FALL 2016 BRAZIL PEACOCK BASS UPDATE
[Editor: this article first appeared on www.ronsfishingblog and may only be used by permission of Ron Speed Jr.]
GIANT PEACOCK BASS EXPLOSION…AND LOTS OF THEM!!!I can’t begin to tell you how incredible the fishing has been to the start of this season in Brazil! I returned two weeks ago from exploring new areas in the Amazon for future fishing as well as an additional week to fish the tributaries we normally fish in the fall. I’ve told you many times in past updates about how great AND CONSISTENT the fishing is in the fall…and particularly the areas we focus for fishing. This fall season backs this as many of the customers that just returned will support this claim.
On September 9th, I took a group of longtime RSJA customers and peacock bass anglers to explore new water for a week. I’ll get to that later in this update but let’s skip on to the following week where we fished the same tributaries we normally do each fall. As we moved into these two tributaries from the other tributaries we explored, we all believed we were in for some great fishing as the water level could not have been more perfect for great fishing. At least in one of them it was perfect. The other we hadn’t reached yet but would withing 24 – 48 hours later. On the first day, we would “sample” the first tributary. A tributary known more for a lot of 15 – 20 pound peacocks…some over 20 lbs from time to time. However the “other” tributary that flows into the main one, is known more for the incredible number of 20+ pound peacocks. Our operations manager “Cley” had already done his job by gaining hard evidence/information on the water level in both tributaries. Cley informed me and the group that it would be best to start in the main tributary with the water being perfect there and give it a couple of days on the other one (that produces lots of giant peacocks) as it was still about 1′ – 2′ on the high side. Turns out Mr. Cley was spot on! During the first two days, we fished the main tributary and landed peacocks up to 19 lbs, with numerous from 14 – 16 lbs. Charles Spivak, a longtime customer of RSJA, was making his first fishing trip to this particular region of the Amazon, landed the 19 pounder on his FIRST CAST of the first morning! He was already a believer in these two tributaries but he had no idea what was yet to come.After Day 2 fishing, the Otter navigated most of the night way up the other river. The water had dropped the necessary 2′ and we were anxious to get out and start ripping those big topwater lures the next morning. On this day, I would be fishing with my good friend, Rob Carter, owner of Fishin’ World in Dallas. Rob was making his second trip to the Amazon with RSJA since last January. On this morning, Rob would land his biggest peacock (thus far), a nice 14 pounder! After the first half day of fishing on Day 3, we all met back on the Otter at noon for lunch. The numbers were coming in and they were impressive! Numerous peacocks from 15 – 17 lbs in the first morning of fishing this river! Still looking for those 20 pounders though and therefore I instructed Cley to keep the Otter moving upstream. That afternoon was about the same as the morning…more peacocks landed from 14 – 18 lbs. Then came the next day…Day #4…and boy did we hit the Mother Load! On this day, I would be fishing with my good friend, James Bendele. James owns Falcon Tackle on Lake Falcon. I’m sure many of you either recognize the name or already know James. He’s a great fisherman and quite a character…meaning funny as they come! This was James’ first ever trip to the Amazon and doing battle with the peacock bass. He had already landed several a 14 pounder and several 13 pounders in the first few days. I told him on this day, we’re going to break that 14 pound best…it’s graduation time, James! Around 10 am, our guide, Aroldo (Harold), took us to a lake off the tributary. The water appeared to be perfect level and the giant isolated trees in approximately 5 – 6′ of water immediately caught my attention. I could see a giant peacock on every tree…in my mind of course. We started fishing out on the point and immediately had blasts and big fish boiling the water behind our lures. Just couldn’t get them to go ahead and commit. We continued fishing the big trees around the backside of the point. Sweat pouring off both of us as we thrashed the water’s surface vigorously with those big “choppers”…chop, chop, chop, chop! Then it happened….James threw his big topwater chopper to the left side of this big tree and BOOM! A massive explosion! Not sure how big this fish is but it’s definitely not small….not with that much water moved from the blast! James did everything right…just hold on with a tight drag, let the fish wear down. The fish peeled off 10 – 20′ of line on the initial run…then as it got close to the boat, decided to make one final effort to free itself from the big hooks that were buried in the side of it’s head. Finally after two incredible runs and several minutes of battle, the fish mailed it in and our guide Harold landed it. I could tell