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Remember last issue when we said it had been over two years since we had a report from Colombia? Well, Juan D. Ordonez’s second report this issue has officially broken the long silence from the Republic of Colombia. Dr. Ordonez’s report highlights a very productive peacock bass fishery on the Tomo River. Enjoy!
This was my second trip to fish the Tomo River in Colombia, with the Afloat Company, based in Medellin. Afloat, which is owned and managed by a group of young Colombians, is outfitted by Alex Zapata, an outfitter out of Miami, who told me about the Rio Tomo three years back. The trip was excellent, the fishing was very good, the accommodations were very comfortable among the floating cabins at a fixed camp, and the food consisted of good local fare. The guides/boatmen at this camp are local people who know the river and lagoons well.
To get there, one has to fly to Medellin Rionegro Airport, drive about 30 minutes to a small hotel in the city to spend the night, and drive the next day to a smaller airport to catch a smaller charter plane, which flies for 90 minutes to the town of Primavera, Colombia. Once in Primavera, it’s time to grab lunch and depart on a four- to five-hour drive through open roads in the Colombian eastern plains to the river. It’s not over until you take the short (20 minutes or less) trip by boat to camp.
The camp consists of five or six floating cabins that can accommodate two people per cabin. Each has an attached bathroom and shower plus a large kitchen. On the sandy beach nearby, there is a large tent for meals and a few smaller tents for the staff and guides. Fishing starts at 7 a.m. after breakfast. There are two fishermen and a guide assigned to fairly large boats with powerful motors. The fishing usually ends around 5 p.m. each day.
There are long river stretches and lagoons to be fished, and all parties fish away from each other—only getting together sometimes for lunch if they wish. Half of the 10 or so guests were American and the other half were Colombians or Brazilians. Of these, about half were fly fishermen; the others had regular tackle, but single hooks are required.
I used 9-weight rods with intermediate or sinking lines. Leaders usually consisted of six to seven feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon. Flies consisted of the usually colorful streamers thrown to peacock bass. I landed around five to seven fish per day, but hooked and lost many more. Most fish were in the 6- to 10-pound range; however, I landed one each of 15, 18, and 19 pounds, and other fishermen landed at least two fish over 20 pounds during the course of the week.
The thing that is most important to me, and the thing that keeps me going back there each year (I am returning in 2020), is that two or three times during the week, I unexpectedly hook fish so large that they break the lines after pulling me and the boat into the log jams along the banks. There are larger fish in that river than most, and they are not easy to land!
The trip home was a repetition in reverse of the same flight pattern I experienced on the way in. We felt well cared for and safe all the way, and the people from Afloat are knowledgeable of the area and of Colombia at large. We were all concerned that, since there are no strong laws protecting the river in Colombia, the fishery may not last. We will see.