Fishing for Other Exotics

Exploring the Amazon

Acute Angling has long focused on the exploration of new waters. Some of the most exciting waters we've found have their origin in Brazil's Guyana Shield highlands. Coursing down through ancient, weather-softened mountain ranges, they contain populations of some of the fiercest fishes on the planet. We've sampled many of them and we've found our favorites.

The upper Travessão River, isolated by impassable waterfalls below and within a protected Indian reservation above, had long beckoned us as a potentially outstanding variety fishery. Today, we operate full scale fishing trips within its most interesting and varied sections.

The Travessão's isolated waters hold a true potpourri of Amazon species. Big, ugly trairão (wolfish) up to almost 40 pounds, bicuda over 3 feet long, hieroglyphic patterned sorubim and the biggest black piranha we've ever seen haunt the narrow upper reaches, while the wider central section holds peacock bass in the shallows and trophy payara in the quick running rocky areas. Deep holes harbor a contingent of giant Amazon catfish.

We periodically operate exploratory trips to other high-gradient rivers, as well. We've already explored several of Brazil's eastern Guyana Shield rivers. These majestic rivers hold payara, pirapitinga, bicuda, sorubim, jau, big pacu, peacock bass and more.

If you're not afraid of adventure and you're looking for some extreme fishing excitement, then join us on the wild and isolated Travessão or one of our amazingy exploratory voyages and become among the first outsiders to experience these eerily beautiful lands.

A trairao, an Amazon exotic gamefish species
Looking into the Jaws of an Amazon Trairao (wolfish)
Amazon exotic fish species bicuda
Bicuda can grow up to 3 feet long.
Amazon Exotic Gamefish Species - Pacu
A massive pirapitinga caught on one of our exploratory trips
Amazon Exotic Gamefish Species - Trairão
A trairão, more popularly known as a wolfish.
Amazon Exotic Gamefish Species - Bicuda
Angler Jim Micinilio shows off a bicuda.

Amazon Game Fish Taxonomy - The Characins

The Characins (Order Characiformes)

The Characins account for almost 50% of the fish species diversity of the Amazon. And diverse is exactly what they are, both morphologically and ecologically. They range in size from minuscule 13mm long tetras to 80 pound plus tambaqui and meter long payara and trairão (wolfish). They range in shape from some of the roundest fish in the world to some of the most elongate. They include the curimatidae, bottom favoring detritus feeders with no teeth at all; to the piranhas, whose teeth we're all well aware of. They also include fishes ranging from some of the mildest mannered community dwellers and aquarium favorites to some of the fiercest and most exciting gamefish in the world.

Taxonomic Grouping Latin Descriptor English Translation
Kingdom Animalia animals
Phylum Chordata with spinal cords
Subphylum Vertebrata with back bones
Superclass Gnathostoma jawed vertebrates
Grade Osteichthes bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii ray-finned fishes
Division Teleostei completed bones
Subdivision Ostarioclupeiomorpha bone-shield-form
Superorder Ostariophysi bone-bladder
Series Otophysi ear-bladder
Order Characiformes Characins

Characins - General Characteristics

Most characins are carnivores (although there are entire subfamilies of fruit, seed and flower eaters as well as a range of detritus feeders, scavengers and bottom sifters) with well developed and often very specialized teeth. Almost all have an adipose fin and are well covered with ctenoid scales. None have barbels. Like all fishes in the Series Otophysi, Characiformes have a Weberian apparatus, a series of bones and ligaments that connect the inner ear and the swim bladder for sound transmission. Characins, as members of the Superorder Ostariophysi, possess an alarm chemical (‘shreckstoff’) which is released into the water upon injury to the skin, inducing a fright reaction in other, nearby members of their species. (Anglers who've fished for piranha or matrinchao know that after you hook a few, the school quickly disappears.)

Characins - Specializations

Several Characin groups have extremely specialized characteristics. The unique fang-like dentition of payara, the grinding molars of pirapitinga, the winglike pectoral fins of hatchetfishes and the headstanding behavior of Anostomidae are testament to the adaptations Characins have evolved to enable them to populate just about all of the incredibly diverse habitats of the Amazon basin. The great diversity of Characins, their propensity for convergently evolved characters (and conversely, localized radiation) and the logistical difficulty of access and collection in the Amazon basin has made classification of these fishes a work in progress, with ongoing taxonomic changes. The families described below represent some of the most economically important Amazon groups from the standpoint of anglers, aquarists and commercial fishers.

References

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (06/2009).

Géry, J. 1977. Characoids of the world. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Mattox, G. M. T, Toledo-Piza, M., Oyakawa, O. T. and Armbruster, J. W., Taxonomic Study of Hoplias Aimara (Valenciennes, 1846) and Hoplias macrophthalmus (Pellegrin, 1907) (Ostariophysi, Characiformes, Erythrinidae), Copeia, 2006, 3, 516-528.

Nelson J, (2006) Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Reis, R. E., S.O. Kullander, and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) 2003. Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS. Brasil. 620-621.

Neotropical Characin Families
Parodontidae

Small fishes with ventral mouths and teeth specialized for scraping algae from rocks. Mostly stream dwellers. Not of angling interest.

Curimatidae Curimatidae

Known as detrivores because of their feeding habit, these fishes ingest the bottom sediments (detritus) in their waters, extracting nutrition from microscopic bio-matter particles contained in the fine-grained material. These fishes are distinguished from other Characins by the total lack of dentition in their jaws. Curimatids generally travel in large schools and make up a significant portion of the biomass in their waters, allowing them to be exploited by commercial fishermen. Generally thick-bodied fishes, some can attain a half meter in length. Although one would expect that their diet prevents them from being of interest to anglers, they can be caught on small, brightly colored flies in certain waters. Not bad as fighters, they are fairly scrappy. Under normal conditions, not of interest to anglers.

