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Amazon Exotic Species

A guide to the exotic fish species
encountered on our Amazon fishing trips

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ApapaPellona castelnaeana—(Valenciennes, 1847)

Amazon exotic game fish species Apapa, also known as Sardinata

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.

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 very similar species occur in the Amazon, with overlapping ranges. P.castelnaeana and P. flavipinnis, both achieving large sizes. P.castelnaeana has been identified as the species most encountered by anglers, although further investigation may help clarify this.
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
15 lbs. 10 oz., 
Rio Caura,
Venezuela, 1999

Fishing Tactics

Sardinata Apapa Trophy
Apapa Trophies caught on Acute Angling fishing trips

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.


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