Farewell Rio Marié, Farewell Temensis Rex!

We had one more day of fishing. Untamed Amazon did again move upriver during dinner. Awesome – one enjoys dinner, sips a decent Argentinian Malbec and in the background of the big panoramic dining room windows the jungle passes by! 

Thus the next day we would have fresh water again. The vessel anchored close to the entrance of a creek. A creek that was only fished in the exploration season of 2014. Next morning we would fish kind of virgin water again!



As we drove upriver in that tributary the thought of being one of very few humans that fished and visited that place was overwhelming. I got goose bumps at every bend of that small creek! Loved it!
Fishing was mixed to good. We found a couple of pots and spots of several Butterflies. Breno checked in again for the 4-7lbs fish and I for the smaller ones and far less. At the end of the day we would have caught more than 40 Butterflies. Had a nice fish barbecue with some bees flying around and went back to the main river and upstream after the lunch to spend our last hours fishing at Rio Marié. As if the fishing god was close to us we both landed a good sized GPB to end that trip. Breno got a good fish of 76cm and around 16lbs and I caught a smaller one to finish the trip of something of around 70cm and 13-14lbs.

Last cast, very last cast, final cast. That was Rio Marié! 

I got the unofficial world record with the biggest GPB ever caught on fly up to date, got another fish of 23lbs and had an awesome time with my friend Breno, the Russian team and the lovely crew. Thank you for all that! Thank you to ALL on site, back home and elsewhere that made this trip such a blast!

If you are in pursuit of GPB with the fly, Rio Marié is the ultimate place to go. You will have the best chances to catch a fish beyond the magic 20lbs mark. The whole setting is marvelous! The fishing is kind of work and does not provide the visual appeal of NZ trout fishing in gin clear water or the crazy stuff you might experience fishing for Golden Dorado. But if you are interested in the best fishing destinations possible: book your slot now! You might experience one of your best fishing days and will fish one of the very last virgin spots on this globe.

Questions of any kind (tackle, background, booking, advice, …)? Contact me.

If you like what you read: share it via social media and tell your fishing buddies!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Deep in the Amazon Jungle — Rio Marié — Exploring Upstream in Search of Giant Peacock Bass

(Before you read that episode make sure you have a look at episode 5 as this is the point of reference for the following comments)

In case you consider booking your slot at Rio Marié, do not expect to catch record fish, do not take it for granted. Still, Rio Marié is without any doubt the very best place with the highest chance on this planet to catch a +20lbs Giant Peacock Bass. Word. 

So if you are a decent and seasoned fisherman (that means casting 18-20 meters more or less a whole day and knowing what to do), you might have a relatively high chance to catch a +20lbs GPB – but no guarantee! Do not complain about “not enough big fish”. Fishing is special and might be kind of boring at times, but if you are in GPB-fly fishing and want to catch a big one or if you want to fish in one of the last virgin spots, Rio Marié is the very best place to go! 

It was that night that Untamed Amazon would be relocated and moved further upstream after we finished fishing around 5 pm that day. All boats were daisy chained behind the big boat and we started the engines to continue our way upriver. We had appetizers and eventually dinner on a moving ship right in the middle of the jungle. That feeling alone was just awesome! In the meantime it got dark and eventually pitch black outside and we were going up a river that became tighter and smaller mile by mile. 

Orleans the Boat Principal aka Captain and its copilots or so called deck hands navigated the vessel upstream. Remember it was pitch black night. They once in a while pointed out the shore with a very bright beam of a big spotlight to check their location. I followed our route with my iPhone and Google Maps and was totally fascinated, taking several long exposure shots with my tripod from our balcony right at the bow of the ship of that scenery: a moving ship with the light beam wandering around. Later Breno and I went to the bridge of the ship. In the beginning an assistant and later on Orleans himself maneuvered the big vessel upstream through the darkness. It took several minutes before Breno and I could see anything on the pitch black bridge looking outside. 

Only the spotlight beam gave an impression where we were on the river in respect to the banks, numerous twists and bends of the river. Aware of a very narrow section of the river followed by and immediate bend that I figured out from the map I was curious how we would continue and navigate that bottleneck at night. We did not dare to ask the captain as the atmosphere on the bridge was highly concentrated and only very few words exchanged. But it soon turned out that we would anchor just a few hundred meters downstream of that challenging section on a perfectly suited beach. The touch down on this beach was handled by Orleans with exceptional care and caution. Untamed Amazon touched the beach as if you would gently touch the face of your beloved one. 

Imagine, it is most likely the very last you want to experience an out of control vessel of that size on a pitch black river in the upper Amazon. Horrible thought.

Impressions like these on the bridge are a lasting part of such a trip and a detail that is normally not available to a client.

I mentioned before that the fishing was only one (though important) aspect of this venue. A big part was provided by the various mentioned factors: comfortable ship, motivated, skilled and friendly crew, awesome location, good food and excellent service. To do the kitchen some justice and to provide some samples of meals Leandro and his team created: Thank you for that great part!

