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I recently visited what I believe to be the world’s best giant peacock bass fishery. I say that, fully aware it makes me sound like the typical outdoor writer who reaches for superlatives every time he sits down at the computer. Truly-hype and promotion aside this action is good.

This exciting fishery is in the Casiquiare River watershed, way down at the extreme southern tip of Venezuela, near the borders of Brazil and Colombia. Specifically, we did most of our fishing in some lagoons off a Casiquiare tributary called the Pasimoni River. To get here, one travels by jet from Caracas to Puerto Ayacucho and then on to a village called San Carlos via a single engine prop plane. It’s a three hour boat ride from there to the remote campsite along the Pasimoni.

The fishing here is really difficult to talk about without getting excited. I went to these waters with some light line, hoping to set some line class records. I believe four of my catches will indeed be recognized as such. How large were the fish? Well, on trips previous to this one, I have caught and released about seven peacocks over 15 pounds. On this trip, I quickly caught my largest ever peacock. I did that, mind you, on my first morning out by bringing a 19 pound behemoth to the net. I later went on to top that personal record by taking a 20 pounder. That’s in addition to about seven or eight 15 plus pounders.

In all, our small group of five anglers caught and released 38 peacocks over 12 pounds in four days of fishing. The largest weighed 22 pounds. Only two anglers in our group didn’t catch a 20 pounder. One angler, who had been to the camp before, caught four that big, plus seven that tallied between 18 1/2 and 19 3/4 pounds.

Later, I was told the two anglers in our group who didn’t take 20 pounders were the first to miss that mark. The "problem" was unusually high water for the month of November. The "good" fishing is coming up now in January, February and March.

Despite the great fishing, I should warn you this trip is not for everyone. The Pasimoni Campsite (it’s called "Alechita") is just that a campsite. Accommodations take the form of camping under a "Churuata," or thatched roof shelter. You sleep either on a cot or in a hammock under mosquito netting. The toilet is an outhouse and you bathe in the river. Light at night is provided by lanterns. A gas powered refrigerator and stove offer safe food storage and an adequate way to cook food. Bottled water and soft drinks are provided.

Fortunately, bugs at Alechita are not too bad, but you’ll still need a good insect lotion at dawn and dusk to keep "no see ums" away. Long sleeved shirts and long pants are advisable for protection from afternoon sun and the biting bugs after dark. The jungle can be warm and humid, but it cools down nicely at night.

The fishing boats here are 16 foot aluminum V hull craft with 45 hp outboard motors. Padded swivel seats have been mounted in the fishing boats. The Alechiven guides are Indians from the region, but all speak Spanish. They do a good job of positioning the boats, both for casting and trolling, and I was impressed with their knowledge of the waters and their ability to find good fishing areas. They are particularly good at moving the boat quickly away from any entanglements when one of the giant peacocks is hooked. They are also quite adept at using the large, long handled nets each boat has on hand.

The fishing action in the 40 or so lagoons off the Pasimoni varies widely from lake to lake. Most are within a two hour run of the campsite. The only fishing pressure I noticed was from the three Alechita boats. There is absolutely no native fishing pressure on the Pasimoni River, not even local subsistence fishing.

The waters here, as elsewhere in the Amazon basin, fluctuate widely depending on the time of year. In November, we found the levels to be about 10 feet higher than normal in the "drier" season and dropping slowly. In fact, the lagoons were flooded with water back into the normally dry trees along the shoreline. Many grass flats were submerged under five to seven feet of water. This meant the fish were not as concentrated as they usually are. Nonetheless, we were able to pattern the peacocks fairly quickly. Most of our catches were around huge boulders, rocky and brushy points and over feeding flats. The "streams" connecting the lagoons to the main river were also productive areas.

Most of our group used heavy 25 to 30 pound test line and stout, medium heavy action rods with either baitcasting or spinning gear. Top lures for the giants were Luhr Jensen "Big Game Woodchoppers" and "Jerkin’ Sams"; Heddon "Redfins"; the new 1 1/4 ounce "Super Trap"; and the No. 18 Tony Accetta "Pet Spoon." While these are all big lures, fly fishing for the giants can be tremendous as well. In fact, two fly rod tippet world record applications were submitted to IGFA by anglers who visited this area two weeks before I did. Ft. Walton Beach angler Bert Bookout, who currently holds at least one fly class record, caught a 25 pound, 8 ounce peacock on 20 pound tippet. He was using a large popping bug. His fish was just one pound off the all tackle world mark! Bookout’s friend, Al Clark, caught a 19 pound, 8 ounce peacock the same week and has submitted his application to IGFA for a different fly rod tippet line class record. Bookout’s fish is the largest caught on the Pasimoni River so far this year last year’s big fish from this watershed was taken by woman angler Ami Nash of Birmingham, Alabama. It has been certified by IGFA as a 20 pound line class world record. I’m betting that the next all tackle world record will come from this area eventually.

Heavy duty popping bugs, it appears, are very effective on peacocks. So are Deceivers, Seaducers and Dahlburg Divers tied on 2/0 to 4/0 hooks. Just be sure you bring something in the 9 foot 10 weight class to handle these explosive fish.

This trip is being marketed in the US by Dick Ballard’s Fishing Adventures (*). Not surprisingly, the camp is almost booked up this year. Hurry, if you want to get in on the action this winter. Each fishing party is accompanied by a bilingual Venezuelan tour guide who is in charge of the guides, cook and crew. Currently, the 9 day trip package from Caracas costs $2,650. Larry Larsen.

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