Wolfish (Trairão) — Hoplius aimara—(Valenciennes, 1847)
A relatively unknown and stunningly underrated Amazon predator, probably due to its superficial similarity to the, smaller and less athletic traira. Trairão (or wolfish) are fantastic fighters, attacking lures both on the surface and below with gut-wrenching violence then offering a powerful fight, accentuated by prodigious, head-shaking, spinning leaps. They can reach very large sizes and will give any angler more than he or she expects. Their mouthful of wicked teeth, large scales and thick body gives them the look of a sumo wrestler with the agility of an acrobat.
|Bars and Markings||Colors||Size||Key Characters||Similar Species|
|Fins marked with darker bars and speckles on lighter brown background color. Body relatively uniform and free of any clearly visible markings, however, lighter colored specimens show a series of diagonal dark bars on posterior body.||Dark gray to brown lateral body, dorsally slightly darker . Abdomen whitish with darker mottling.||Adults: up to about 40 pounds (1 meter)||Thick body mouthful of sharp, caniform teeth
Large, thick tail large eye
|A recent study of H. aimara and H. macrophthalmus revealed that both names refer to the same taxon. H. aimara has priority as the earlier name.
Another fish, Traira (H. malabaricus) looks like a smaller version of trairão and is found throughout South America
|Known Range||Behavior Notes||Habitat||Common Names||IGFA records|
|Countries: Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, Venezuela, Surinam.
River Basins: Amazon and lower Orinoco drainages, also coastal rivers of Guyana, French Guiana and Surinam.
|Primarily piscivorous, opportunistically taking small mammals and birds. Strikes violently on the surface and is a prodigious jumper.||Common in slack water near waterfalls and rapids. Often lie in ambush near rocks.||English: Giant Trahira, Aymara Wolf-fish (TV name)
Brazil: Trairão ( like try-ear-own)
|32 lbs. 15 oz.
French Guiana, 2007
The trairao (wolfish) is a remarkably accommodating game fish. In those river systems where it's present, it offers anglers a wide-variety of fishing environments and it responds to a wide array of tackle and techniques. The breadth of angling opportunities it provides is comparable to the largemouth bass. Once hooked however, the similarities abruptly end, since the trairao is a larger, more powerful fish with a distinct aerial proclivity. If they weren't so darned ugly, they'd be one of the world's most acclaimed sport fish. They are pugnacious to a fault and will attack almost anything that looks like food, so lure choices should be aimed at what is necessary to put the bait into the fish's area of awareness in varying conditions.
They are brilliant fun on surface lures, particularly walking stick baits equipped with extra sharp and extra strong hooks. In back-waters or off the river or in slow water stretches, they can be found relating to surface or aquatic structure, such as fallen timber or rocky outcroppings. Probe these waters as you would for peacock bass. Trairao are more of an ambush feeder (like largemouths) than a pursuit feeder (like peacock bass), so good casts, tight to structure are more likely to elicit a response. Set the hook firmly and more than once, they have bony, toothy jaws. In spite of their thick, barrel-shaped bodies they are good jumpers and will give anglers a mix of short powerful runs and impressive acrobatics.
Rocks in quicker water and at the edges of pools hold feeding trairao. Both surface and subsurface lures will work well here. These are the same types of waters that will hold payara, bicuda and peacock bass in the high gradient rivers that trairao favor, so they'll find you, often before the others if you stay very close to edges.
In deeper stretches of the main river, certain banks near points or confluences may have deep holes that are attractive to trairao and will hold good numbers of especially large specimens. This is cut bait fishing, where anglers can use an Amazon catfish rig and drop it directly under the boat and into the deep hole. If you find them, there will be many and they will be big. Although the style here has changed to still fishing and the thrill of the pursuit has changed to waiting for a take, the fight remains as good as in other techniques and the size tends to be larger. There's still plenty of excitement to be had when a 25 pound trairao comes blasting up from the bottom and begins leaping scant yards from your boat.
During very low water periods, trairao may stack up in creek mouths entering a river. Possibly a function of spawning activity, they are violently aggressive in this habitat. Anglers can elicit strikes on every cast once such as spot has been located. Super Spooks with 2/0 extra-strong VMC hooks make for great sport with these hyper-active beasts.
However you pursue them, and as ugly as they may be, tarirao are an especially attractive target for the Amazon angler.