FAQ: About Amazon Fishing
What's the best season?
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 rainforest 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 long "rainy" season, Amazonian rivers can rise 10 meters or more, overflowing their banks and inundating huge areas of low-lying forest. This flooded jungle (known as 'igapó' in Brazil) offers superior forage and cover for many species of baitfish. Their predators, especially 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 when 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 as they prepare to spawn. This period is when their accessibility and 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 in the southern part of the Amazon basin in June and July. Southern rivers begin to provide good water levels in August. As the season progresses, rivers further to the north begin to drop. The dry season moves slowly north during September and early October making rivers such as the Matupiri and the Igapo Acu among the optimal destinations for peacock bass in Brazil. By late October, falling water conditions move north of the main body of the Amazon itself, optimizing fishing in southerly tributaries of the Rio Negro. Come, January, northern tributaries in the Central Rio Negro basin offer some of the best Brazilian peacock bass fishing, right on into 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. To keep it simple for the angler, 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?
Where is the best place? - In today’s world, Brazil is far and away the best choice. Politically stable and friendly to tourism, anglers can find six 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 some of the Amazon's trunk rivers, (the Madeira, the Negro and the Branco) will offer great concentrations of aggressive peacock bass.
The best locations to fish for them are typically remote from habitations and deep-water 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?
From mid-October on, falling waters make the Rio Negro basin the location of choice. A score of blackwater rivers, such as the Araca, Urubaxi, Caures and the mighty Rio Negro itself become the optimal destinations for anglers right through February and into March. This is where the biggest peacock bass on the planet are found, ranging in size up to nearly 30 pounds. The heavily tannin-stained and austere waters of this basin support less biomass, hence daily catch numbers are lower than the southern fisheries, but anglers can still realize plenty of fish each day; and of course the world-record peacock bass may very well explode on your lure on the very next cast. For more about trips in this area see "Our Trips" in the menu above.
Of the fifteen 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 a minimum temperature of 75 degrees. 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 survive outside of its native Amazonia.
Giant Amazon peacocks, called tucunaré in Brazil, can be identified by the black markings on their gill plates, absent in other species. Cichla temensis' body markings are changeable and can vary significantly even within the same population on the same river. Markings range from their brilliant spawning colors, a yellow-gold background with 3 distinct vertical bars to their non-reproductive colors, an olive-brown body with white horizontal speckles. Spawning C. temensis display brilliant blue and red fin colors. Perhaps the single most enjoyable identifier, however, is the nerve jarring crash when a giant peacock bass explodes all over your bait.
For more information see our: Peacock Bass Species Guide - a descriptive guide to the species of peacock bass.
Where are the most fish?
Some anglers are more interested in catching big numbers of fish than concerning themselves about trophy size. If constant action is your preference, we recommend ‘southern’ Brazilian fisheries like the Igapo Acu or Matupiri Rivers. These rivers can produce enormous numbers of small to medium peacocks, high numbers of fish in the teens and still hold out the promise of an occasional 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 Mura Indian reservation — Click here for info
Several northern fisheries in the Rio Branco basin can also produce good numbers of hard fighting smaller peacocks along with mid-size and trophy fish into the high teens.
What about non-anglers?
Is this a trip for non-anglers? - Not really. Although the sights and experiences of the Amazon alone are worth the trip, you really won't access them fully without spending time on the rivers and lagoons. For the most part, remaining in camp or aboard our yacht alone is quiet, and frankly, boring. If you are a non-angler planning to travel with a fishing partner, 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. You don't have to be a professional fisherman to enjoy yourself here. Even if you don't catch as many as your more experienced partner, you'll still have fun trying. Moreover, you'll be surrounded by the most awesome ecosystem in the world!
For more information see: Amazon Adventures - There's more to it than just the fishing!
What about fly-fishing?
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”.
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 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 like, also bring a floating line with a drastic weight-forward taper for poppers and sliders but be aware that big fish are more readily caught on sinking lines.
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.
Suggestions - Although we provide spinning and baitcasting rods and reels, we do not provide fly fishing gear. You must bring your own. Fly fishing for peacocks is very productive, but can be tiring if you're not used to blind casting and rapidly stripping a heavy-weight fly rod all day long. We strongly recommend that you consider switching off to baitcasting or spinning tackle from time to time to give yourself a break. We have conventional tackle readily available for your use.
Under the right conditions, and on the right rivers, fly fishing can be the most effective of peacock bass techniques. The key point to keep in mind, however, is that proper conditions and locales are necessary for success and not all regions and seasons are equal. If you wish to concentrate on the fly, you should be careful to choose fisheries with the right water types and conditions. With the right planning, peacock bass can be the greatest fish you've ever experienced on your fly rod.
For more information see our: Peacock Bass Primer
How do I arrange a trip ?
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 OPERATES FOUR DIFFERENT TRIP MECHANISMS, ACCESSING A BROAD RANGE OF THE AMAZON’S MOST PRODUCTIVE AND EXCITING FISHERIES.
You can book a trip on our luxurious 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 either by the author of this website or one of our highly trained, professional, bilingual, management hosts. We will be there with you, to make sure that your experience is as pleasant, productive and satisfying as it can possibly be. For more information about available fishing trips for peacock bass & other exotic species, contact us:
We are pleased to be able to arrange Amazon trips to 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, we will walk you through it every step of the way. Once you settle on a particular trip, you will be assigned an on-line client portal where you can complete all the required information on-line with our assistance, as needed. You’ll find that we offer an array of services and materials that will guide you through the preparations, effectively providing you with a turn–key package. Documents will be provided to prepare you for your trip and what you need to bring. You will be able to contract our travel agent from your portal to assist with your travel arrangements and your flights will be verified by us to make sure they are the correct ones for your trip. Working with you, we will make sure that you arrive with all the right gear, from lures to clothing to sunglasses and are prepared for a trip meets all your expectations for the fishing trip of a lifetime.
Documentation — There are several important things necessary in order to prepare for a trip to the Amazon. The first item is your travel documentation. You must have a currently valid passport in order to enter Brazil. You can obtain the passport through the U.S. Passport agency. Please note that your passport expiration date must be more than 6 months later than your departure date.
Immunizations — At this time, 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 — Next, far in advance of your trip, start collecting the essential gear and clothing necessary to assure your comfort on the trip (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, we provide all of the conventional rods and reels you’ll need, at no charge. A small carry-on, packed with your personal essentials, and a soft, rolling duffel bag (that you can handle in the airport) should hold everything you need. Keep in mind that all of our operations use charter airplanes to access the fisheries and they have stringent weight limitations; 33 pounds per passenger on floatplanes and 44 pounds per passenger on all other flights. 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 initial reservation pre-trip package. Finally, make sure you pack 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 initial reservation pre-trip package.
For more information see: Pre-trip Information - a comprehensive guide to trip preparation
What tackle do I need?
Frankly, just a package of lures - All of our operations provide quality rods and reels for your use at no charge and our guides are fully-equipped with the appropriate fish handling gear. 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.
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 pattern and presentation. Our best recommendations are as follows;
First off, we recommend quality 3 piece pack rods such as those available from G. Loomis, Temple Forks Outfitters or St. Croix. They will fit right into your duffel bag. One piece rods require a long transport tube and are somewhat of a pain in the neck to travel with on international and charter flights. Two rods at a minimum will serve the purpose. Three will fill just about all likely applications. With reels, quality is 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, six to seven foot, 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.
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, proper tackle for peacock bass fishing can be obtained on-line through www.Tackle-box.net.