Brazil Fly Fishing

Brazil 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. Many tippet class records have yet to be set, and the all-tackle world record came from this region just a few years ago.

What about insects?

Due to the forest's leaf decay the rivers we fish have a high tannin concentration that does not encourage the growth of insect eggs and larvae. Some bugs are occasionally encountered, mainly no-see-ums (gnats) which can be irritating, along with the occasional bee, mosquito or wasp.

Do I need shots?

We suggest you contact your doctor regarding inoculations recommended for travelers to the Amazon, or log on to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/travel. Also, antibiotics and antiseptic medicines such as Neosporin are always a good idea to avoid infections from cuts and scrapes.

Is the peacock bass related to American largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Peacock Bass (genus Chichla) is a generalized name for the large bass-like gamefish native to tropical South America. They are actually a subspecies of the family Cichlidae. Cichlids are a diverse family of tropical fishes found throughout Africa and South America, some of which are popular for aquariums. Although there are countless color variations throughout their range, there are only three recognized species of peacock bass-two in Brazil. All peacock bass species are commonly called tucunare in Brazil and Peru, while other Spanish speaking countries use the term pavon. The peacock tucanare (Cichla temensis), better known as azul or paca is the largest of the three species, with an average weight of six or seven pounds. Ten to fifteen pound peacock bass are very common, and twenty+ pounders are hooked each week. This fish has a unmistakable mottled black patch directly behind its eye. Body coloration and markings vary greatly. Three vertical black bars are usually visible. Often, horizontal white spots are present. The butterfly tucanare (Chichla ocellaris) is the smallest and most numerous species in the Amazon basin. This peacock has three different color phases, but the butterfly primarily seen has three black, oscillated spots (about the size of a half dollar) running along its lateral line. Although peacock bass are the main attraction in the Amazon, there are many other jungle species that are no less impressive-both in beauty and fighting ability.

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.

Peacock bass fly fishing double hookups are not uncommon. When one angler hooks up, keep a close eye on the fight. Other fish will chase and school around the hooked fish. Don’t hesitate to cast to the following fish in the middle of the action. You will catch many more fish using this technique. Peacock bass tend to swim together, often male and female. It is not uncommon to see a monster peacock bass following another big fish that is hooked. Casting your fly to the following fish will often result in double hookups and really enhance your peacock bass fly fishing experience.

Adult peacock bass protect their young by carrying them in their mouth, releasing the tiny fry several times a day to feed and swim. When released from the mother’s mouth, the peacock bass fry will congregate near the surface, creating a visible area of tiny bubbles slowly moving across the surface of the water. The best approach is to cast your fly past the bubbles, and retrieve it through or close to the fry/bubbles. This will sometimes produce a strike from the adult peacock bass protecting their offspring. These adult peacock bass are usually in the 12 to 15 pound plus range.

Depending on the time of year, and water conditions, you may have a chance to fly fish for peacock bass on their spawning beds. These circular beds vary in size from 18-inches across for "butterfly" peacock bass, to 6-feet across for larger, barred and paca (spotted) peacock bass. There may be several beds in the same relative area. Larger fish bed in deeper water, but the beds are visible usually because of their size. The adult peacock bass guarding the bed may be nearby off to the side of the bed. Two different peacock bass fly fishing techniques produce strikes and hookups: 1. Cast the fly across or very near the bed and strip the fly through or past the bed. 2. Let the fly sink and drag the fly slowly through or very near the edge of the bed. The adult peacock bass will often pick up the fly.

Are timing and water levels important?

Yes, absolutely, the prime time to fish for peacock bass is mid-July through December. The Brazilian Amazon encompasses a huge expanse of territory with literally thousands of separate watersheds. The equator bisects the area into two separate regions that we refer to as the "northern" and "southern" Amazon (north and west of Manaus vs. south and east of Manaus). 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 in both regions.

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 peacock bass 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. Many outfitters are running operations in areas with marginal high water periods when the fish are completely inaccessible - angling results suffer tremendously. The south of Manaus region is productive from mid-July through October, while the north fishes best from November to the end of December. We do not operate during 'fringe' periods when water levels and angling conditions are questionable.

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 Manaus like?

Manaus was founded in 1669 by the Portuguese as a small fishing village. Its name is of Indian origin and its literal translation is "Mother of God." Situated just 3 degrees below the equator and over 1000 miles inland, it is one of the busiest ports where cargo ships distribute their goods throughout the Amazon basin. With the discovery of rubber trees in the area in the 1850's, Manaus flourished for a period of about 20 years, from 1890-1910, and was known as the "Paris of the Jungle." During this time, wealthy plantation owners flocked to Manaus and a "belle epoque" splendor prevailed as evidenced by their ornate Opera House, which was built in 1892 with distinct European influence, both in style and materials.

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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