Prochilodontidae Prochilodontidae

Their odd, fleshy lips are equipped with two rows of teeth forming a tooth-lined oral disk. This adaptation allows them to scrape periphyton (a crust of algae, diatoms and other organisms) from aquatic surfaces. They also exploit detritus. The availabilty of these food sources and their migratory behavior makes them a prominent source of food and energy flow across aquatic ecosystems. Known as an important forage fish of peacock bass, their movements may explain how peacock populations in nutrient poor waters are able to obtain adequate biomass. Their tails and anal fins generally exhibit strong yellow and black stripes. Not of interest to anglers but often found in aquaria.

Anostomidae Anostomidae

A family of fusiform (spindle-shaped) fishes, they are known to aquarists as "headstanders", due to their inclined feeding position. Feeding on a wide range of substances, these mostly omnivorous fishes can achieve fairly large sizes (up to .80 meter) and several are of interest to anglers. The large "boga" is actively sought by anglers in southern South America while the "aracu" is a light-tackle target in Amazonia. Many are migratory and are exploited for food, both commercially and by subsistence fishers. A large family with many species still undescribed, they are found in most habitat types, ranging from lentic lowlands waters to fast-moving high gradient rivers. Many genera, such as Leporinus and Anostomus, are popular in aquaria.

Chilodontidae

A small family of fishes also known to the aquarium trade as headstanders (as are Anostomidae), none are of interest to anglers.

Crenuchidae Crenuchidae

Known as "darters", these small fishes are mostly inhabitants of fast-moving small streams. Not of interest as either food or sport fish, Crenuchidae are sometimes encountered in the aquarium trade.

Hemiodontidae

This family comprised of 28 species is pelagic in habit, forming large schools in open waters of lakes and rivers. Feeding omnivorously, some species are filter feeders. None are of interest to anglers.

Gasteropelecidae Gasteropelecidae

A great example of the diversity within Characiformes, these odd little fishes are known as "hatchet fishes". All are capable of jumping long distances using their deep-bodied, keeled shape and their enormous, heavily-muscled pectoral fins. Some species occur in small streams and creeks. When startled, they take to the air in a swarm, making for an interesting sight. A favorite of the aquarium trade, none are of interest to anglers.

Characidae Characidae

This extremely large and diverse family poses a variety of challenges for taxonomists. Many interfamily taxonomic relationships are not yet clearly known, leaving large numbers of species (at least 620 - or about half of all of the Amazon Characiforme species) unassigned to subfamilies. Most, however, are well-known to aquarists as tetras and characins and many are favorites of anglers, including the famed freshwater dorado. The well-defined subfamilies within Characidae also contain some of the Amazon's greatest sportfish. Within the subfamily Serrasalminae, are found the infamous piranha, the fruit and flower eating pacu and the Amazon bully, the pirapitinga. The subfamily Bryconinae includes piraputanga and matrinchao, great aerobatic fighters in their own right.

Acestorhynchidae Loricaridae - Catfish

This family of elongate, pike-like fishes contains a single genera with 15 species. Well known to peacock bass anglers, they are known, variously and regionally as, peixe-cachorro, cachorrinho or joele. Armed with wicked conical teeth and lined with extremely small, reflective scales, these fast-start predators will aggressively strike artificial lures. Although not specifically targeted by anglers, some species can exceed two feet in length and when hooked will provide a leaping challenge on light tackle.

Cynodontidae Cynodontidae

Highlighted by the fantastic payara, this family is readily recognized by their oblique mouths, exaggerated canines and their well-developed pectoral fins. Several species are encountered by anglers. Within the genus Hydrolicus, anglers pursue the giant payara (H. armatus) primarily in fast-moving rivers. Anglers may also encounter the smaller H. scomberoides in lowlands rivers. Both are known as pirandira in Brazil. The more elongate and more widely distributed Rhaphiodon vulpinus is also sought by anglers. Called biara or chafalote, they provide excellent sport.

Erythrinidae Erythrinidae

Characterized by their thick, cylindrical bodies and mouth full of wicked conical teeth, the fishes in this family, except for the ubiquitous traira, are poorly known to anglers. The larger, more desirable sporting species, such as the trairao (wolfish), tend to have smaller natural distributions in relatively fast water systems. Attaining enormous sizes (up to one meter for wolfish), they are aggressive and athletic game fish.

Lebiasinidae

Mostly known in the aquarium trade (as pencil fishes), this family contains 61 small species, found mostly in quiet, clear or blackwater streams. Not of interest to anglers.

Ctenolucidae Ctenolucidae

This family of elongate, pike-like predators is known as bicuda in Brazil, for their beak-like mouth. Armed with a single, comb-like row of fine teeth, some species can reach large sizes, up to nearly one meter in length. Among the finest of all freshwater gamefish, they are poorly known by all but the most adventurous of anglers.

Preserved specimens photographed at INPA (National Institute of Amazon Research), Manaus, Brazil

Amazon Game Fish Taxonomy - The Osteoglossids

The Order Osteoglossiformes

A primitive order in relation to other bony fishes, the Osteoglossiformes (bony-tongues) get their name from well-developed teeth on their tongues that bite against similar teeth on the roof of the mouth. Although they are primarily tropical dwellers, members of the order are found on all of the original Gondwanaland continents. They are represented in the Amazon by two very well-known game fish species.

References

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (06/2009).

Goulding, M. 1980. The fishes and the forest. University of California Press. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA.

Nelson J, (2006) Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Reis, R. E., S.O. Kullander, and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) 2003. Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS. Brasil. 620-621.

