2020 will be a big year for fly-fishing outfitters, Untamed Angling. Early in the year we reported on the new El Faro lodge, which will be the first waterfront fly fishing lodge in all of Cuba, and now Untamed Angling has informed us that they will be opening a new operation on the Xingu River in the Kayapo Indigenous Nation’s territory in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.
While both Xingu lodge and El Faro lodge spent much of 2019 in their early experimental phases, where owners and guide staff spent the year dialing in all aspects of their future operations and fishing, 2020 will see both lodges accepting their very first customers in what the outfitter is calling its “Exploratory Season”, and you have the opportunity to be among the first to fish it! We’re excited to announce that Untamed Angling will be offering a chance for two lucky readers to be among the first to experience these new locations. More on this later, but first a word about both lodges. – Seth Fields, Editor
The Brazilian Amazon is no strange land to Untamed Angling. It already has operations in nearby Kendjam, but unlike Kendjam this new camp on the Xingu River is focused primarily on trophy payara fishing in the vast waters of the Xingu River. Of course, there are a host of other species to be caught, like peacock bass, but payara will take center stage at this new destination. These toothy predators are hard to find in abundance and in consistent sizes, but that is exactly what CEO & Founder of Untamed Angling, Marcelo Perez says they have found on the Xingu. I recently spoke to Marcelo about these new operations and here is what he had to say:
Could you talk a little bit about the Xingu River and what type of lodging and fishing await anglers traveling to this destination?
Well, Xingu River is a crystal clear, fast water, huge, and iconic Amazon River. Sacral for the Kayapo indians, this river holds probably the biggest size of payara in consistent numbers anywhere, but most importantly they are accessible on the fly. The Xingu runs through a granite plateau that creates riffles, deep pools, and pocket water where payara live. It is a similar biological niche to the Dorado in the Parana system or in the Amazon Headwaters, but in these waters the payara is top predator.
We are building a comfortable wooden lodge on Xingu, with the same amenities as we have at our Bolivian or Brazilian destinations. If we have to mention a reference, it will be very similar to our Pluma lodge at Tsimane.
A large part of traveling within the Mekragnoti Indigenous Territory is the experience of seeing and interacting with the Kayapo people. Will the Xingu River lodge offer similar interactions and cultural exchanges with the indigenous peoples as with Kendjam?
Yes, there’s also a Kayapo village near by the lodge and some others around in the area. It’s quite similar to Kendjam, but different at the same time. Here the Kayapo are entwined to the payara, and they have a particular ritual around these abundant fish: For young Kayapo to reach the adult warrior stage, they have to pass a special test of strength. They catch a big payara, take one of its teeth, and return to the village. Then the oldest chief will make several cuts in their arms with the teeth, creating deep wounds that will become scars for life. That’s how they embody the strength of the fish and absorb its power. As you see, they have a close relationship with the payara since time immemorial.
For those unfamiliar or experienced with payara, could you explain why this fishery is different from others and what anglers can expect from these fish?
Well, certainly there are not many well-known fisheries for payara yet. It’s a pretty new fish for the fly-fishing market. Even though some people are catching them on the fly in Colombia or Venezuela, the Xingu is the best we have seen.
We’re catching the payaras consistently on heavy sinking lines in very deep pools, usually at the tail-out using large black streamers. There is so much water to explore, and we feel as if we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what anglers can expect at Xingu Lodge.
The Xingu is a large river, in fishing for these trophy payara, will anglers be wading, fishing from a boat, or both?
Mostly you fish from a boat. There are many rock structures where you can stand and cast, but the boat gives you mobility on large pools where you look for the fish, that makes it much easier. So, you can do a bit of wading or fishing from the boat. Often, in the large pools we will see them rolling, but they move fast and it presents a great challenge to sight fish for them in this clear water.
When will booking for Xingu begin?
Our 2020 season will run from Sep 26 to Nov 14.
See more photos from the Xingu River and Lodge at www.instagram.com/xingulodge
The topic of Cuba has been in an out of major fly fishing rags—including The Angling Report—ever since Americans have had the opportunity to fish it. Despite the ongoing rollercoaster of legality facing anglers trying to get to Cuba, the major problem in access has been the shear size of the island nation, the limited areas to fish it, and the logistics of getting to prime waters. To fish much of Cuba’s top waters, you either have to stay in a touristy area, or on a liveaboard operation that includes a bit more travel and close-quarters living for the sake of great fishing. It has never been possible to have one’s cake and eat it too, in regards to great fishing and spacious luxury accommodation in Cuba. That is until now.
Untamed Angling’s new El Faro Lodge intends to break the Cuban mold wide open and provide anglers with an upscale lodging and fishing experience similar to those customers have come to expect from them. Here are Marcelo’s thoughts on that new operation as well:
In regards to Cuba, could you tell people about the area that El Faro Lodge is located?
El Faro lodge is located in the far western tip of Cuba. More specifically on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, which is a wild National Park and Biosphere Reserve. Preserved for 40 years, the peninsula has more than 200 miles of flats, beaches, channels, mangroves, coral reefs, lagooins, and bluewater, all withing range of the marina where we have the skiffs. The variety of different envrionments all together creates a unique and wild fishing destination, very different from the regular Caribbean ones.
Could you talk a little about the lodge itself, and what people can expect from the food, fishing, and accommodations?
The lodge has 12 single wooden cabins in front of a solitary beach, where the beautiful sunsets are just one of the highlights. The lodge is also only 3 minutes from the docks and skiffs. Logistics are easy, and gourmet food and beverages are a hallmark of all our destinations, so you can expect modern comforts while enjoying the wilderness of the area.
Besides the “Big 3” (bonefish, tarpon, & permit) we’ve seen a lot of images of triggerfish coming out of El Faro. Are triggerfish an active target of the guiding program in Cuba? Any other species?
Yes, there are many triggers on the keys in front of the marina and we have figured out how to catch them (I like it a lot). We have also found nice snook fishing areas and other inshore spots for minor species. We also have a big boat to go for the blue water species too. El Faro area is very rich in regards to options and species.
When will booking begin for El Faro?
Our first exploratory season will be May, June, and July of 2020.
Want to be among the first to explore Untamed Angling’s new Cuban and Brazilian destinations?
Here’s how it will work: Make sure you have subscribed to The Angling Report’s email newsletter, then keep an eye out for an email regarding the giveaway. You will be asked to provide a brief description of yourself, your qualifications for going, and of course your guarantee to provide The Angling Report with a detailed report from your trip. You will be responsible for tips and airfares to and from rendezvous points with the outfitter; we’ll take care of the rest!