the fish was north of 15 lbs but probably not 20 lbs. Sure enough, it was a beautiful 16 pounder! That erased James’ best of 14 lbs from the previous day…but that 16 pound best was definitely in jeopardy. That afternoon, Harold decided to take James and me to a different lake. A lake that would turn out to be the best of the week. As we entered the lake to start our afternoon of fishing, we noticed two HUGE storms that appeared to be heading our way. We continued slowly idling into this lake as Harold assured us the storm was heading a different direction. James and I both had our doubts but after the fact, Harold turned out to be correct. He stopped the boat close to a very “fishy” looking flat and point. No standing trees but lots and lots of big stumps…with a creek running right down one side of it. After about 20 minutes of “chopping” with no strike, Harold used the trolling motor to take us to the backside of the flat/point…first cast from James drew a thunderous explosion…but no hookup. We kept throwing the big topwaters in the area of the explosion…maybe 25 cast or more (?)…I don’t know but it was many. Just as we decided to give up on that fish, James made one final cast to the area and KABOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Like a grenade going off just under the water’s surface. This time he was hooked up. The giant started screaming his drag as the line raced off his reel. James thumbing the spool as best he could to slow the fish down. Then all of a sudden…the fish was gone! No broken line, no straightened hook….just gone….came unhooked. That’s not the first time I’ve seen such as it happens often when these big elusive peacocks decided to do a quick 180 degree turn. They throw slack in the line and the flesh where the hook is buried becomes “wallered out” from the hard pulling of the fish…and the hook just comes out. I believe that’s what happened here. Harold believed the giant was well over 20 lbs. Of course. 😉 After a few minutes of sighs and “gosh darnits” , we began casting again. It wasn’t 2 minutes later, another giant jumped on James’ big topwater. Another hookup! Within 5 seconds of getting hooked up…gone! It was like someone hit the repeat button. This monster did a 180 and ….gone! James screamed out, “WHAT DOES A MAN HAVE TO DO TO LAND ONE OF THOSE 20 POUND MONSTERS???” I told him, “Just keep fishing, brother. We’ve all been there, done that…just keep fishing”….well, we kept fishing, back around the point to where we started. Then yours truly got his chance to play in the game….KABOOOOOOOOM! This was a giant…I felt every ounce of this beast as it peeled off about 20′ of line from my reel. Then….oh no….not again? Yep, did a 180 degree turn, threw slack in the line and….GONE! What the heck? It’s like all of these fish on this one point had been to the “How To Get Rid Of 4.0 Saltwater Hooks” school!!! Well, Harold…hahaha, poor Harold, wanting that extra tip for 20 pound peacocks, had done his job and put us on THREE of them! After that third giant was lost, he said, “Time to go to Otter and have a drink”…LOL. We still had a couple of hours to fish…and that’s what we were going to do. We moved off that point after an hour since the last fish was lost and didn’t experience anymore strikes. We only moved about 500 yards and came up on one of our other boats/customers. Charles Spivak and Lewis Cunningham. Charles had landed a 19 pound giant the first morning of the trip. Well, that got erased from his biggest of the trip on this afternoon. Both Charles and Lewis looked as though they had just ran a 10 mile marathon! I immediately asked, “How’s your fishing this afternoon?” Lewis spoke up, “Charles got a 25 pounder and I just caught a 21 pounder!” ….yep, this lake was loaded with the bigguns! Charles’ 25 lbs giant took him deep into the bushes and his guide Amaral crashed the boat into the bushes and went in to get the monster! That 25 pounder would end up being the largest caught during the week but those two 20’s would not be the only peacocks landed over 20 lbs. My longtime friend and customer of 29 years, John Billy Koonsman, would land a beautiful 23 pounder…his biggest peacock ever. That saying something too because John Billy fishes with us in the Amazon about 4 weeks per year on average and he has numerous peacocks over 20 lbs on his resume. Rob of Fishin’ World also erased his 14 pounder that afternoon with a 16 pound beauty. So now we’re up to 3 over 20 lbs and numerous between 15 – 19 lbs. Think we’ll keep moving the boat upstream? I think NOT. The next morning, James Bendele erased his 16 pounder with a one of 17 lbs. However, that afternoon, that 17 pounder was erased when James landed what he came for…yep, a 20 lbs beast! James making his first ever trip to the Amazon for peacock bass and he lands a 20 pound prize! Needless to say James (and a few of us) “celebrated” that night on the lounge deck of the Otter. 🙂 The rest of the trip would produce another 20 pounder by Lewis Cunningham…his second of the trip. Rob of Fishin’ World landed his biggest ever…a beautiful 18 lbs monster!
