FAQ: About Amazon Fishing

What's the best season?

peacock bass
Paul Reiss holds up a huge Rio Curicuriari peacock bass.

What's the best time to go? - Well, sometime between August and March; but the real answer isn't quite that simple. Seasons in the Amazon basin do not correspond to seasons in the temperate zones. Rivers in Amazonia all experience a cyclical period of high and low water each year. During the "rainy" season, Amazonian rivers can rise 12 meters or more, overflowing their banks and inundating huge areas of low-lying forest. This flooded forest (known as 'igapó' or “varzea” — depending on locale) offers superior forage and cover for many species of baitfish. Their predators, including peacock bass, follow them into the flooded vegetation where they become all but impossible to catch.

Thus, the only fishable season for peacock bass is the "dry" season, beginning after the rains end, the flood abates and the rivers drop within their banks. As water levels fall, baitfish head back into the main river and connected lagoons to avoid being stranded in the rapidly drying floodplain. The peacocks follow as well and begin to gorge on the now concentrated food supply prior to preparing to spawn. This is the period when their accessibility coupled with their aggressive behavior make them the most exciting freshwater fish in the world. But, these periods vary in their timing from region to region.

The dry season begins to move into the range of the giant peacock bass (Cichla temensis) in the southern part of the Amazon basin in June and July. Southern rivers in the Rio Madeira basin begin to provide optimal fishing in August, making rivers such as the Matupiri and the Igapo Acu among the optimal destinations for peacock bass, right through October. By mid-October, optimal water levels move north past the main stem of the Amazon itself, optimizing fishing in tributaries of the lower Rio Negro. Come, January, tributaries in the Central Rio Negro basin offer some of the best Amazon peacock bass fishing, right on through March.

Although the answer to “when is the best season “ is complex, it basically means that great peacock bass fishing is available somewhere in Amazonia from August through March. In essence, all of Acute Angling’s operations move with the seasons, ensuring that you’re always in the right place at the right time.

For more information see our website article: A Peacock Bass Primer - Part II - 'The Fishery' - with a section about Amazonian seasons.

Where is the best place?

Amazon tributaries
The complexity of Amazon floodplain structure.

Where is the best place? - The giant peacock bass (Cichla temensis) is found only in the Amazon basin, primarily in Brazil but with small parts of its range extending into Venezuela and Colombia. In today’s world, Brazil is far and away the best choice. Politically stable and friendly to tourism, anglers can find eight months worth of superb fishing for giant peacock bass in Brazil’s central Amazon lowlands. But it is such an enormous place, that even this is an oversimplification. Furthermore, ‘where to go’ and ‘when to go’ are inexorably tied together. In fact, the selection of when you go will mostly determine where you go.

As the dry season moves through giant peacock bass habitat from south to north, secondary and tertiary tributaries of Amazon trunk rivers, (the Madeira, the Negro and the Branco) will offer the world’s best peacock bass fishing.

The best locations to fish for them are always remote; away from populations and easy access. The sport fisherman will generally do best traveling well into the smaller tributary rivers or isolated paranás and complex archipelagos associated with main rivers. Here, lagoons and floodplain structure provide superior fishing grounds while the pristine surroundings and profound isolation serve to greatly enhance the Amazon experience. Acute Angling knows the destinations that will put you where the fish are and the crowds aren't.

For more information see: A Peacock Bass Primer - Where to Catch Them — an article about peacock bass destinations.

Where are the biggest fish?

Rio Negro Fisheries
(Click to Enlarge)
Here there be giants
The Rio Negro basin holds the world’s largest peacock bass — The Rio Curicuriari holds the highest percentage of them

The Rio Negro basin not only holds the world’s biggest peacock bass, but it is also the world’s biggest peacock bass fishery. In fact, the Rio Negro is the largest blackwater river in the world, and one of the world's ten largest rivers by volume. At 1400 miles in length, the Rio Negro is so big, that its western reaches have a different dry season than its eastern reaches. Correspondingly, our trips operate in the Rio Negro basin in two different seasons.

Beginning in August, the western Rio Negro’s premiere giant peacock bass fishery, the Rio Curicuriari, offers access to the highest percentage of trophy sized, over 20 pound, peacocks yet measured anywhere in the basin. This heavily tannin-stained blackwater system is located at the western edge of Amazonas state and is truly the last frontier of trophy peacock bass fishing. This exclusive, Indian reservation river is fishable through November, during the principal dry season of its unusual bimodal flood-pulse.

