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If peacock bass fishing in the Amazon interests you, here’s what you need to know. Imagine waking up to two tribes of howler monkeys screaming at one another as a red sun climbs into the sky. You remember falling into a deep sleep as a muffled generator purred and water lapped against your tent barge or mothership deep in the rainforest. The ache in your casting arm and the cut in your line finger remind you of action you had the previous day. You smile with anticipation as you head for a hearty breakfast.

Such is life when you go in search of peacock bass in the jungles of South America. Parrots cartwheel overhead. Jaguars growl in the night. You may even see an anaconda sunning itself on a boulder, a tapir wading across a shallow riverbed or capybaras scavenging along a lagoon bank. Indeed, accommodations available on trips to the Amazon and elsewhere in South America typically put you up close and personal with an extraordinary array of wildlife and in the midst of flora as exotic and interesting as any on earth. Lodging options range from tents on partially cleared points of a river island… to small, two-person barge cabins… to luxury yachts that move up to 100 miles per night… to fixed lodges on Amazon River tributaries.

Most Amazon outfitters these days have comfortable fishing boats with casting platforms that work for fly and spin/baitcast anglers alike. The rivers you fish are never rough, and most of the fishing is in relatively clear, black-water lagoons off tiny rivers. And make no mistake – the peacock bass is a readily fly-fishable species. It is not like the tigerfish in Africa, for example, that is catchable on the fly only in certain fairly precise circumstances. Don Causey, the publisher of The Angling Report, reports catching scores of peacock bass on a trip to the Rio Negro several years ago, including a behemoth that weighed just over 18 pounds. Yes, all on a fly. He says he rates the trip as one of the most satisfying and interesting he has ever taken.

The peacock bass, although it is a warm-water fish, bears almost no resemblance to the largemouth bass which is so avidly pursued by competitive fishermen in the US. The peacock bass is not even a relative of the black bass (it’s a cichlid), nor does it have similar behavior. It is an extremely territorial, schooling fish. Peacocks roam in gangs. Even 20-pounders tend to move about with two or more fish of similar size. They are not ambush feeders, but rather aggressive killers that try to destroy anything in their territory, which may include an area as large as 200 yards by 200 yards. Toss a seven-inch-long, tarpon-size fly or a large popper in front of them and they will attack it with a ferocity that is unlike anything else in the world of fishing.

In some tributaries of the Amazon, peacocks can be readily sightfished. Even in darker rivers they can often be sightfished along sandbar drops. Place anything in front of these sighted fish and they will want a piece of it. The only caveat is that the offering and the rig backing it up must be strong, because peacocks will destroy normal lines and tackle. Don’t even try to use a 7-weight fly rod on a 20-pound peacock bass or you will be crying.

In the past 20 years, I have been on more than 60 peacock bass trips. Recently, I have begun to notice more and more fly rodders. In fact, on almost every trip that I take to the Amazon now there are multiple fly fishermen along. When I first visited the Amazon, few guides knew what a fly rod was. Now, a lot of them are expert fly fishing guides.

Often, guides at these operations have their own fly fishing equipment. I remember several times a guide pulling out his own 9-weight fly rod, wading out and catching one or more peacocks while my fishing partner and I ate lunch and rested in the shade of a shoreline canopy. Often, the activity in front of us enticed us to drop our sandwiches and join in on the action. Since peacocks are schooling fish, it is common to catch a dozen or more in one spot. I recall one day deserting our lunch at the edge of a river when a school of nine- to 12-pound speckled peacocks erupted 50 feet from us. We had a strike per cast for about 30 minutes.

If you are hooked on the idea of going on a peacock bass trip, there are a lot of options to choose from. It’s self serving to say so, but my online “Peacock Bass World Directory” is the best place to start your search for a trip. The web address is: My Planning Guide has information on almost all of the experienced providers of peacock trips, such as Acute Angling, Agua Boa Amazon Lodge, Amazon Fishing Adventures, Captain Peacock, FishQuest, Rod & Gun Resources, Ron Speed Adventures and Trek Safaris, among many others. There are 29 different agents, outfitters and operations listed on my site. They offer yacht trips, boatels, fixed lodges, tent camp and cabin barge operations in Brazil and other peacock bass countries.

My Peacock Bass Association also offers a Peacock Bass Fishing Forum and produces a monthly e-zine that keeps members up to date on important news developments such as air service changes, last-minute trip deals from various operators and water levels throughout the Amazon basin. The latter is extremely important information, as water levels have a direct impact on peacock bass fishing success, and they can vary greatly from season to season and even from week to week. They can also vary from river to river at the same point in time. If the water is too high around your intended camp, the fish there will have dispersed into vast tracts of flooded forest and become almost un-catchable. If the water level is too low, many prime spots will have become unreachable. Keeping up to date on water levels is crucial if you plan to go peacock bass fishing.

Another crucial element in planning a trip to the Amazon, in my view, is understanding the need for medical evacuation coverage. Here at Peacock Bass Association, I have entered into a relationship with the top provider of this kind of coverage, Global Rescue, and I’m lending my support to the creation of a basin-wide evacuation program for all anglers who visit the Amazon regions of South America. In coming months, many major operators in this region are going to be offering Global Rescue coverage. Some will likely be requiring that you have coverage. Others will be bundling the cost of coverage into the cost of your trip. Until this program has been implemented throughout the Amazon, my advice is to arrange for your own coverage by calling Global Rescue direct at 800-381-9754. Indicate you are going to the Amazon. Alternately, you can sign up for coverage on the web at:

Trips to the Amazon are as safe as any, and the various peacock bass destinations are, in fact, much safer than destinations in other countries that receive a flood of American anglers. But the service that Global Rescue provides in a remote location like the Amazon is vital. At times, on a typical trip, you can be 300 miles or more from a source of assistance. Linking up with a company that provides field rescue as well as transport home to the hospital of your choosing is a no-brainer. Short-term coverage starts for as little as $119 for a week.

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