This group would finish the trip with 882 total peacocks landed….78 over 10 lbs….16 over 15 lbs…and 5 over 20 lbs! That’s a great trip by any standards! All were very happy and of course dying to return. Most have already set up their return trip for next Fall. However, THE BEST, for September, was yet to come. The NEXT GROUP!
NEXT GROUP…who we met in the lobby of the Wyndham Hotel in Manaus and filled them in on our great fishing numbers, obviously wasn’t to be outdone. They went back to the same tributary we had just fished and here are their numbers with 10 anglers…
* 787 total peacock bass landed
* 92 peacock bass landed over 10 lbs
* 46 peacock bass landed over 15 lbs
* 11 peacock bass landed over 20 lbs
That’s just insane! However, it’s not the first or second or third time we’ve experienced numbers like that in this area. Once again, I will say it….the water level is the # 1 key to great (or poor) fishing for peacock bass in the Amazon. First you have to be fishing water that has the big peacocks…and this is why we have fished this area in the fall every year for the past 23 years! It continues to produce! Then if you have the peacocks, you hope for good water level. This area we fish is consistent with having falling water in Sept/Oct. It may start out high (and may not?) in September, but it’s always falling. It has every Sept/Oct since we started fishing it in 1993.
Back to the water level being #1…this is FACT! Anyone who has fished the Amazon more than once or twice will tell you. This is why the being mobile with a houseboat is important…so you don’t get locked in to fishing just one area…such as with lodges, outpost camps and other fixed base operations. We’ve been offering sportfishing for peacock bass in the Amazon longer than anyone! Nobody knows this fish and fishing the Amazon better than we do. Otherwise we wouldn’t have lasted this long in this very competitive business. We believe we have one of the nicest and most luxurious houseboats in the Amazon with the Otter. We believe we have as good of fishing boats as there is in the Amazon…Triton All Welded Bass Boats, equipped with new 60 HP Yamaha 4-stroke engines and new Motorguide trolling motors. We also believe we have the very best team of fishing guides in the Amazon…because I can tell you no other team of guides has more years of experience than our guides…because again, nobody has done this longer that we have done it. This is so important as it’s not just for the importance of fishing/catching of peacock bass…but MORE importantly because of safety. For us, safety is # 1 priority and everything else is a distant second. Last, we have what I believe to be the very best staff on the Otter…from the cook to housekeeping, boat captain and last but certainly not least….our manager, CLEY! He’s fluent in English, been a manager for years from fishing to nature tours and everyone loves Cley. Cley is willing to move the Otter when fishing dictates to move it and not let additional costs play a factor in his decision. He puts YOU, the CUSTOMER FIRST! He’s just….well…really, really awesome! We are very fortunate to have him and our customers that have been coming the past two years agree as we continue to receive great compliments about Mr. Cley.
CHANGES/UPGRADES FOR THE OTTER AND FUTURE EXPLORATORY TRIPS BEING SCHEDULED!!!!
Starting next fall, we will no longer take the bus to meet the Otter but rather resume flying to that region. For 17 years we flew to a small town located on the main river we fish during the fall season. Then the DAC in Manaus shutdown that airstrip and thus we were forced to use a luxury tour bus to meet up with the Otter. That particular airstrip is still shutdown but now we have a new locations with airstrip in that region that we will fly to starting next Fall. This should be received as great news by our customers as many of you have asked numerous times if we will ever fly to this fall river again? Barring any unforeseen “hiccups”, we will start flying again. To me this is just part of the great adventure this trip offers. Being able to fly over the mystic Amazon Rain Forest and also the famed “Meeting of The Waters” as you leave Manaus. This is where the dark, almost black waters of the Rio Negro meet the chocolate muddy waters of the Rio Solimoes to form the mighty Amazon River. There is a defined line separating the two waters/rivers that extends for approximately 3.5 miles. There are many day tours out of Manaus that can take you there by boat but getting an aerial view is THE BEST way to see this great phenomenon and take memorable photos.Another change for next season…we will be offering satellite television on the Otter on future trips. Many of you, like myself, love your college and NFL football games. I have met with my partner in Brazil and he has agreed to add the best sports package available with the satellite tv service. Of course there will not be any guarantee that the package will provide the network carrying your favorite team’s game….but I will tell you that this package will include ESPN, FoxSports and FoxSports 1. Now you can come during the fall football season and have a good chance of not missing your team play.