From mid-October through March, lower and central sections of the Rio Negro basin enter their optimal fishing conditions. A score of blackwater rivers, such as the Araca, Alegria, Cuini, Caures and the mighty Rio Negro itself become our angler’s destinations. The region’s principal fishing characteristic is simply that peacocks just grow bigger here; the world-record peacock bass may very well explode on your lure on the very next cast. The tannin-stained, austere waters of this basin support less biomass than more lightly stained rivers, hence daily catch numbers are somewhat lower than the southern fisheries, but anglers will still realize plenty of fish each day. For more about trips in this area see "Our Trips" in the menu above.

Of the sixteen recognized species of peacock bass, Cichla temensis is by far the largest, reaching weights well over 20-pounds. This giant species does not thrive in waters that can't maintain the same warm temperatures that are found in the Amazon basin. While several other species of peacock bass, notably the much smaller C.ocellaris and C. monoculus have been successfully transplanted to Florida, Panama, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, the giant Cichla temensis has been unable to be transplanted outside of its native Amazonia. So, if you really want the true monster peacock bass experience, the Amazon is your destination.  These fish just aren’t found anywhere else.

For more information see our: Peacock Bass Species Guide - a descriptive guide to the species of peacock bass.

Where are the most fish?

Rio Madeira basin fisheries

Here, there are so many fish your arms will tire
The Rio Madeira basin holds huge numbers of peacocks — The rivers of the exclusive, protected Igapó Açu Indian Reservation hold even more than the other rivers in the region.
 

Great numbers are more appealing to many anglers than focusing on trophy size. If constant action is your preference, we recommend our exclusive ‘southern’ Brazilian fisheries like the Igapo Acu, Autaz Mirrim or Matupiri Rivers. These rivers can produce enormous numbers of small to medium peacocks with plenty of fish in the teens, while still holding out the possibility of a 20 pound plus trophy. If this is your idea of a great time, then join us on our exclusive August — October trips in the amazingly productive Igapó Açu Indian reservation — Click here for info

What about non-anglers?

Is this a trip for non-anglers? - Absolutely. The sights and experiences of the Amazon alone are worth the trip. But we do suggest spending time on the rivers and lagoons with your fishing partner so that you can experience them in full. Or better yet, perhaps this would be a good time for you to give fishing a try. There isn’t a more rewarding and satisfying way to become involved in the sport than to experience the excitement of tangling with big, tough and aggressive peacocks right from the start. Our guides are great teachers and you’ll have fun learning. Moreover, you'll be immersed in the most awesome ecosystem in the world!

Caboclos
There are lots of sights to see and things to learn in the Amazon

For more information see: Amazon Adventures - There's more to it than just the fishing!

What about fly-fishing?

peacock bass on the fly
Peacock Bass on the Fly

What about fly fishing? - There is no more exiting fly fishing quarry than the wild and brutish peacock bass. This is where subtlety and finesse meets sheer physical power—a true test of tackle and techniques. Acute Angling operates in some of the Amazon’s best fly fisheries. Here are some general guidelines:

Patterns -Extra-large streamers fished on a sinking line are most productive (not only for overall numbers, but for larger-sized fish as well). We highly recommend “Sidewinder's Peacock Rattle Fly” in red/yellow.

amazon peacock bass fly fishing equipment
Sidewinder’s Peacock Bass Rattle Fly

Other popular streamers include 6-inch (5/0) bi- colored bucktails in red/yellow, olive/ white and red/white. Big Deceivers, Bunnies, Saltwater Zonkers, Clousser Minnows and other flashy baitfish imitations will also take fish. All patterns should have generous amounts of matching Flashabou or Crystal Flash. Although big saltwater poppers are exciting to fish, they can be extremely exhausting to cast and retrieve while not terribly effective at coaxing bigger fish to the surface.

Fly rods should be fast action models to load sinking lines more efficiently and provide needed 'backbone'. Bring at least two, because rods can break under the ‘jungle stress’. Reels don't need to hold a lot of backing since peacocks don't make long runs, but a smooth, strong drag is essential. Recommended 'heavy' fly rod & reel combinations for sinking line: A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, nine -weight rod (Sage 990-3RPLX or G. Loomis FR1089-4) with Scientific Anglers 'System 2 -89'. Recommended 'medium' fly rod & reel combination (for floating lines): A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, seven or eight-weight rod and matched reel.

Sinking lines are much more effective for streamers than floating lines. Don't bring just any old loop-on sink tip. An integrated sinking line such as a Rio 24-foot 300- grain Density Compensated line is easier to cast and can be fished on anything from an 8 to 10 weight rod. If you’re so inclined, you can also bring a floating line with a drastic weight-forward taper for poppers and sliders for great surface fun.

amazon peacock bass fly fishing equipment
Soft mono leader. A loop knot helps optimize fly action.