Taxonomic Grouping Latin Descriptor English Translation
Kingdom Animalia animals
Phylum Chordata with spinal cords
Subphylum Vertebrata with back bones
Superclass Gnathostoma jawed vertebrates
Grade Osteichthes bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii ray-finned fishes
Division Teleostei completed bones
Subdivision Oststeoglossomorpha  
Order Osteoglossiformes bony tongues
Neotropical Osteoglossid Families
Arapaimatidae Arapaima

This family contains only 2 species, the African bonytongue and the South American arapaima. Capable of growing to immense sizes (confirmed reports of 3.9 meters - over 12 feet), the arapaima has extremely large scales, a somewhat flattened head and a cylindrical body becoming laterally compressed posteriorly. Long a highly desired food fish, their reliance on atmospheric oxygen makes them visible to and easily captured by commercial fishers. Although populations are rebounding in some protected areas, the occurrence of extremely large individuals has become rare. Predatory fish eaters, they are a unique and interesting target for sport fishermen while their sheer size and power make them a memorable catch.

Osteoglossidae Aruana

Five species of Osteoglossidae exist, with two known from the Amazon and the remaining three from Southeast Asia and Australia. The family is generally elongate, laterally compressed and possesses large scales. Unlike Arapaimidae, they have very large, oblique mouths with barbels on the lower jaw. They are important in aquaria, as sport fishes (aruana) and as both commercial and subsistence food fishes .

Photos from INPA (National Institute of Amazon Research), Manaus, Brazil

Amazon Game Fish Taxonomy - The Clupeiformes

The Clupeid Order (Clupeiformes)

This large, mostly marine order contains the fishes known as herring, anchovies, shads and sardines. They are distributed throughout the world's oceans and coastal regions and are very important to international commercial fisheries. Most are schooling and some enter estuaries and freshwaters. The exclusively freshwater Amazon species may be the result of adaptations of marine species enclosed in freshwaters after the rise of the Andes or colonizers entering during saltwater incursions into the basin during geological periods of warming. Among the Amazon species, many are filter feeders. These fishes typically have a series of enlarged scales on their ventral edge, forming a keel-like surface. Three families are found in the Amazon.

References

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (06/2009).

Goulding, M. 1980. The fishes and the forest. University of California Press. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA.

Nelson J, (2006) Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Reis, R. E., S.O. Kullander, and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) 2003. Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS. Brasil. 620-621.

Taxonomic Grouping Latin Descriptor English Translation
Kingdom Animalia animals
Phylum Chordata with spinal cords
Subphylum Vertebrata with back bones
Superclass Gnathostoma jawed vertebrates
Grade Osteichthes bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii ray-finned fishes
Division Teleostei completed bones
Subdivision Ostarioclupeiomorpha bone-shield-form
Superorder Clupeomorpha  
Order Clupeiformes  
Amazon Clupeid Families
Clupeidae Four genera with about ten species are found in the Amazon region. All are smallish fishes (the largest less than a foot long) and of no interest to anglers.
Engraulidae Engraulidae

The Neotropical anchovies are small to medium fishes with underslung mouths and prominent snouts. They are covered with small, deciduous scales. Not of interest to anglers.

Pristigasteridae Pristigasteridae

Pristigasterids are sardine-like fishes externally distinguishable by their long anal fins. Mostly small to medium sized fishes, two species in the genus Pellona reach sizes exceeding half a meter and 17 pounds. Known as "apapá" or "sardinata", they are excellent game fish on conventional or fly tackle. They readily attack surface and subsurface artificial lures.

Preserved specimens photographed at INPA (National Institute of Amazon Research), Manaus, Brazil

Amazon Game Fish Taxonomy - The Perciformes

The Perciforme Order (Perciformes)

Perciformes is the largest of all fish orders with 160 families and over 10,000 different species world-wide. In fact, they are the single largest order of vertebrates in existence. Not only are they numerous, they are the most diversified of fishes, ranging dramatically in shape and form. Although they dominate vertebrate ocean life and much of freshwater, the Amazon basin is an exception, with its extraordinarily radiated Characiforme and Siluriforme orders. Following a recent taxonomic reclassification that removed the family Cichlidae from this order, Perciformes are now restricted to 4 Amazon families. They are now only a small component of the estimated 3000+ species represented by the other orders. Highly evolved fishes, Perciformes have well-developed skeletons and spiny fin rays. Their bodies are mostly covered by ctenoid scales and they possess complex protrusible jaws. This order is still undergoing taxonomic revision.

References

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (06/2009).

Goulding, M. 1980. The fishes and the forest. University of California Press. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA.

Nelson J, (2006) Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Reis, R. E., S.O. Kullander, and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) 2003. Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS. Brasil. 620-621.

Taxonomic Grouping Latin Descriptor English Translation
Kingdom Animalia animals
Phylum Chordata with spinal cords
Subphylum Vertebrata with back bones
Superclass Gnathostoma jawed vertebrates
Grade Osteichthes bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii ray-finned fishes
Division Teleostei  
Subdivision Euteleostei  
Superorder Acanthopterygii  
Series Percomorpha  
Order Perciformes  
Amazon Perciforme Families
Sciaenidae Sciaenidae

The Sciaenidae comprise a large family with members distributed throughout the world's coastal, estuarine and fresh waters. Mainly piscivorous, the Amazon genera are well distributed throughout the basin. Sciaenidae are distinguished by relatively soft fin rays and a prominent lateral line, in some species extending into the rays of the tail. Known as croakers or drums in English and corvina or pescada in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, the family is important for its value as commercial food fishes. Although most Amazon Sciaenidae are medium sized fishes, the genus Plagioscon has larger species (P. squamosissimus exceeding 3/4 meter in length) that are valued as game fishes.

Mugilidae

Two species of freshwater mullets occur in South America and several brackish water species enter Amazon waters. Not of interest to anglers.

