Amazon trip

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Posted by Doug Jeffries on 2013-02-18 15:14:49

To stay on Dan's good side (so maybe someday he'll take me fishing again now that we're two old 'tired guys), I'll put up this little report about a trip I just took to the Agua Boa Lodge in the Amazon.

The lodge is on the border of a nature reserve area and consists of 7 double occupancy cabins plus a dining hall / clubouse sort of gathering area. You get there via a 100 minute charter from Manaus, set your compass due north.

Meals are served buffet / family style in the dining hall. Breakfast typically had lots of cheese, cold cuts, fruit, breads (reminded me of many European style breakfasts), plus some hot meat (bacon, sausage) and eggs and pancakes. Tea, coffee and juices. Sometime during breakfast you wander over to the lunch buffet line and make your lunch. Typically sandwich fixings, fruits, crackers, cheese, and every day a wonderfully rich chocolate cake. John wraps is all in plastic wrap and puts it into a Tupperware container with a latching lid, that you haul to your assigned boat.

The boats dock right below the lodge on a floating dock. Don't lose your footing because Rex the 17 foot black caiman is usually lurking somewhere around the dock. I think this now the third or fourth "Rex" they've had.

You depart the dock around 7:15 - 7:30am. The mornings are cool and calm and it's the most beautiful time to be on the river with the best chance oof seeing some wildlife. As the sun rises the day will get hot, usually upper 80's with some humidity. No one in our group found it unbearable but you will soak a shirt when you get out of the breeze. Very few bugs due to the acidic, tannin stained water. The worst bugs were the sand flies around the lodge while we were sipping cold caiparihna's at dusk, watching the bats and swallows chase the sunset.

The river is divided into 6 zones an they try to have you fish each zone while there. But if you swap around fishing partners like we did there's a chance you won't fish them all. It doesn't matter because they are all good and all have their own little secrets and nuances. The guides typically fish the same beat all week so they also rotate through the various clients. All the guides are locals, most living in Boa Vista when they aren't at the lodge. They are all fun to fish with, laugh easily, are always up for a challenge or adventure, and really know their water. Their english is limited but we found it easy enough to communicate most things. If you wanted a photo all you had to do was start to pick up your camera and they'd slow the boat and start getting you into the best position for a view. They are all good naturalists and can call tapir and birds out of the bush. Pedro called three tapirs out of the bush one day and those anglers got some great photos.

The fishing is obviously peacock bass but there are many more species to see and catch. White and black pirahnas, jacunda, goggle eye, bicuda, dog fish, matrixhan, the fabled payara (one was caught and another lost by our group), several other species I can't name but they lok similar to mullet but they ate our big peacock flies like candy, and several species of catfish, one of which grows over 6 foot long with a bright red tail. Oh, and I should not leave off the pirarucu or arapaima and it's smaller cousin the aruana. I had four or five really great casts at a 100 lb pirarucu that stayed high enough in the water that we could see it. I got a head turn and a short follow but no takes. There were lots of aruana this trip and one of 8 lbs was caught.

I felt like the fish were a little more choosey on the flies this trip than in the past, perhaps because of the really low water. (Low water is good if you like stalking and site fishing). My best fly was a simple white / gray / grizzly deceiver tied flashtail style and with lots of flash in the body as well. But chartruese / yellow; green / white; blue / white; tan / white all worked. The only flies my guides never liked were all dark flies. I tied all my flies on 3/0 or 4/0 hooks and 3/0 60 degree jig hooks. I tied some without weight, some with lead wraps, some with big beadchain and some with big lead barbell eyes. It's best to go prepared for water depth and condition more than colors and styles. We fished mostly full floated in the shallower beats and 250 grain Tropic Expresses in the deeper lagoons and runs. For terminal tackle, keep it simple. Loop on about 6 feet of 30 or 40lb mono and tie on your fly with a loop knot. These fish love to dive for structure so the extra heavy tippet helps extract them or keep them from breaking off until your guide can dive down and extract them (or you if you want).

We returned to the dock around 4:30 - 5pm and were met daily by John with an icey cold caipirahna, best in Brazil. They always had a couple trays of snacks prepared and dinner was served around 7pm. Dinners were soup, followed by a meat, potato, and vegetable course (usually chicken, pork or beef, we had some excellent steaks one evening), and then there is Pirahna Night. Grilled whole pirahna - mmm mmm tasty. They always prepared a dessert of flan or a pudding cake sort of thing. No one went away hungry or dissatisfied. There is a big cooler of water, soft drinks, and beer always stocked.

But in my opinion, the best thing about this destination is that Amazon jungle and all that it hides. Y0u can fish all day. The boats fish two people but just fine but when it's mine turn in the middle seat I prefer to use my binoculars and camera. I usually set up a rod with a lighter fly for aruana and then set back to observe the jungle. We saw caiman, three species of monkeys, tapirs, red-rumped agouti, peccaries, capybaras, both pink and gray river dolphins, giant river otters. I saw several lizards I can't positively identify and surprisingly, no snakes this trip (and I spend quite a bit of time looking for snakes). It is a fascinating, educational, and other worldly beautiful place. If you like the outdoors, try to get to the Amazon.

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