- Location:Rio Marie - Amazon Jungle
- Target Species:Giant Peacock Bass
- Date:January 2020
Over 12 months had passed since booking this trip which would take an intrepid group of great fishing friends deep into the Amazon Rainforest. Now as I’m sat on a plane travelling to Brazil, I was, to be truthful, more than a little worried about where I was heading, fishing for a species I knew very little about and into a jungle that was (in my mind) full of potential horror stories.
The reality was in fact the complete opposite and what unfolded was an epic adventure into one of the worlds most beautiful and awe inspiring locations. Where we would hook fish whose raw power shocked us all leaving our fingers burning and our hearts pumping and longing to return.
As we flew out of Manaus over the vast Amazon river towards Rio Marie and the rainforest stretches out around you for the first time you start to get a sense of the immense scale and beauty of this part of the world. It’s so vast it’s almost impossible to describe.
Home for the week was onboard the Untamed Amazon, a state-of-the-art yacht built-in 2015 specifically for the Rio Marié fishing operation. The vessel is three stories tall, 92 feet long, 26 feet wide, and weighs 130 tons. However, it drafts only 4 feet, allowing it to move great distances within the river system, so that anglers fish new water each day and fishing pressure stays at a bare minimum. But the Untamed Amazon is much more than a superbly functional base of operations to fish the Rio Marié. It is equipped with sophisticated amenities worthy of any fishing operation. Such a high level of comfort and style in the heart of the Amazon is simply amazing.
After a delicious meal on the first evening and being introduced to the staff we were soon, with the guides help, threading rods up and choosing flies.
The briefing from head guide Everton was very detailed and gave us chance to ask any questions we might have. Everton left us under no illusions that the wet season had started early in the Amazon. The river was five meters up, still running clear but it had flooded the margins pushing the fish into the flooded jungle. The fishing would be affected by this but he stressed that if we stuck at it and fished hard we would have our chances at a big Peacock and he was right!
I had one big question for Everton that had been burning a hole deep inside my head for months. “But what about the bugs and the snakes and the Caimen! Surely we will be eaten alive, melt our glasses and fly lines with gallons of DEET.” Everton smiled and explained what we had read in the trip notes but didn’t really believe. Due to the high levels of tannins in the river, there are casually very few biting insects!! So few that I never put bug juice on all week! That was a huge surprise to me.
I think many of us think that the jungle will eat you alive and envisage a very hostile environment but that simply was not true, certainly at Rio Marie. Don’t get me wrong you would not want to wander very far into the jungle and start flipping logs over and routing around in the jungle floor. But at the lodge and on the water for the whole week, we were biting insect-free. Just the friendly bees to keep us company.
After very little sleep due to excitement and after breakfast, we were in the skiffs and were zipping across the water approaching our first location at the mouth of a creek running into the main river. Rods were shipped from the side of the boat and the casting commenced. Ten minutes in, my fishing partner rose a good fish at the boat which was a good sign.
Out of nowhere, I had a very hard take then nothing. We held the skiff on the electric motor and covered the area again. A few casts later the fly was hammered and I mean hammered. In a split second and before I had time to react the line was burning my fingers through the stripping guards, I reacted to the burning by letting go of the loose line. I couldn’t help it.
The loose line slammed tight against reel and the rod arched over into an alarming bend. With the reel on full drag and still not having a clue what was happening the fish tore off towards the bank. Powerless to stop this creature I just held on. Snags were fortunately avoided and the boat was skilfully manoeuvred out into open water, where eventually a beautiful 20 lb Peacock was landed.
Heading back to the mothership in the evening we all swapped stories, as we did for a further five days, about the fishing and amazing wildlife whilst we enjoyed a delicious meal and drank a cold beer on the deck. Epic battles fought some won and many lost. One thing had become clear whether it was the beautiful Butterfly bass or their big cousins the Temensis these fish all fought incredibly hard.
The wildlife was amazing with dolphins following the skiffs, monkeys in trees above us one day while we were having lunch, parrots, toucans, eagles, vultures and so much more.
Now the fishing, without a doubt was the best thing I’ve ever done with a fly rod, these bass pull harder than anything I’ve ever hooked it’s like fighting a freight train and the surface popper action is mind-blowing. This is one place all fly fishers need to experience. Two guides in each skiff, a skilled flyfishing guide and hugely knowledgeable indigenous guide working to unlock the best of the fishing.
Crucial as there is 700 miles of fishing. More 20+ pound peacock bass are landed in a typical week on the Rio Marié than in an entire season at most other Amazonian fisheries. While not everyone joins the exclusive “20 Pounder Club,” over half of the anglers visiting Rio Marié in its first few seasons have done so. In 2016, the Rio Marié produced the current world record peacock bass on a fly rod — 28.5 lbs.
Rio Marié also boasts ridiculous numbers of butterfly peacock bass in the 3-7 lb range. Pound-for-pound, butterfly peacocks are every bit as strong and aggressive as their larger cousins and can bend a 9ft #9 rod double. They are tons of fun and provide lots of action to break up the search for monsters.
We had an incredible adventure, no question. We are going back again in 2021. The Amazon rainforest and the fish we targeted made a huge impression on us all. We want to experience Rio Marie when the water is at a normal level when the sand bars are exposed and large fish cruise the margins.
I am already looking at the impressive stable of lodges that Untamed Angling operate across Brazil and Bolivia. Now I’ve seen Rio Marie I know that at some point I’ll be stalking large Dorado in the crystal water at Tsimane in Bolivia. Battle the 300 plus Arapaima at Pirarucu. Experience the species-rich waters of Kendjam and the new lodge Xingu for the big toothy Payara. Whilst marvelling at this precious environment and the indigenous people who live here.
The world of destination fishing is full of adventures. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many of them. Deep in the Amazon jungle, I’ve found a whole new frontier that will keep me going back year after year. You will never regret a trip with Untamed Angling there is nothing like it.