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Subscriber Art Friedlander has mostly good things to say about a trip to Agua Boa Amazon Lodge in Brazil booked for him this past December by Dan Vermillion of Sweetwater Travel Company (www.sweetwatertravel.com). Agua Boa is currently the only fly-only fishing lodge in the Amazon. Here at The Angling Report, we support the development of fly fishing for peacocks and have written extensively of late about Luis Brown’s effort to create fly fishing reserves at the headwaters of the various rivers he fishes. You can get more information on that effort from J. W. Smith of Rod and Gun Resources (www.peacock-bassfishing.com). We welcome the receipt of this report because Agua Boa is already a serious fly fishing operator and because Friedlander is a serious, and obviously accomplished, fly angler. His report may inspire others to give peacocks a try with the long rod. Here is how he describes his trip.
“Our catch on this trip varied between 15 and 50 fish a day, most of which were butterfly peacock bass in the one- to five-pound range. We also caught spotted peacocks, however, up to eight pounds, and few of the giant Temensis variety weighing between 10 and 18 pounds. The latter is the strongest fish over a short distance that I have ever caught. I am not an experienced saltwater fisherman so I cannot compare the Temensis peacock to saltwater fish, but a very experienced saltwater fisherman on this trip agrees with my views about the strength of these fish. In fighting strength, they are easily among the class of the best Atlantic salmon and steelhead I have caught.
“Another species I caught on this trip was the arowana, a prehistoric-looking, strong fish that became an acrobatic leaper when hooked. I caught two of these during the week; the largest weighed six pounds. I also caught a few small pacu and dogfish, plus a shad-like fish called the Matricha. I also had the opportunity to cast to a few five- to six-foot pirarucu my guide and I saw rolling on the surface. I had no success with them.
“Most of the fishing we did on this trip was blind casting to the shore and to various kinds of structure, but we also cast completely blind into deeper sections of lagoons and inlets to lagoons. The water clarity during our trip allowed us to see four to five feet into the water, which meant we could often see our fly and, most importantly, the takes of fish. Most of the guides poled their boats exclusively but some of them paddled, which made sighting fish more difficult.
“The goal of everyone on the trip was to sight fish for the Temensis variety of peacock bass. Unfortunately, I was not successful in casting to any of these bruisers even though I did spot a few cruising and others after they had been spooked. None of them were interested in my fly even when I presented it well.
“The Temensis that were caught on this trip were mostly taken in fairly deep water, often where shallower water transitioned to deeper water and also often within 20 feet of the boat. Most of the takes were upon stripping or during the pause, but also occasionally when the fly was just sitting in the water waiting to be recast or when I had to take care of some kind of line problem. Blind casting, unless you waited for sighted fish, made for somewhat long days on the water. Generally, my guide and I spotted only about six to 12 fish a day.
“As for equipment, I used an eight-wt., nine-foot rod along with a six-wt., 12.5-foot Spey rod, which I cast overhand. I used mainly sinking lines on the single-handed rod, either a Teeny 300 or shooting heads of varying length on a floating line, along with four feet of 40- or 60-pound tippet. I also used a floating line on this rod with a five-foot Quigley leader together with four feet of 40- or 60-pound tippet. I used a shooting-head system on the Spey rod with either intermediate sinking or floating heads.
“The flies I used included Clousers, deceivers, half-and-halfs, and various other baitfish patterns in sizes 1/0 to 4/0. Yellow/white, light blue/ white, and orange/white all worked. For fishing on the surface, I used various large poppers in sizes 3/0 to 4/0. The louder the sound they made and the more water they pushed, the better. Poppers worked particularly well when we got into a pod of butterflies. My best take on the trip was a Temensis that crashed a 4/0 popper on the surface and then ran into the trees where I lost him.
“One area of contention with the guides was their fly preference. They all wanted to use small three- to four-inch flies, which conflicted with the advice of several previous fishers who strongly recommended large, six- to eight-inch flies fished deep, especially when targeting the large Temensis peacocks. I can’t speak to this issue because I used mostly smaller flies and fished with very large flies on only a few occasions without obviously better results.
“All in all, Agua Boa is an excellent lodge. The accommodations, the food, and the staff are outstanding. The camp manager, Carlos, went out of his way to make sure things went smoothly. The staff in Manaus was excellent in arranging for connections from hotel to airport. The only negative is the fact that some of the guides have poor to nonexistent English, which makes it difficult to determine where to cast to a fish the guide has sighted. I strongly suggest that fellow subscribers learn some rudimentary Portuguese before going to Agua Boa, though I did discuss this problem with the camp manager, and he said he was going to work on it.
“Ultimately, I recommend this trip to fellow subscribers. There are not only abundant butterflies available on this trip, but also opportunities to catch Temensis. That’s a bit like combining fishing for smallmouth on steroids with casting for Atlantic salmon and steelhead!”
Postscript: Friedlander gives the cost of his trip as $4,850 plus airfare and hotel in Manaus.