Peacock Bass Fishing in the Amazon Watershed
by Susan Laden
The keen eyes of our Amazon fishing guide somehow identified a school of erratically swimming, silvery iridescent-colored baitfish on a submerged sandbar some 25 yards away. This was a telltale sign to the savvy guide, with more than 10 years experience with American anglers, that a peacock bass on the prowl or, perhaps, a school of them, might have panicked the frantic baitfish. I immediately launched a long cast with my six-inch surface propeller plug, thumbing the spool to create a soft landing in the tannin-stained water between two finger points of the bar. My aggressive retrieve caused so much audible and visible commotion that a flock of parrots took flight from their roost on a nearby tree.
Suddenly, a peacock bass assaulted my lure with such ferocity that it startled my boat-mates and I. Unfortunately, he missed the bait. Undaunted, I maintained the retrieve, rather than let my lure sit motionless and gaze at the water in frustration over missing the fish. However, another big explosion occurred, not but five seconds later and just about ripped the stout casting rod from my grasp. Despite my stout rod, 80 lb braided line and a drag that had been ratcheted up to its limits, the fish had enough power to strip 30 yards of line from my reel. I was basically hanging on to the rod with all the strength I could muster, as there was simply no controlling this fish.
Momentarily, my line went slack and I prayed that the unthinkable had not occurred - the sharpened hooks somehow failed to hold the enraged fish However, my despair quickly turns to jubilation, as, with lure firmly affixed to his cavernous mouth, some 18-pounds of emerald green and Sunkist orange fury leaped three-feet out of the water and performed aerial gyrations that would rival the most acrobatic saltwater high flying gamefish.“There are no underwater obstructions for this fish to run to," I quietly mutter to myself, fishing partner and husband Gary and our guide as I played this fish. After a four minute skirmish, the line eventually proved strong enough and my luck even stronger, as the fish was soon brought to the guide's outstretched Boga Grip landing device and scale. I landed my first “grande” (trophy) in the Amazon and the three of us soon reveled in this catch with broad smiles, high-fives and hugs.
Although this action occurred 10 years ago, the memory is etched in my mind as if it occurred yesterday. I was briefed about the vicious surface strikes and drag screeching runs of the world's toughest freshwater game fish when I took my first adventure to South America some 10 years ago, but until you personally experience the awesome power of a trophy-class peacock bass on the end of your line, words simply cannot prepare you for what you will encounter. Scenes like the one just described are not a rare occurrence on peacock bass adventures to Brazil, but are actually experienced by visiting anglers on a daily basis.
It was the late 1950’s or early ‘60’s that the first accounts of peacock bass were told by the late Field and Stream editor A.J. McClane. His text described huge, hump-backed fish that had a resemblance to largemouth bass, but were much larger and were ornately colored. McClane referred to those fish as pavón, the local Venezuelan name, which loosely translated to “peacock” in English. Some believe that the “bass” moniker was either added to peacock by Florida Fish and Game personnel that were involved in the early stocking programs, or perhaps an American fishing tour operator, believing that not many “gringo” anglers would be interested in traveling to South America to catch a fish called pavón (Venezuela) or tucunare (Brazil).
In actuality, the peacock bass is not a member of the bass family at all. It is just one of some 1,600 plus members of family of fish called cichlids. There are some striking similarities to the largemouth bass, such as basic body contour, cavernous mouth, ravenous appetite and a strong propensity to attack prey and fishing lures with a ferocity that is more reminiscent of much larger fish. One striking difference, immediately apparent is that the peacock bass is much more vividly colored in varying shades of green, blue, orange and gold.
In recent years, no international freshwater gamefish species has garnered the attention that the peacock bass has. Many of our angling clients had planned a once-in-a-lifetime trip to our operations for peacock bass, but after experiencing this fantastic gamefish, as well as the sights and sounds of the rain forest, the majority of them return each year for another chance to experience the pristine beauty of the Amazon and to do battle with another giant peacock bass. Our company, Peacock Bass Adventures, is an Atlanta based agency that specializes in South America. We offer a variety of options, from very comfortable live-aboard fishing yachts, with fishing boats in tow, to air-conditioned, highly mobile, African safari-style tents.
Our company maintains a staff of fishing guides and professional anglers that act as hosts/escorts for your trip to South America. We will offer you the best peacock bass operations in South America. With our years of first-hand experience, fishing literally every peacock bass operation throughout Brazil and Venezuela, we’ve gleaned the experience to know when and where to schedule your peacock bass adventure for optimal results. We realize that you will be spending your hard earned money on a trip of this nature and we don’t want you to travel to South America to be met with unfavorable conditions and limited fishing success.
We don’t obtain our information about the lodges we represent from a slick brochure or read about them in magazines. We visit each lodge on a regular basis and have personal long-term relationships with all of the lodge owners we represent.
A philosophical angler once stated that the allure of angling is the pursuit of what is elusive, yet attainable. In addition to offering the allure of pursuing peacock bass in Brazil and Venezuela, we believe our fishing expeditions will provide you with much more than the attainable goal of catching fish. We believe that there's no better way to escape the constant pressures of daily life and hectic work schedules than through a fishing adventure. We’ll be the catalyst for you to visit new and exciting destinations. We’ll expose you to a wide variety of people and cultures. We’ll help you bond with a special client; rekindle an old friendship; share the spirit of fishing with your family or just enjoy a trip with your good fishing buddies.
While we can't always guarantee that you’ll always be greeted by schools of frenzied peacock bass on every trip taken with us, we can guarantee unmatched personalized service, detailed preparation regarding tackle and gear necessities for your adventure, up to date medical precautions and a sympathetic ear should an unforeseen problem arise. When it comes to peacock bass fishing, few companies share our experience.
Please also consider the fact that it costs you no more to book with us than if you were to contact the lodge owners directly. We have carefully selected the most reputable lodges throughout South America and participate in joint marketing efforts that enable us to obtain our booking fees from these lodges. Unlike other angling booking agencies, you can expect a member of our staff to accompany you on your adventure. I accompany all of the groups hosting lady anglers. You are hand held from the time you land in South America until moment you depart.
Even though we’ve helped arrange the peacock bass adventures for some pretty important people, ranging from former presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter; to Flip Pallot of the ESPN series Walker’s Cay Chronicles to Babe Winkelman of Versus Network “Good Fishing’” program, we will never lose site of the fact that the most important client to our company is the non-celebrity angler that looks for one fishing “escape” a year or perhaps the one and only fishing trip of a lifetime. We would certainly welcome the opportunity to handle your angling travel needs to South America and demonstrate to you what Peacock Bass Adventures is all about.
Check out Susan’s offer from Peacock Bass Adventures to our Adventure Woman viewers on our Supplies Tent.
Susan Laden is the co-owner and operations manager for Peacock Bass Adventures, LLC. She has traveled extensively to South America for the past 10 years. To contact Susan Laden about peacock bass adventures for ladies to South America, check out www.peacockbassadventures.com or email Susan@peacockbassadventures.com.