This fall we started back having a Beach BBQ for one night during your fishing week. I offered this in years past and most loved it. The crew will cook various cuts of meat, from sausage, beef strips, chicken, etc, over a big hot bed of coals. Tables and chairs set up on a beautiful white sandy beach with a magnificent view of that last minutes of sunset over the Rain Forest. Also, for those diehard anglers that would like to take extra gasoline and stay out all day but do a fish shore lunch, that will be offered as well. This was quite a treat the first time I experienced it in the early years. Watching these guides construct a homemade grill from wood and cook the smaller peacocks on this grill…well, it’s quite amazing to say the least. This just adds a little more adventure to what is already HIGH ADVENTURE.
Finally…the exploratory trips. Earlier this year I sent out an update stating we were going to explore new water this September. Well, we did explore one tributary that hasn’t been fished in over 8 years. While we were unable to prove good fishing in this tributary during early September, we’re still convinced the fish are there and we’ll head back to it next fall. However, while there, we did learn some VERY VALUABLE information regarding another tributary that is supposedly loaded with peacock bass and BIG PEACOCKS as well. As the local telling me said, “Many peacocks over 10 kilos”…well, even with my Aggie Math, that’s well over 20 lbs! Yeah, that’ll work!!! Sooooooooooo….guess what we’re doing next fall when the water gets “right” in this supposedly great secret honey hole? You guessed right if you said going to fish it. All the guys that were part of this September exploratory trip are already in on this one for next year. So I will open some weeks/space up for 2 or 3 more trips to this place. As you can probably imagine, I have heard numerous stories about secret honey holes holding lots of big fish in my 30 years in this business. Most are just that…stories. However, this particular story got my attention in a big big way. Why? Because the guy telling me this works for our operation and he has a brother that is currently fishing this secret place. Knowing our employee for as long as I have, I know he would not share this information with me if there wasn’t some truth to it. Anyway, we’re going…Good Lord willing and the creek doesn’t rise. Well, the river may rise but by golly we’re going! This is not a one time thing either. Even if we prove the great fishing to be true, it is my plan to explore as many as 2 or 3 new tributaries each year. There is still a lot of untapped water in the Amazon that no other operations are fishing. We are not about to run off and leave our waters that continue to produce but rather add more trips each year to NEW water for those that simply want…..new water.
BIG FISH CONTEST AND OTHER INCENTIVES OFFERED BY RSJA!!!
Some of you already know that we offer big fish contests to our customers. We now offer a return trip, free fishing package to whoever lands the biggest peacock bass in the Fall Season (Sept/Oct) as well as a free trip to whoever lands the biggest peacock bass caught in the Winter Season (Jan – Mar). At the time of this writing, Charles Spivak’s 25 pound monster is leading the Fall contest. We’ve had 2 over 24 lbs landed since Charles returned home. Keep biting those fingernails, Charles!
We offer GROUP DISCOUNTS as well. The Otter houseboat accommodates a maximum of 16 guests. In the past we offered 1 free package for booking a group of 10 paying guests or 2 free packages for booking 14 paying guests. Now you can earn 1 free fishing package for booking 8 paying guests! You can take and use this free package for yourself OR divide among group to lower everyone in the group’s cost.There you have it folks. Once again the fall season lives up to it’s billing. No, not “all” trips are fantastic or produce the numbers of these I mentioned. However, this area we fish in the Fall is so consistently good, that we rarely have what are known as “wash outs”…and if you’ve been to the Amazon more than a few times, you know what a wash out is and they’re NO FUN. Usually wash outs are when the water is very high and on the rise. Thus making it extremely difficult to find the peacocks or get them to strike. This is why I have stated many times that fixed base facilities such as lodges, camps, etc, are very risky as those are limited to a certain distance for fishing around that lodge or camp. If the water were to rise and become too high or conducive for good fishing, then one or two things will happen and neither are favorable….1) The angler just has to stick it out and hope for the best….or 2) Make very long rides to better water level that “may” produce good fishing. That’s “IF” there is better water level within reach of said fixed base facility. Folks, the houseboats are THE BEST way to avoid washouts…and even then they don’t guarantee it won’t happen….but they give the angler the best opportunity to avoid them…and of course put you in good fishing areas with good water level. Our operation has been doing this longer than any other current operation in the Amazon. Our crew’s knowledge and experience is why we’re still there and providing our customers with consistently good fishing experiences. Come see for yourself as I know you will not be disappointed!
Call us today:800-722-0006
RON SPEED, JR.