Brazil's Rio Preto
by Larry Larsen
My rod tip was instantaneously jerked to the water's surface before I could set the hook. I hung on as the fish blasted off toward the brush on the near point and pulled drag on four
occasions. Appling all the pressure that I could, I kept the fish out of the flooded timber as it continued its run toward the sandbar. The giant peacock bass turned in the shallow water
and headed back toward the pocket. It then plowed through the surface twice and all three of us got very excited. The fish was a monster.
My guide, Edmilson opened his palm and pushed it a couple of times motioning me to take it
easy in the continuing battle. I eased off a bit and slowly worked the fish to the boat. Three bursts away
and my turned response again had the super-strong peacock ready to grab. My guide got the BogaGrip into its mouth and held it up for us to
admire. The 18-pound 3-bar peacock posed for a few photos before we released it back to it lair. That fish, our largest of the day, made my day.
That sunny morning's fishing for big peacock had been slow for me. Slightly frustrated, I had just changed to a large topwater
plug and began heaving it toward the likely big fish spots: points, cuts, and sandbars in lagoons. Edmilson had moved our boat into this likely looking lagoon off the Rio Preto just minutes
The immediate area was a "classic" big fish spot. A sandbar on the upstream side acted as a partial barrier between the quiet
lagoon waters and the currents of the blackwater river. I had prospected the beach area inside the cut with my lure which generated no response. About 25 feet off the bar was a large,
30-foot deep "pocket" that tucked into the flooded forest. And that's where my big fish was waiting.
The day had started off on a positive note for my fishing partner, Don Cutter, owner of Amazon Fishing Adventures. The outfitter had taken a beautiful 13-pounder on a Yozuri hard
-plastic jerkbait early that morning. Big fish don't generally hit before about 8 am but this one wanted to be an exception. It wasn't even 7 o'clock when the big peacock stretched Don's line.
It was almost 9 am when the next big fish struck. Don and I had thrown our plugs to a small packet midway back in a lagoon four or five times when the fish hit my partner's minnow
plug. He set the hook and hung on to the big fish as it charged from one side of the pocket to the other. It turned and left a big boil as it tried to head into brush on one side. Don
snubbed it short.
I cast my yellow jig to the back of the pocket, as Don gained some line and worked his fish
closer to the boat. I swam my jig about 10 feet before it was nailed by another big fish. Both fish were now tearing up that small section of the lagoon.
"Duplo!" our guide noted of the double hook-up as he continued to move the boat away from the pocket with the Minn-Kota electric motor. Don got his fish to the boat first and
Edmilson put the
BogaGrip on its lower jaw. He then looked at me as I told him my fish was ready to be landed.
"No outro Boga," he said.
I motioned for our guide to grab my fish with his hand, and he quickly handed his Boga-captured fish to Don so that he could attend to mine. The energetic peacock turned away from my
guide's hand and kicked his broad tail trying to head into the depths. With a face full of water, Edmilson sputtered something in Portuguese and leaned back over
to continue his task. I brought the fish back again to the gunwale and he deftly stuck his thumb into its mouth.
A nice double, the Don's and my fish weighed 14 and 13 pounds, respectively. It was the largest "double" that any of our group caught that week.
Other than that, it was "all Don" that morning. He took another 13 pounder before we pulled into a shady spot against the bank to rest and take lunch. The
aft4ernoon on the other hand, turned my way. About 15 minutes after the giant 18 pounder described above was caught and released, "lightning" hit a second time.
I had made a long cast to some flooded trees far back in the same lagoon and started my retrieve.
Chuup, pause, chuup, pause, chuup, BOOM. The big fish slammed my plug and knocked it into the air. It landed and I kept it moving. Three jerks later I had finally achieved the right
cadence again when the fish again exploded on the Woodchopper. The big lure was sucked under but popped right back to the surface in the middle of the waning boil.
"Darn, missed again," I said as I tried to quickly get the lure back into the proper cadence and continue the retrieve. "Must be a blind …"
A third blast was successful as the monster got it just 20 feet from the boat and rocketed off toward the submerged timber pulling line for another 30 feet before slowing down and
turning. He swam in
and out of a couple of the inundated trees and fortunately, the remainder of my battle was on my terms in more open
water. Edmilson placed the gripper on the fish, weighed it and relieved it of the wooded plug.
The 16-pounder was the second largest of the day and in fact, my second largest for the week. It was a beautiful fish for which I again got my camera out to
record the event. It swam off strong to fight again.
Don and I finished the excellent day with 15 peacock bass, of which 8 were over 10 pounds. The same day, every one of the other 9 anglers aboard Don's Amazon
Cutter operation did very well. They caught 22 other 10-pound plus peacocks. On the following relatively slow day, Don caught a 16- and a 13-pounder before we
broke for lunch on the Cutter floating boatel. Those were our only big fish of the day.
Don gets plenty of experience on those waters. He also has to manage the operation which takes time away from his love, fishing for peacock bass.
I spent most of the days with avid peacock chaser, Jack Goldsmith of Lebanon, TN. He is a very knowledgeable angler and has spent several weeks in the Amazon. On his previous trip,
he related to me that he had some 47 peacock over 10 pounds. On this neither he nor I were as productive.
He and I each caught about 45 peacock bass including 9 or 10 fish over 10 pounds. We had a slow day upon our arrival and good numbers the following day. On day five, Jack and I
caught even more, 25 in fact. Four of my 10-pound plus peacocks came on a Yozuri plug including our exciting highlight.
I had tossed the minnow bait into the middle of a 30-foot long cut between a lagoon the river mouth we were moving toward. As the lure made its way down
the cut beside the flooded brush on one side, my arms were jolted by a powerful strike. The fish headed right into the entanglements and buried himself. I couldn't move the fish but felt its
occasional surge in the 8 feet of brush-filled water.
My guide, Jo Jo peeled off his shirt and pants and dove in to try to find the hooked fish. He bobbed to the surface a couple of times and headed back down
just as steady pressure brought the peacock out of the flooded brush. The situation was dangerous when my guide popped back up but I quickly moved the fish several feet away. Jo Jo quickly
jumped back into the boat, grabbed the BogaGrip and locked the jaws of my big peacock. It weighed 15 pounds and was the big fish of the day.
The group caught a total of 761 peacock bass over 6 1/2 days of fishing, and 123 were over
11 pounds. The 31-year old first timer Josh Johnson of Stokie IL caught the largest fish, a 23 pounder, and was the only one to have two over 20 pounds.
For more information on peacock bass, visit the great website at www