Gobiidae

Gobies are primarily small fishes occupying coastal or marine habitats. Species in the genus Microphilypnus are strictly freshwater species and occur in the Amazon basin. Not of interest to anglers.

Polycentridae Leaf Fish

Known as leaf-fishes, the family comprises a group of small, cryptic, leaf-imitating fishes. Two South American species are both male fry guarders. Monocirrhus polyacanthus is endemic to the Amazon basin. Known in the aquarium trade, none are of interest to anglers.

Preserved specimens photographed at INPA (National Institute of Amazon Research), Manaus, Brazil

Amazon Game Fish Taxonomy - The Cichliformes

The NEW Cichliforme Order (cichliformes)

Recent taxonomic reorganization has modified the order Perciformes, removing the family Cichlidae and creating an altogether new order. The new order, Cichliformes, consists of two rather dissimilar families, reorganized as a result of molecular research. The family Pholidichthyidae (convict blennies)  consists of a single genus and two species. Contrastingly, the family Cichlidae is one of the largest families of fishes, with over 200 genera and more than 1700 species worldwide. In the Amazon, over 200 currently described species are present. Some of the best known, such as Angelfish, discuss, geophagus, uaru, rams and oscars populate aquaria. The genus Cichla, containing the  16 currently described species of peacock bass, provides anglers with the greatest of all freshwater thrills.

References

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (06/2009).

Goulding, M. 1980. The fishes and the forest. University of California Press. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA.

Nelson J, (2006) Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Reis, R. E., S.O. Kullander, and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) 2003. Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS. Brasil. 620-621.

Taxonomic Grouping Latin Descriptor English Translation
Kingdom Animalia animals
Phylum Chordata with spinal cords
Subphylum Vertebrata with back bones
Superclass Gnathostoma jawed vertebrates
Grade Osteichthes bony fishes
Class Actinopteri ray-finned fishes
Infraclass Teleostei  
Cohort Euteleosteomorpha  
Subsection Acanthomorphata  
Series Ovalentaria  
Superorder Cichlomorphae  
Order Cichliformes  
Amazon Cichliforme Families
Cichlidae Chaetobrancus-Cichlidae, Pike-Cichlid, Cichla

Cichlidae are one of the most well-known families of fishes for both aquarists and anglers. Species-rich, the family has over 1300 species world wide (mostly in Africa). The family is known for its often brilliant coloration, complex mating behavior and proclivity for providing extensive parental care of fry. Amazon Cichlids number about 200 species and include the mighty peacock bass, the unique and beautiful discus fish and the aquarium favorite, the oscar. Cichlidae feed on a variety of food types, ranging from plant matter to planckton to other fishes. Amazon predatory species have highly developed protrusible jaws. Amazon Cichlids breed pairwise and typically deposit adhesive eggs on a substrate, where both parents invest energy in guarding and tending to the eggs. There are several mouthbrooding species (Geophagus). Many species are strongly sexually dimorphic and in most species, the male is larger.

Preserved specimens photographed at INPA (National Institute of Amazon Research), Manaus, Brazil

Amazon World Records

World Records - If any fishing trip operating company can be said to have a philosophy, we do - Acute Angling's goes as follows; Since the traveling angler has selected an exotic fishing trip and not a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, it is reasonable to assume that what he most seeks is a great fishing experience, not a black-tie tourist extravaganza. Since it is our goal to satisfy our client's expectations, we believe it is appropriate for us to invest our energies and resources into providing the angler with safe, comfortable, firast-class access to the best fishing that can be found, without concern for irrelevant frills that do not serve either of those ends. As a result of this focus, Acute Angling has a long history of exploration and discovery. We constantly look for the road less traveled (or perhaps that should be water less paddled) in order to find that river that has never been fished or those fish that have never seen a lure. We don't really seek world records, just the waters where they might be found. The world records just follow naturally.

See a video montage about Russell Jensen's Amazon world records - caught with Acute Angling

Acute Angling's Amazon Exotic Species records with IGFA
Species Scientific Name Weight Angler Trip Year Type Status
Pescada Plagioscion squamosissimus 11 lbs. 4 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Travessao 2009 AT* Current
Piranha Serrasalmus rhombeus 7 lb and up Russell Jensen Rio Travessao various AT Past
Piranha Serrasalmus rhombeus 8 lbs. 7 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Travessao 2008 AT Current
Apapa Pellona castelnaeana 7 lb. 0 oz. Paul Reiss Rio Caura 2003 LC* Past
* Note - A T = All Tackle Record LC = Line Class Record

More Record-sized Amazon Exotics

Many of our anglers have caught world-record size fishes and have simply elected not to subject them to the extra handling and time necessitated by weighing and properly documenting their catch. Join us and catch your own!

Acute Angling's Amazon catfish records with IGFA
Species Scientific Name Weight Angler Trip Year Type Status
Piraiba Brachyplatystoma filamentosum 295 lb. 8 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Travessao 2007 AT* Current
Jau Zungaro zungaro 109 lb. Russell Jensen Rio Urariquera 2005 AT Current
Jundia Leiarius marmoratus 25 lb. 12 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Travessao 2008 AT Past
Jundia Leiarius marmoratus 28 lb. 11 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Travessao 2009 AT Current
Redtail Phractocephalus hemioliopterus 70 lb. 8 oz. Paul Reiss Rio Alegria 2003 LC* Past
Redtail Phractocephalus hemioliopterus 16 lb. 6 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Urariquera 2005 LC* Past
Jandi Rhamdia sebae 9 lb. 8 oz. Russell Jensen Rio Urariquera 2003 AT Current
* Note - A T = All Tackle Record LC = Line Class Record
Acute Angling's Amazon catfish record with the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
Species Scientific Name Weight Angler Trip Year Status
Jundia Leiarius marmoratus 23 lb. 8 oz. Larry Larsen Rio Travessao 2008 Current

Pirapitinga — Piaractus brachypomus — (Cuvier, 1818)

Order: Characiformes — A large, oval-shaped Characin, pirapitinga are encountered by anglers in high gradient Amazon tributary rivers, particularly in the Guyana Shield region. A powerful fighter, they are omnivorous in their feeding habits and can be taken on artificial lures, fruit or even cut bait. Their crushing jaws can make short work of the strongest hooks. Commonly called pacu, these omnivorous fish are significantly different in size, shape and behavior than the large numbers of small, herbivorous aquarium species generally identified as pacu in the Myleus and Metynnis genera.