Leaders: Peacocks are not leader shy. Most fly anglers use a straight shot (approximately six feet) of flexible 50 pound monofilament leader. Anything lighter can be snapped off like sewing thread if that fifteen 'pounder' runs you into a wood pile. You will go through a lot of leader material, because of the peacock's abrasive teeth. We recommend buying a package of soft monofilament leader material (we like Jinkai). If you're trying for an IGFA record, you'll have to follow their leader specifications, of course.

peacock bass on the fly
Peacock Bass on the Fly

Suggestions - Fly fishing for peacocks is very productive, but sometimes anglers enjoy a break from casting and rapidly stripping a heavy-weight fly rod. We provide complete spinning and baitcasting outfits. Anglers are welcome to switch off to this gear to give themselves a break from time to time .

How can I be sure I do it right? —  Under the right conditions, and on the right rivers, fly fishing can be the most effective of peacock bass techniques. The key consideration to ensure that your experience meets your expectations, is that proper conditions and locales are necessary for maximum success and not all regions and seasons are equal. If you wish to concentrate on the fly, you should choose fisheries with the right water types and seasonal conditions. Acute Angling operates several of the Amazon’s premiere fly fisheries.  We’ll make sure you’ve selected the best option for you and scheduled correctly. We have the resources to ensure that peacock bass will be the greatest fish you've ever experienced on the fly.

For more information see our: Peacock Bass Primer

How do I arrange a trip ?

trophy peacock bass
Jenny Reiss holds up a trophy Peacock Bass

How do I arrange a trip? - Contact us. We'll be happy to discuss your needs, concerns and goals and help you to select the Acute Angling trip that's right for you.

ONLY ACUTE ANGLING OWNS, OPERATES, OUTFITS AND ORGANIZES FOUR DIFFERENT TRIP MECHANISMS, ALLOWING US TO ACCESS THE BROADEST RANGE OF THE AMAZON’S MOST PRODUCTIVE AND EXCITING FISHERIES.

Select a trip on our luxurious floating hotel, our elegant air conditioned yacht, our comfortable floating bungalows, our rustic Multi-species variety lodge or even a remote safari style camp on our unique exploratory trips, all depending on your preferences. We provide a full range of trip types. All are focused on the same goal of consistently productive fishing. All offer the same high level of extremely comfortable accommodations with full amenities and all deliver exciting Amazon adventure. All of our trips are hosted by management or one of our highly trained, professional, bilingual, hosts. We’ll be there with you, to make sure that your experience is as pleasant, productive and satisfying as it can possibly be. For more information, contact us:

By E-mail, through this site:
Paul Reiss or, Garry Reiss
Call, Toll-free: Paul Reiss: 866 832-2987 ext. 1
or Garry Reiss: - 866 431-1668

We are pleased to be able to operate our Amazon trips in the right place at the right time. References are available upon request.

For more information see: Fishing Trip Booking and Information - a guide to available trips

How do I prepare?

Build up your muscles, these suckers are strong! Seriously though, although there is a fair amount of preparation necessary, our turn-key package will walk you through it every step of the way. Once you select your trip, you will be provided with an on-line client portal where you can complete all the pre-trip undertakings; on-line; paper-free, and with our customer service staff’s assistance, as needed. You’ll be able to contact our travel representative and make your flight arrangements directly from your portal and we’ll verify your flights to make sure they are correct. We provide an array of services and materials that will guide you through the preparations, error-free and effort-free ... Everything you need to prepare yourself for your trip, right down to how to pack your bag. Working with you, we will make sure that you arrive perfectly prepared for a trip that meets all your expectations ... the fishing trip of a lifetime.

Documentation —  You must have a currently valid passport in order to travel internationally and to enter Brazil. You can obtain your passport through the U.S. Passport agency or through ItsEasy Visa (recommended). Please note that your passport expiration date must extend more than 6 months later than your departure date. Passport holders from the U.S., Canada, the E.U., Australia and Japan require no additional travel documentation. No visa is required.

Immunizations — No immunizations are required, either by CDC or Brazil for entry (unless your passport shows that you have visited a country that has yellow fever — Brazil does not have and does not want it!). Furthermore, our fisheries are free of mosquitos and located in essentially unpopulated areas, minimizing any health concerns. However, we strongly suggest that you consult with your personal doctor regarding inoculations (and anti-malarial pills) (see "What about Tropical Diseases?"). Based on the advice you receive from these qualified sources, arrange for any doctor visits, shots or pills you decide upon. Give yourself enough time before your trip so that any immunizations you choose to get can take effect.

