Peacocks and Rocks
Peacocks and Rocks - by Colin Roberts - Fishing Wild Magazine
I KNEW well in advance of booking this trip that conditions were going to be tough. After all, only a handful of whites had ventured into this incredibly remote Amazonian Indian Reservation which had been cut off from the rest of the world since time immemorial. Luckily we had permission - a deal brokered by peacock angling specialist Paul Reiss of U.S based Acute Angling, his Brazilian partners and around 100 Indian chiefs as signatories. Not so lucky were two gold miners who entered without permission - never to be seen again.
In an exchange of e-mails with Reiss I got wind of a potential amazing new fishery for all manner of species in the reservation. He mentioned that we would have to rough it - camping in pup tents, eating what we catch for food, bathing in the river amongst the piranha, and to use his vernacular, "crapping in the woods." On the positive side we would be fishing
about a 160 kilometre stretch of an untouched river teeming with giant piranha, payara, bicuda and where the discovery of a potential new species of peacock bass awaited formal reporting and further scientific study. In addition the scenery and wildlife was meant to be unbelievable and we would have the unique chance to interact with the Indians - who would in any event be our guides and bush tucker gatherers. This is the type of trip that is right up Fishing Wild's alley and I had no hesitation in accepting the challenge and quickly organising a team of like-minded individuals.
We knew it was going to be a challenging week but never did we expect the problems that lay before us. In the early stages of the trip - or perhaps "endurance test" would be a more apt description - this article looked like it would be more suited to the Horror Travel Stories column in the magazine, yet the
words of Rob Bland - one of the group - rang true: "start bad, finish good." That's exactly how it panned out to such an extent that it will go down as one of the most frustrating, heart wrenching yet at the same time satisfying and enjoyable trips both in fishing and cultural terms that I have ever had the good fortune to undertake.
Things did not get off to an auspicious start. We were due to fly from the Amazonian provincial city of Manaus to the small township of Sao Luiz Do Anaua before embarking on a two hour road trip to our ultimate destination - the Rio Travessão. That was until we received word that one of Reiss's partners who had been commissioned to collect the boats and motors from another camp on the Urariquera River system and put in situ had gone missing for the past four days. No-one had heard from him after he had departed the township of Boa Vista in his truck. With no camp set up Reiss had little option but to put the flight off to the following day and hope that his partner would miraculously wander in from the jungle.
While we enjoyed the delights of Manaus, Reiss worked the satellite phone attempting to track down his partner missing in action and looking at alternate options. He arranged to hire some dugouts from the Indians as an alternative and again booked the charter plane.
The following morning we learned that the partner had been located and would arrive at our destination that afternoon. After heavy rains in the region the road had become washed out, requiring loads of blood sweat and tears to build a new track which took days to complete. At least he was alive and we would only lose a day of fishing - or that's what we thought.
Sao Luiz Do Anaua is remote cattle country. Its notoriety as a bovine centre no doubt enhanced by the number and size of the cow pads found throughout the