Amazon exotic fish species Pirapitinga also known as Pacu
Pirapitinga- Black Pacu

ID Key:

Heavy-bodied oval fish with human-like teeth.

Fishing Tactics

Amazon exotic fish species Pirapitinga caught on an Amazon fishing trip
Pirapitinga

Under extremely low water conditions, the omnivorous pirapitinga can be specifically targeted by anglers with artificial lures or flies. They can be seen surfacing in small schools at the slack-water edges of rapids and will occasionally hunt in fast water tailraces. One of the most productive lures for pirapitinga in these conditions is a 3/4 ounce floating, silver or other natural shade Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow. Anglers can cast directly to them when schools occupying slack water are evident. A well placed cast will often be rewarded with a strike. In tailraces, blind casting is the only option and, of course, may yield other species (such as payara), depending on the river system.

Under most water-level conditions, small native fruits can be amazingly productive, especially in a period where they are ripening throughout the area. A bush bearing a small fruit known as "casari" is often a common river-edge occurrence. If water levels are high enough to enable ripe fruit to fall into the water, pirapitinga will focus on these readily available tidbits. Anglers can collect the fruits and drift them into waters holding pirapitinga. It is a remarkable experience when a fish shaped like a small delivery van and as powerful as a Mack truck gently mouths a ping-pong ball sized fruit, only to shift into full drive when an angler sets the hook.

Anglers often encounter pirapitinga when fishing for other species with cut bait. It makes for an exciting surprise.

Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
Uniformly dark dorsally with mottled dark patterning on a lighter background laterally and silvery ventrally Purplish above, with a glossy sheen ranging from silvery to bronzy. Darker gray over silvery gray mottled on sides. Adults: Adults: can exceed 55 pounds (.75 meters) well-developed adipose fin
human-like dentition
Another, smaller species of Piaractus, P. Mesopotamicus (called Pacu Caranha) is found in the Pantanal and Paraguay/Parana basins.
The larger "tambaqui" (Colossoma macropomum) is a migrant in lowlands trunk rivers and is farmed widely.
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana.

River Basins: Amazon and Orinoco drainages
When available, particularly during high water periods, they eat fruit falling into the water. When water levels are low, they will opportunistically feed on small fish and other food swept into eddies below waterfalls. In high gradient rivers, they often occupy slack waters below waterfalls as well as steep banks in slower, wider sections. English:
Black Pacu:

A confusing common name usage. 
Brazil: Pirapitinga
Other: Morocoto (Venezuela)
All-tackle;
24.95 kg.
(55 lb. 0 oz.) 

Bicuda — Boulengerella cuvieri  — (Agassiz, 1829)

Order: Characiformes —Several species of Boulengerella and Cytenolucius (a similar genus) are found in the Amazon basin. Most are small and not pursued by sportfishermen, but B. cuvieri is an altogether different beast. Attaining weights in excess of 15 pounds, these aggressive fast-start predators are a prized Amazon adversary. Taking to the air instantly, they keep the fight right where the angler can see it, above the water. Their repeated jumps and bony mouths make landing a big specimen an exceptional angling accomplishment.

Where to catch: Rio Travessao Multi-Species trip

ID Key:

Elongate, pike-like body. Bony beak-like mouth with sharp, fine, comb-like teeth. Red and black tail.

The Amazon exotic game fish species Bicuda
Bicuda

Fishing Tactics

One of the Amazon's most spectacular and challenging game fish, giant bicuda are a difficult species to target. Nonetheless anglers can improve their chances at encountering bicuda by focusing on several techniques and habitats. Since they are dwellers in high gradient rivers and distributed throughout those river's habitats at different times, anglers can encounter them in several manners;

When feeding, bicuda will actively pursue lures in fast-water tailraces below waterfalls and in rocky areas or banks at the edges of pools. In these habitats they are most easily caught with small to medium subsurface swimming plugs, such as Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, Rapala CD 11 and bright streamer flies on a sinking line. Work close to rocks and retrieve baits fairly slowly, swimming them around and through submerged rock structure. Hookups in these conditions and with these types of bait are often surer than in other circumstances, however, it is recommended that you try to set the hook very forcefully before they start jumping. Once airborne, they are experts at sending your lure right back to you via airmail.

 

During sunny midday and afternoon hours, small groups of bicuda can be encountered laid up on beaches, literally at the shallowest edges. A walking stick bait such as a Heddon Super Spook cast right next to the shoreline will often elicit an immediate and violent surface strike. Who knows why? Perhaps they're annoyed at being disturbed while sun bathing! Regardless of what elicits this reaction, things happen fast now. The hookset must occur immediately under difficult conditions since lines are rarely tight and rods rarely well-positioned when an angler is taken by surprise (believe me you're never ready for this even if you're planning it). The bicuda will immediately begin tailwalking across the surface. If you survive the aerial reaction, you have a good chance of landing the fish once he begins his series of short fast runs. If not, and your lure came flying out, well, you just got one heck of a good show.

Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
None, body relatively uniform and free of any clearly visible markings. Red tail with black center stands out None, body relatively uniform and free of any clearly visible markings. Red tail with black center stands out Adults: can reach over 1 meter in length, up to 16 lbs. comb-like teeth
beak-like mouth
elongate shape
red tail
Several similar, but smaller species of Boulengerella are found throughout the Amazon basin
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, French Guiana.

