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The Angler's Guide to Payara

A guide to the different species known as payara, their taxonomy, biology & how to catch them.

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BiaraRhapiodon vulpinus—(Spix & Agassiz, 1829)

Biara caught on a recent Amazon fishing trip.

Rhapiodon is widely distributed throughout most of South America's major river basins. Looking like a stretch version of a payara (Hydrolycus spp.), the biara is a ready adversary for anglers, aggressively striking artificial lures often meant for other species. The specimen at right weighed 6 pounds and would have been a world record had we had solid ground to weigh it on. We've seen them even larger, exceeding 8 pounds.

ID Key: Silvery, elongate body. Unique ribbon-like whiskers.

Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
Occasional, irregular black or dark markings ventrally, otherwise fairly uniform coloration. Body silvery above. Abdomen white. Adults: Said to exceed one meter in length and reach 18 pounds Long, flat whiskers  
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Venezuela.

River Basins: Amazon, Orinoco, Essequibo and Parana drainages.
Said to be migratory within freshwater systems. Primarily occupies lotic (moving water) environments in highlands river systems. English: Flatwhiskered catfish
Local: Barba-chata
16 pounds 15 oz.
Rio Xingu

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