Knowing that it is hard to keep up the good mood on such a vessel among the crew, it will be a challenge to foster the spirit and good attitude. This needs to be done and supported by a good team, fair leaders, good food and sufficient rest for the team. Not easy but needed. 
On the fifth day we would fish upstream Rio Marié again and Untamed Amazon would follow us, thus again another spot for the night. Imagine that, isn’t that awesome! We would reach a section of the river that probably was only fished during the scouting phase in 2014 by western fly fisher and before that most likely only a couple of times since the beginning of time by humans at all. Virgin water!


We fished it – with some success. One of the better fish of the day was a GPB of around 77cm (14-16lbs? cannot remember). On that day Breno started to get an appointment for the remaining days with large Butterflies – he constantly caught these in the 4-6lbs and even touching the 7lbs range. I checked in for the remaining smaller ones. 

Again this afternoon a storm front build up. The thunder and lightning was coming closer and closer. We fished one of those smaller bays of the main river with some bites but not much success. Breno and I briefly communicated and agreed “let’s fish for another 15 minutes and then get back to Untamed Amazon before the storm would hit us” – it was just after 4pm. But both of us had eased our fish-thirst so we were willing to call it a day rather early. Exactly that we did just minutes after as the storm approached and hit us within minutes. Lightning very close by, we in the middle of the open river, heavy hard rain, we were totally soaked reaching Untamed Amazon close by and we were relieved not being fried by a lightning strike. It does not help to know that your chances to survive a lightning strike are something of around 70% - I just do not want to experience that.

Shower (semi warm, as there was no real hot water on Untamed Amazon) and a warming coffee did the job, only a piece of cake was missing.

 Stay tuned for the last day of that awesome trip!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Rio Marié - The largest Giant Peacock Bass ever caught on fly!

Our fourth day of our great adventure was guided by Agustin. Agustin spend the first part of the season at Kendjam, guiding there the first regular season with the new lodge (see my Kendjam Blog about Breno and my visit during exploration Season 2015 to this highly regarded Untamed destination). This morning in the bot, more ironically joking than serious I said: “I am going to catch a 28lbs fish today!”

Fishing was again cast by cast to the shore and towards structure. Some fish to the boat. But not so many. We fished a lake with some freshwater Dolphin action. This made me put on my 70-200 2,8 Canon lens and taking some hundred shots of breathing Dolphins. To take a proper shot of them is kind of a challenge, as they are very quick. So only a low percentage of the shots would be sharp and relevant.

I was kind of distracted and took it very easy, several times switching between the fishing rod and the camera to take shots of the freshwater dolphins. As usual we changed the location several times to fish the various types of structure from lakes to lagoons to creek mouths. Eventually we fished a big lagoon with sunken trees providing the perfect habitat for the really big GPB. To that point it was a rather slow day, not many fish to the boat. I had changed my fly some time ago to a rather small white Deceiver with some grey/ blue sprinkled in that I must have tied several years ago for a saltwater trip. With this kind of fishing it is crucial that you are always focused on your fishing as you don’t want to spoil your low number of chances on a really good fish. Thus, either fish concentrated or make a break. I tried to keep my concentration as high as I could…

Fishing the mentioned self-tied fly on a 300 something grain sink-tip line on my 9 weight rod, letting it sink for several seconds to get it close to the ground, I started a slow retrieve with some shorter quicker pulls mixed in to trigger a possible following fish…

Not at the bank but kind of close I got a solid hook up and an obviously decent fish was hooked. That was not one of those Butterfly Bass that explodes but a solid powerful mass of fish. With those bigger GPBs the immediate judgment of its weight is hard as their behavior can be highly different. Some burst and dart away over 15 meters, as a good fish on Breno’s fly did (+16,5lbs) or show limited strength and can be dominated quickly as my 23lbs GPB from the day before. The fish on my line was possibly stronger as it showed a lot of energy right in the tight space between sunken trees, the close shore and the boat moving boat in the upcoming wind gusts. To add thrill I got a knot in my line (it might have been a freshwater line, but the tendency of lines to tangle was not much less with specific warm water lines, this specific line was a Vision as it was the only available at a German mail-order shop a year ago), Agustin was able to solve that while I was holding and fighting the fish with the remaining line. The fish knew its territory and managed to wrap the line at least half around one of those trunks of a sunken tree which are the home of these fish. This obstacle was solved by me and the fish showed its full beauty for the first time on the surface.


WOW! That was huge! The local guide tried to net it but as usual the fish got angry facing the net and darted away. It was kind of nerve wrecking – this was not one of those 7lbs NZ SI trout that you would prefer to land, but if you would miss it, you might catch another one in the next pool – this was a decent or even a very large GPB! A fish that thousands of fly fisher (and bait fisher) pursue to catch for years. So all of us – especially Breno, to make me quit moaning about casting the whole day - really wanted to land it! The next attempt to net it did again not succeed, I was afraid that the barbless fly would come loose and just pop out. If that would happen the whole jungle would hear some very angry Bavarian swearing (normally I do not swear because of a lost fish, mostly I laugh heartedly about myself, but in that case I would make an exception). Again the netting attempt did not work but the fourth attempt succeeded! Fish on board and just there we saw its size and weight. The IGFA scale and measure showed the measurements: just shy of 13kg, thus around 28,5lbs and +90cm (on some pictures of the measurement it looks more like +92cm)!