River Basins: Amazon, Orinoco, Tocantins, Oyapock and Essequibo drainages
Often found in small groups in shallow water against beaches at midday. Actively feed in fast water, especially around rocks. In high gradient rivers, they appear to occupy all habitats, from rapids to quiet pools. English: bicuda
Brazil: bicuda,
Other: Boulengerella
All-tackle;
7.26 kg.
(16 lb. 0 oz.) 

Wolfish (Trairão) — Hoplius aimara — (Valenciennes, 1847)

Order: Characiformes — 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.

Where to catch: Rio Travessao Multi-Species trip

ID Key:

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. Large scales with dark edges give a big specimens reticulated appearance.

 
Amazon game fish species trairao, also known as aimara
Trairão - Aimara - Wolfish — A favorite adversary on our Multi-species variety trips

Fishing Tactics

The trairão (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 trairão 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. Trairão 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 trairão. 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 trairão 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 trairão 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 trairão comes blasting up from the bottom and begins leaping scant yards from your boat.

During very low water periods, trairão 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, trairão are an especially attractive target for the Amazon angler.

Identification Keys
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 nearly 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 species, Traira (Hoplias malabaricus) looks like a smaller version of trairão and is found throughout South America
Angler's Summary
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 on down-current sides of  rocks. Creek mouths are particularly attractive lairs. English: Giant Trahira, Aymara Wolf-fish (TV name)
Brazil: Trairão ( like try-ear-own)
Other: Aimara
All-tackle;
14.95 kg.
(32 lb. 15 oz.) 

Pescada — Plagioscion squamosissimus — (Heckel, 1840)

Order: Perciformes — This large, silvery predator is well distributed through-out the Amazon basin and in waters holding peacock bass, making them a good alternative target. They tend to occupy deeper, oxygenated waters, often near lagoon mouths and away from the littoral (shoreline) areas most frequented by peacocks.

Where to catch: Rio Travessao Multi-Species Trip, Floating Bungalow Trip, Blackwater Explorer Yacht Trip

ID Key:

Silvery body with prominent lateral line, long second dorsal and large, oblique mouth.

Amazon game fish species Pescada
Pescada are often found in waters with Peacock Bass, making them a nice alternative target.

Fishing Tactics

Pescada
 

Relatively aggressive feeders, pescada will take a wide range of artificial lures, cut bait and live bait. In lowlands rivers, they can be targeted in lagoon mouths widely open to the river channel. Anglers usually access them with deeper running swimming plugs or lipless baits, such as rapalas, rattletraps, shad raps, jigs, etc.

In high gradient rivers, pescada will take CD 11 and CD 14 rapalas, spoons and even flies when fished deep in quiet pools. They are often caught on cut bait when fishing for catfish. A good fighter, they tend to run deep, rarely jumping. Pescada make delicious table fare.

 
Pescada
Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
Body relatively uniform and free of any clearly visible markings except for a large, black blotch at the base of the pectoral fin. Reflective silver on lateral body, dorsally slightly darker. Abdomen lighter. Fins may have reddish cast Adults: up to 15 lbs
(3/4 meter)
prominent lateral line
Silver scales
black mark at base of pectoral
Several species of Plagioscon are found in the Amazon basin; however none reach the size of P. squamosissimus.
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Suriname, Guyana, Fr. Guiana

River Basins: Amazon, Orinoco, Parana, Sao Francisco and Guianas drainages
Makes migrations which may combine feeding and spawning purposes. As with other Sciaenids (drums), can be heard making underwater sounds Found in deeper waters within lowlands river systems and in slower waters and deep pools in high gradient rivers. English: Silver Croaker
Brazil: Pescada
Other: Corvina
All-tackle;
5.10 kg.
(11 lb. 4 oz.) 
Caught by Russell Jensen on an Acute Angling trip
World Record Silver Croaker

Apapa — Pellona castelnaeana — (Valenciennes, 1847)

Order: Clupeiformes — Looking like super-sized sardines, "apapa" are large, migratory clupeids, feeding mostly on other fishes. Although they seem to be most active in twilit hours, they can be readily caught throughout the day. Focused mainly on surface or shallow subsurface oriented prey, they are typically encountered in large schools. They can present anglers with extended fishing frenzies!

Where to catch: Variety Floating Bungalow Trip

ID Key:

Mostly golden in color, they have laterally compressed fusiform bodies and upturned mouths.

Amazon exotic game fish species Apapa, also known as Sardinata
Apapa

Fishing Tactics

Sardinata Apapa Trophy
Apapa Trophies

Anglers can fish for apapa as distributed individuals or in small groups during most of the day. They will often hold against steep banks or down-current sides of points. Streamer flies, small swimming plugs and jigs are effective in these circumstances. Apapa will attack head on, flashing and turning as they take the bait, often hooking themselves in the process. They are strong fighters and readily jump with gill-rattling head shakes. On occasion anglers may encounter feeding schools of apapa. Small poppers, zara spooks and skitterpops are particularly effective. A lure may get hit several times on a retrieve until a volunteer succeeds in hooking itself.

Apapa are great fly rod adversaries, readily taking small streamers and poppers and mounting a strong, acrobatic fight.

apapa
Apapa
Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
None, body relatively uniform and free of any clearly visible markings. Gold color tends to be most intense along the central line of the body. Silvery yellow to gold coloration. Fins darker with orange/gold coloration on jaw and operculum. Adults: up to about .75 meters and almost 20 pounds laterally compressed
upturned mouth
streamlined fusiform shape
gold color
Two similar species occur in the Amazon, 
P. castelnaeana is the larger of the two, P. flavipinnis,  attains sizes up to 8 pounds. 
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, possibly others.

