Bolivia Fly Fishing

Bolivia Peacock Bass Fly Fishing FAQ's

Here are some helpful questions and answers to assist you with your Amazon peacock bass adventure.

Will I have a chance at a new Brazil peacock bass world record?

There is always the possibility that one of our anglers might catch a new world record peacock bass, payara or other species. Many tippet class records have yet to be set for payara, several peacock bass subspecies and many other exotic species.

What about insects-do I need shots?

The rivers we fish have a high tannin concentration due to the forest's leaf decay, and do not encourage the growth of insect eggs and larvae, but some bugs are occasionally encountered, mainly no-see-ums (gnats) which can be irritating, along with the occasional bee, mosquito or wasp. We suggest you contact your doctor regarding innoculations recommended for travelers to the Amazon, or log on to the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) website at Also, antibiotics and antiseptic medicines such as Neosporin are always a good idea to avoid infections from cuts and scrapes.

What technique do I use to catch peacock bass?

Like largemouth bass, peacock bass often prefer "structure" of some sort. Rocks, fallen logs, points and sand bars are hiding places for baitfish, so this is where the peacocks will usually be lurking. Of course, you should always heed the guide's recommendations on where to cast. Peacock bass usually roam about in small schools searching for baitfish, often bursting into a feeding frenzy. When this situation is encountered, get your fly in front of the feeding fish as soon as possible. The sooner you can cast to them after they've been spotted, the better your chance of a hookup. Peacock bass are greedy and highly competitive schooling fish. Always cast a different popper or fly right next to any hooked fish. Another peacock will almost always be close by (attracted by the commotion). If no strikes result, fish the surrounding area thoroughly. Novice peacock bass anglers tend to set the hook too fast when fishing poppers or flies. Often peacocks will just slap at the fly to stun it, then come back around and firmly grab it on the second pass. It's hard to remember at first, but don't set the hook on the strike. If you can't see the popper or fly after about one second, drop your rod tip and set the hook as hard as you can with your strip hand. Big peacock bass have very tough skin around their mouths and tend to grip the fly firmly.

If the fish doesn't take the fly on the first strike, keep it moving. If you are patient, the fish will usually come up and hit the fly a second or third time. If he loses interest, quickly change flies. This often elicits another strike. Never try and "horse" a big peacock bass, and don't underestimate his power. If a big fish is headed for structure, apply side pressure to the rod trying to 'steer' the fish in another direction. If you crank your drag down too tight, they'll almost always snap the leader, or pull off. If a fish does make it into cover, don't give up. Give a little slack and wait for the boat to spook the fish out of its hiding place-they'll often untangle themselves. When a fish comes to the boat, never assume it's ready to give up. Always keep a high rod tip and a loose drag to absorb last minute runs. Fly color doesn't seem as important as fly shade. If it is bright out, use a light-colored fly. Dark-colored flies are more productive in low light conditions.

What technique to I use to catch payara?

Payara are found throughout the San Simon River in the deeper water with current. Dropoff at the downstream end of islands, switchbacks in the river and high cut banks and deep runs. They usually show themselves, slightly breaking the surface of the water when they are actually feeding. You can wade and bank fish at times, other times you fish from the boat. A medium to fast-sink tip is best, depending on water levels and depth, with six feet of 30-40 pound leader tippet and braided wire leader. Use Tiger brand wire leader in 15-30 pound test. Cast your spuddler-type fly into the pool (quartering downstream casts are best) and let the fly sink. It is important to have a straight line to the fish so put your rod tip right down on the water and strip back the fly with long medium-to fast strips. When the fish strikes, set the hook with a strong jerk of your strip hand. Set the hook a couple of times, as payara have very boney mouths. When you hook a fish, it is usually airborne instantly. Barb the hook for better penetration and hookset. It is important to have very sharp hooks—laser sharpened are best. Payara fight until they are completely exhausted, so take care in reviving the fish before release.

Are timing and water levels important?

Yes, absolutely, the prime time to fish for all species is mid-July through November. The Brazilian Amazon encompasses a huge expanse of territory with literally thousands of separate watersheds. Water fluctuation varies in each watershed (and its tributaries) depending upon its proximity to the equator. The equator's convection activity changes in a dependably cyclical pattern that creates a wet and dry season.

During the wet season, the rivers overflow their banks and spread out into a tree-filled flood plain. Angling is completely unproductive at this time. When the rains subside the water levels slowly recede back into a central lagoon-filled river channel. Prime fishing occurs when the receding water forces baitfish out of the vegetation and into open water. Knowledge and careful monitoring of these water fluctuations is an essential part of angling success. Some outfitters are running operations in areas with marginal high water periods when the fish are completely inaccessible - angling results suffer tremendously.

Note: In order to maximize fishing potential throughout the season, and in accordance with varying water conditions, the rivers to be fished may change at the option of the outfitter.

What is Santa Cruz like?

Santa Cruz de la Sierra was founded in 1561 by Ñuflo de Chavez, a Spaniard who hailed from present-day Paraguay. The town originated 137 miles east of its current location, but around the end of the 16th century it moved to its present position, 31 miles east of the Cordillera Oriental foothills, after the original location proved too vulnerable to attack from local tribes.

The city’s main aim was to supply the rest of the colony with products such as rice, cotton, sugar and fruit. Its prosperity lasted until the late 1800s, when transportation routes opened up between La Paz and the Peruvian coast, making imported goods cheaper than those hauled from Santa Cruz over mule trails. During the period leading up to Bolivia’s independence in 1825, the eastern regions of the Spanish colonies were largely ignored. Although agriculture was thriving around Santa Cruz, the Spanish remained intent upon extracting every scrap of mineral wealth that could be squeezed from the rich and more hospitable highlands. In 1954 a highway linking Santa Cruz with other major centers was completed, and the city sprang back to life from its 100-year economic lull. The completion of the railway line to Brazil in the mid-1950s opened trade routes to the east, after which time tropical agriculture boomed and the city grew as prosperously as the crops. It has continued to the present day.

The city of Santa Cruz has benefited from a fast paced growing economy for the last 15 years. This has allowed for a multicultural and ethnically diverse city to develop. The population is mostly of European descent with some indigenous influence. Despite its fast growth, the city preserved much of its traditions and culture. This is particularly reflected in its typical foods.

The city of Santa Cruz and its metropolitan area are home to over 70% of the population of the province. Santa Cruz province is the wealthiest in Bolivia with huge reserves of natural gas and bountiful agricultural production in the fertile lands that stretch from the foothills of the Andes Mountains to the rivers bordering Brazil. Cash crops include soybeans, sunflowers, corn, peanuts, yucca, squash, rice, coffee, and citrus fruits. Cattle and poultry production thrive. Tourists enjoy visiting the city center, government square, zoo, cathedral, shops and kiosks featuring everything from artifacts, woodcarvings, fine textiles and gems. There are a number of good restaurants and hotels.

Have more questions?

Feel free to call, e-mail or write our office any time to discuss the trips with someone from our staff who has intimate knowledge of the program. We will be happy to go over details, provide references, and offer available dates.

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