Personal Gear — Our pre-trip information package will include our recommended check-list. Pack light. Most anglers bring too much clothing. All of our operations provide daily laundry service, so plan accordingly. And remember, as part of our “all-inclusive” package we provide all of the conventional rods, reels, lines and lures you’ll need, on site and at no charge. A small carry-on, packed with your personal essentials, and a small, soft, rolling duffel bag (that you can handle in the airport) should hold everything you need. Travel light! All of our operations are remote and use charter airplanes to access the fisheries. They have specific baggage weight limitations. Finally, make sure you pack your phone or a good, weatherproof camera. No one is going to believe your tall tales unless you can back them up with pictures! All of this information is detailed in our client’s personal portal.

For more information see: Pre-trip Information - a comprehensive guide to trip preparation

What Fishing Tackle do I Need?

Peacock Bass Fishing Tackle
Peacock Bass Fishing Tackle

Absolutely None! - All of our Amazon operations provide high quality spinning and baitcasting rods, reels and lures for your use at no charge.  Our guides and boats are fully-equipped with the appropriate fish handling and fishing tools. Our all-inclusive trip configuration is designed to ensure that you have the best, purpose-appropriate gear in your hands. You can travel light and let us worry about any tackle concerns.

You are, of course, quite welcome to bring your own rods and reels if you prefer. If you’re a bass fisherman, you already have most of what you need. What should you bring? A good rule of thumb is that if someone who’s never been to the Amazon recommends it for peacock bass, it’s probably too heavy. Because of this fish’s legitimately well-deserved reputation, the knee-jerk reaction is that it must be fought with extra heavy gear. Not a good idea! Anglers will quickly discover that peacock bass fishing means a full day of casting lures, making fast, aggressive retrieves and fighting numerous pugnacious fish, all in tropical conditions. After cast number 100, or retrieve number 200, heavy gear will begin to take its toll on anyone.

Here is the most important guideline — Peacock bass gear should be tailored to the size of the lure thrown, not the reputation of the fish pursued. Ranging from ½ to over 2 ounces, the principle lure types demand a broad range of tackle capability. Anglers often ask, "Which is better for peacocks, spinners or baitcasters?" The answer is both. Each type can perform satisfactorily alone, but a mix is even better. Casting accuracy is important for successfully catching peacock bass in the structure they frequent. If you're comfortable and skillful with both types, you can truly tailor your tackle to your personal pattern and presentation. And, if you’re not, our guides are great teachers. Our best recommendations are as follows;

First off, if you insist on bringing your own rods, we recommend quality 3 piece pack rods such as those available from G. Loomis, Okuma, Temple Forks or St. Croix. They will fit right into your duffel bag. One piece rods require a long transport tube and are a pain in the neck to travel with on both international and charter flights. You really only need two rods to serve pretty much all purposes. With reels, quality is all-important. Bring something that will hold up under a week’s worth of abusive use. Stay as small and light as possible and select for fast retrieves.

Most necessary – Jig Rig - A Medium-Light, seven foot (or shorter), fast action spinning rod with a line rating of 6-12 pound test and a lure capacity of 1/8-3/4 ounce. Pair it with a lightweight, fast retrieve (6.4:1 or better) spinning reel (Shimano 2500 size) loaded with 30 pound test braided line (mono just won't work well here). You can cast 1/2 oz. jigs a mile and reel them in all day long. Yes, we're exceeding the rod’s line rating, but hopefully, you're letting your guide set your drag properly.

Most necessary – Chopper Rig – A Medium-Heavy, 6 and 3/4 foot (or shorter), fast action baitcasting rod coupled with a quality casting reel (Shimano Curado 200 or 300 size) with the fastest possible retrieve (7.0:1 or better). This outfit is designed to sling big surface prop baits with ease and accuracy. Use a rod with a line rating of 10 to 30 pounds and a lure capacity of ½ to 2 ounce. Load this rig with 65 pound test braided line and you're ready to probe tight cover, brush and logs with big woodchoppers or riprollers.

Optional addition - A stiff, seven foot (or shorter) medium baitcasting rod with a supple, fast action tip, a line rating of 8-17 pounds and a lure capacity of ¼ to 1 ounce is fine. Mount a lightweight, fast retrieve (7.0:1 or better) casting reel with 50 pound test braided line. This gives you a light but tough rig, perfect for fishing smaller stick baits and swimming plugs, and jigs for those anglers who aren’t comfortable with spinning gear.

A wide array of lures are effective on peacock bass (see our pre-trip information section on lures), including several very big surface lures and several fairly small sub-surface jigs and spoons. Having two rods rigged and ready to go enables you to effectively respond to fishing conditions and situations. For those who enjoy enlarging their tackle collections and simply insist on bringing their own gear, proper tackle for peacock bass fishing can be obtained on-line through www.Tackle-box.net.