River Basins: Amazon, Orinoco and possibly others.
Apapa feed actively late in the day. Schools may encircle baitfish schools and feed extensively on the trapped bait. Known to move into secondary rivers in large schools Found distributed along banks when not actively moving as a school. English: Amazon Pellona
Brazil: Apapa
Other: Sardinata
All-tackle;
7.10 kg.
(15 lb. 10 oz.) 

Aruana — Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum — (Cuvier, 1829)

Order: Osteoglossiformes — An interesting target for anglers, especially on light tackle, aruana are found in a wide-range of water types. They have earned the epithet, monkey-fish (macaco da agua) due to their penchant for leaping out of the water to pluck unsuspecting insects and even small birds from overhanging branches. They will strike both surface and subsurface baits as well as well-presented flies.

Where to catch: Floating Bungalow Trip; Blackwater Explorer; Adventurer

ID Key:

Large scales, laterally compressed, ribbon-like body and large, gaping, oblique mouth with barbels on chin

Fishing Tactics

Inhabiting similar waters, aruana are often caught by peacock bass anglers. Aruana readily take most of the same baits, including walking stick baits, jigs, swimming plugs and even the occasional prop bait. They will also readily strike a fly. Anglers can target them by sight fishing, since they are often readily visible near the surface and under overhanging limbs. On occasion small schools swimming near the surface can be encountered in open water, where they make a ready target for a well-cast lure. A pleasure on a fly rod.

Exotic Amazon fish species Aruana
Aruana
Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
The body is relatively uniform and free of markings. Individual scales however, contain subtle gradations of color. Their large scales create a reticulated effect overlying the background color. Ranging from silvery to brassy. Abdomen lighter. Reticulate pattern of color on glossy scales creates a network of pink to purplish color. Adults: up to almost 1 meter and exceeding 11 pounds. barbels on lower jaw,
elongate, laterally compressed body
small tail w/extended dorsal and anal fins
large oblique jaw
large scales
Two species of aruana are found in the Amazon basin.
O. bicirrhosum is widespread, while
a smaller species,
O. ferreirai, is restricted to the Rio Negro basin.
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Fr. Guiana.
River Basins: Amazon, Rupununi and Oyapock drainages
A mouthbrooder,  the male cares for the young. Aruana exploit a wide variety of foods, stomach contents include insects, crustaceans, terrestrial vertebrates (birds, reptiles and small mammals), fish, and even plant material. Inhabits the flooded forest during high water and concentrates in lagoons and lakes during low water. Often found very close to shore. Sometimes it occurs in open water in small schools of up to 50 fish. English: Arrowana
Brazil: Aruana
All-tackle;
6.58 kg.
(14 lb. 8 oz.) 

ArapaimaArapaima gigas —(Schinz, 1822)

Order: Osteoglossiformes — Arapaima are the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world. Specimens over 600 pounds and over 12 feet long were said to be not uncommon in the past, before they became a favorite of urban fish gourmets. Now a mainstay of pisciculturists, wild populations are recovering in several protected areas. Arapaima are obligatory air-breathers, periodically surfacing to gulp air. Oxygen is absorbed by a vascularized air bladder while CO2 is exchanged via their gills. Their mouth-brooding, fry-protective behavior has allowed them to succeed as transplants outside of the Amazon.

Where to catch:  Acute Angling Arapaima Day Trip

ID Key:

The arapaima's enormous size, flattened head, terminal mouth and large silvery scales with bright red patterning are distinctive.

Exotic Amazon fish species Arapaima, also known as Pirarucu
Arapaima - Pirarucu

Fishing Tactics

Arapaima are usually difficult to catch with artificial lures. Most non-targeted encounters are by peacock bass anglers who see the big beasts surfacing in a lagoon. What generally occurs immediately afterward is that two anglers will quickly whip the water into a froth, hoping to entice a hook-up. Although arapaima will occasionally strike a lure, most often the sighting leads to nothing more than an exciting interlude.

Anglers can be more successful when targeting arapaima with cut bait, or even better, live bait. Small whole fishes on a wide gap circle hook work well, especially if a small piece of foam is inserted in the gills to keep the bait near the surface. The take is very visible. Anglers should allow the line to go tight and then point the rod tip at the fish, so the circle hook can do its work. A "J" or treble hook is usually more difficult because the angler must drive the hookset into the arapaima's bony, hard mouth. The fish at left, weighing approximately 180 pounds, was caught using a live "tamatoa" (a small armored catfish) as bait.

Once hooked, they tend to make runs appropriate to the location. In small lagoons, they tend to run to a bank or up to a heavy structure object and simply stop, perhaps they're not yet really sure they have a problem. Once the pressure returns, they'll leave that spot and run to another. The resulting fight consists of a series of short, albeit unstoppable runs, continuing until the fish tires. In more open water, a large fish is capable of rapidly spooling an angler. Once a run begins here, guides must quickly fire up the boat and follow or watch the line disappear into the sunset. These more sustained runs will help to tire the fish more quickly. Once the fish is at the boat (or perhaps better stated as the boat is at the fish), the real fun begins. Just because they've stopped running, doesn't mean they'll let you manhandle them into the boat for a photo. Even when tired, a fish this large and this strong can be unpredictable. It's probably easiest to simply join the tired fish in the water for a photo (as was done at left) making for a less stressful capture (and release) for all concerned.

Trophy Arapaima 185 pounds
Trophy Arapaima weighing in at 185 pounds caught on an Acute Angling Amazon fishing trip.
Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
The extremely large scales are edged in bright red pigmentation forming an array of fine, diagonal, stripe-like markings. Light silvery white anterior, darkening to a steel grey, highlighted by bright red to purple markings posteriorly. Juveniles: almost a foot long after adult care stops. Rapid growers.