Holy shit – just about now we realized that this fish was not an “ordinary +20lbs GPB” but the most likely biggest Giant Peacock Bass ever caught on fly up to date!

No more words needed.

The crew was excited, Breno was excited and lucky that I could not further complain about this “boring casting casting…” and I felled a total new feeling I never had with fishing: kind of sports like satisfaction. Thankful, speechless, …

One annotation to documenting and landing that fish: Everybody aware of the IGFA rules knows by my report that this was not an IGFA-conform World Record but most likely just the largest ever caught GPB on fly. With IGFA I would have needed to use a 20lbs class tippet (which is kind of crazy with these fish, as it might lengthen the fight unnecessarily and or might end in a breakoff) and nobody would have been allowed to touch any of my tackle during fight and the fish would have been measured out of the net on the measures. We did not do any extreme posing pictures, so the fish size is not over exaggerated, the pictures rather understate its size especially compared to my tall size.

I am not a fisherman that needs or seeks attention as long as I am satisfied myself and had a good time out on the water. Thus I asked the team to not tell anything about it to the other guests. Celebrating the joy silently was the way. Only the locals spread the word and I got several thumbs up (real ones, not the virtual ones)... Stay tuned for the next days of this awesome trip!

If you are interested in a trip to Rio Marié for Giant Peacock Bass contact me or Untamed Angling

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

+20 lbs Giant Peacock Bass - welcome to the Club!

Third day we were assigned to Paulo the head guide of the team. All of us headed up the main river Rio Marié as Untamed Amazon would follow us during the day. What did we do? Fishing! Casting, casting, casting, … 


To shorten the day a little: Once of a sudden close to noon I had a strong pull on my line. I was always wondering how it would be to be connected to one of those realt big GPBs. I was expecting not to be able to stop such a +20lbs Asu/ GPB as the much smaller Butterfly Bass were so strong. Now I was attached to a good fish on my line (a 300 grain sink tip), it was strong but far from unstoppable, it was not such a freight train I would have expected. 

On 60lbs tippet and a 9# rod you can pretty much hold the fish on a short line and it might do several darts but a long run in to your backing is not the norm. After a few hard but kind of short pulls that fish was safely landed. Compared to the normal behavior of a fish of that size I must have caught it in its siesta. 

Weighting on IGFA approved scales showed 23lbs and 84cm. Yahoo! I was in the +20lbs Giant Peacock Bass Club, the community most of the serious GPB-fishermen seek to be part of. Did it make a difference? At that very moment yes. To illustrate the quality of Marié and the chance to catch a +20lba GPB: this very day two other GPBs beyond that magical mark were caught. The largest was 24lbs.


What kind of flies did we use? Barbless, strictly barbless, as only barbless fish count and as barbless is the way to treat the fish in the best possible way. Assuming that you are a good fisherman, the likelihood to lose a decent fish due to barbless is very low.

Again, what kind of flies did we use? Pretty much anything that can be tied. Mostly we fished deceiver stile flies with sinking line (WF-8/9 300-350 Grain due to the rather high water, later in the season intermediate tip might be the appropriate) in yellow, green, orange and even white/blue. Some flash is good. Not much action on surface flies as water level was rather high in our last week of September 2016. I tied a lot of flies and some big poppers before the trip and only used them very little. Later in the season popper and poledancer are said to be the way to go. We lost very few flies, less than three to five per week. As long as your line, connection and leader are 100% good there is only the chance to lose a fly to one of the odd Piranhas or on a snack that cannot be retrieved. In case you need some, the lodge has some flies as backup to buy.





Besides the once in a while Giant Peacock Bass - that was introduced to us by Paulo on the first evening with this comment “you will have zero to two chances a day to catch a Giant Peacock Bass” (he was right with that) – you and your fishing partner in the boat might catch anything between zero and fifty Butterfly Bass during a day. These fish in the range of 2-7 lbs fight the best pound by pound of all the fish in the river. They will keep you motivated and make your fingers wet once in a while. If your fishing buddy catches one of these, cast close to that spot as you might catch another Butterfly or even a GPB, as they tend to follow the action. Besides fighting well the Butterflies look really awesome. Nice colors!

Weather during the day was slightly different every day. Sometimes we got just a short spell, sometimes a thunderstorm in the afternoon, some days just heat and melting in the sun. It is obvious to cover your skin by appropriate clothes and to use sun blocker for face, hands and in case you fish barefoot (which is the best way) a heavy layer of sunscreen on your feet. Stripping guards (take one backup!) or gloves are mandatory! The constant stripping and the fight will cut and shred your fingers in no time.

In case you handle limes for alcoholic drinks (better stay to lots of water and soft drinks!) or the once in a while fish barbecue, take very good care not to spill any lime juice drops on your skin and clean possible areas after lunch thoroughly with water. Otherwise you will experience what lime juice and sun can do: it will just burn your skin to stage 2 or even 3 injuries!