Adults: up to about 650 pounds (4 meters)
enormous size
distinctive shape
large scales
Red markings
The arapaima is truly one of a kind and not likely to be mistaken for anything else in the Amazon.
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana.

River Basins: Amazon basin

Transplanted: Thailand
Arapaima aggressively defend their young. If a nest site is stumbled upon by anglers, these huge fish will sometimes swirl, roll and even leap in an effort to scare off intruders. Once widely distributed throughout the Amazon basin, they occupied most lowlands rivers and floodplains. Their air breathing ability allowed them to exploit these widely variable habitats English: Arapaima
Brazil: Pirarucu
Other: Paiche
All-tackle;
154.00 kg.
(339 lb. 8 oz.)

Amazon Variety Fishing Trips - The Grand Slams

They say variety is the spice of life. That makes the Rio Travessão one spicy destination. Most people consider a fishery with 3 or 4 attractive gamefish to be very, very good. They’d probably say 7 or 8 is great. I guess the only thing you can say about the Rio Travessão, with more than a dozen species of awesome gamefish, is that it’s simply amazing. What’s even better is that the range of fishing styles is as broad as the list of species is long.

Rio Travessao payara
A big toothy payara

The Predator Grand Slam - For anglers favoring artificial lures or flies, the Travessão offers a "grand slam" consisting of four of the world’s greatest freshwater fighting fish. Take your surface lures or shallow runners and plug away at the Travessão’s ubiquitous rock formations. Big, stocky peacock bass will slam your presentation with unabashed violence. The unique peacock species found here, while not quite as big as its brethren in the lowland rivers, tends to average an extraordinarily hefty 6 to 10 pounds, with big specimens attaining a broad-shouldered, tackle-busting 15 pounds.

If the peacocks don’t get you, the trairão (wolfish) surely will. Slipping out of their slack-water hideouts, they stealthily ambush passing baits. Set the hook and then the leaping, thrashing battle is on. Watching a 15 or 20 pound Jurassic-looking monster pirouetting through the air is the kind of thing that will make any fisherman’s heart pound, but it’s just the beginning. When the talk turns to overall fighting power, the leader of the pack is the toothy payara. Lure-pounding, line-stripping, saber-toothed demons, these beasts have amazing stamina, leaving anglers wondering who’s going to quit first. Dominating the fast-water tailraces of the Travessão, payara are one of the world’s greatest gamefish. We’ve caught them here up to 36 pounds!

Complete the Travessão’s predator grand slam with the elusive giant bicuda. Although often hard to find, these high-speed predators cut and slash at Zara Spooks and Yo-zuri’s in fast water or slow. Their bony mouths and flying, head-shaking leaps send lures flying through the air, making big bicuda a prize indeed to land. Without question, the Travessão holds world-record size bicuda.

Want more on lure or fly? There are hefty pescada, a silvery Amazon croaker. The world-record was recently caught here. There are several species of chunky pacu and colorful jacunda. The Travessão has piranha the size of an Escalade SUV’s hubcaps. We’ve twice set the world record for black piranha here.

Rio Travessao peacock bass
Larry Larsen with a Travessao peacock bass.
Rio Travessao Trairao
Russell Jensen with a Trairao.

The Catfish Grand Slam - As if one grand slam opportunity isn’t enough, the Travessão offers even more. The Travessão boasts some serious catfish species. Enormous, incredible catfish. Nowhere else can an angler find a catfish grand slam like this one. Fast, sleek, sorubim will pounce on a lure or a cut bait and run for the hills. Reaching up to 50 pounds, these beautiful shovel-nosed cats are only the beginning. The Travessão has produced a new IGFA record for burly jundira catfish year after year. Delicious to eat and a blast on medium tackle, these strong cats populate deep, swirling eddies.

Move to the big, deep pools and you’ll find big, bottom-hugging redtail catfish that reach over 100 pounds. They can spool a hefty peacock rod before a guide can start up an outboard. If you can manage to stay hooked up, they’ll thoroughly test your stamina as well as your tackle. Then there’s the capstone of the Amazon catfishes, the mighty piraiba, the goliath catfish. A previous IGFA world record was caught here several years ago at 295 pounds and we’ve seen two that were even bigger since then. Stout, stiff rods, high capacity reels and 100 pound braid are the only way to ensure success with these mighty brutes. If your muscles still work after completing this heavyweight grand slam, you can fish for Bocão, chunky jau and odd-looking barba-chata to round out the big catfish species.

Red-tail catfish
A big red-tailed cat.

The pristine surroundings, protected by an Indian reservation, are an attraction in their own right. The Travessão’s natural beauty and isolation allows visitors to develop a serenity of mind and a state of spirituality that can return a sense of wonder to even the most jaded traveler. Comfortable Picapau lodge on the Rio Travessão is situated in the midst of this natural fishing treasure. Very comfortable cabins boast air-conditioning, private bathrooms, separate shower stalls and roomy surroundings. The operation is well-equipped with generators, refrigeration, outdoor lighting and a great kitchen with gourmet food and fine wine. Anglers are responsible only to experience an amazing Amazon adventure and eat, drink, sleep and fish!

Join us in this amazing and unique fishing wonderland. Some of the world’s most famous angling stars already have. During our 2009 season, we were pleased to host ESPN’s Jose Wejebe and crew, followed by the Peacock Bass Association’s Larry Larsen and then Global Adventures' Steve Townson, filming for www.OnlineFishing.tv. Recently we’ve had the pleasure of hosting Cyril Chauquet of “Chasing Monsters” and Shea McIntee of “Stoked on Fishing”. Trips operate from October through February. For more information or to book a trip to the Rio Travessão, call us, toll-free at Acute Angling, 866 832-2987.