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20+ Pound Giant Peacock Bass — Welcome to the Club!

florian giant peacock bass

(Text Florian Kaiser; Pics Florian Kaiser and Breno Ballesteros Rezende)

Florian Kaiser and Breno Ballesteros spend a unique week jungle angling Rio Marié in the Amazon Basin of Brazil with Untamed Angling during the 2016/ 2017 season. We will be featuring Florian’s travelogue of his angling ventures in a seven-part travel journal. This is part three.

fly fishing for peacock basscasting to peacock bass

Third day we were assigned to Paulo the head guide of the team (2016 season). All of us headed up the main river Rio Marié, Untamed Amazon would follow us during the day. Thus all of us had fresh water to cover. What did we do? Fishing! Casting, casting, casting, …

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To shorten the day a little: Once of a sudden close to noon I had a strong pull on my line. I was always wondering how it would be to be connected to one of those really big GPBs. I was expecting not to be able to stop such a +20lbs Asu/ GPB as the much smaller Butterfly Bass were so strong. Now I was attached to a good fish on my line (a 300 grain sink tip), it was strong but far from unstoppable, it was not such a freight train I would have expected. Still those fish are strong and can explode in bursts accelerated by their big and powerful fins.

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On 60lbs tippet and a 9# rod you can pretty much hold the fish on a short line, it might do several darts but a long run far in your backing is not the norm. After a few hard but kind of short pulls that fish was safely landed. Compared to the normal behavior of a fish of that size I must have caught it in its siesta.

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Weighting on IGFA approved scales showed 23lbs and 84cm. Yahoo! I was in the +20lbs Giant Peacock Bass Club, the community most of the serious GPB-fishermen seek to be part of. Did it make a difference? At that very moment yes. To illustrate the quality of Marié and the chance to catch a +20lb GPB: this very day two other GPBs beyond that magical mark were caught. The largest was 24lbs.

florian monster peacock bass peacock bass gear

What kind of flies did we use? Barbless, strictly barbless, as only barbless fish count and as barbless is the way to treat the fish in the best possible way. Assuming that you are a good fisherman, the likelihood to lose a decent fish due to barbless is very low.

Again, what kind of flies did we use? Pretty much anything that can be tied. Mostly we fished deceiver stile flies with sinking line (WF-8/9 300-350 Grain due to the rather high water, later in the season intermediate tip might be the appropriate). Flies in yellow, green, orange and even white/blue with some flash might do the job. We have not had much action on surface flies as water level was rather high in our last week of September 2016. I tied a lot of flies and some big poppers before the trip and only used the poppers very little. Later in the season popper and poledancer are said to be the way to go. Some say a rattle is a must, but I did not observe a clear difference –  as always the fisherman has to trust its fly. We lost very few flies, less than three to five per week. As long as your line, connection and leader are 100% good there is only the chance to lose a fly to one of the odd Piranhas or on a snack that cannot be retrieved. In case you need some, the lodge has some flies as backup to buy.

Besides the once in a while Giant Peacock Bass – that was introduced to us by Paulo on the first evening with this comment “you will have zero to two chances a day to catch a Giant Peacock Bass” (he was right with that) – you and your fishing partner in the boat might catch anything between zero and fifty Butterfly Bass during a day. These fish in the range of 2-7 lbs fight the best pound by pound of all the fish in the river. They will keep you motivated and make your fingers wet once in a while. If your fishing buddy catches one of these, cast close to that spot as you might catch another Butterfly or even a GPB, as they tend to follow the action. Besides fighting well the Butterflies look really awesome. Nice colors! Once in a while you might tangle with a Piranha. As you fish without a wire leader, those Piranhas most likely will chew your fly off. Thus avoid them or catch them for lunch.

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But don’t be afraid of the Piranhas during your lunchtime bath. They don’t like old meat.

During times you might be faced with a lot of bees and bumblebees. Those are not aggressive but can be annoying. Take care and bring your medicine in case you might have an allergy (as I do) and just stay calm even if there are +20 around you. Just relocate with your fishing skiff to avoid them.

bees bees and butterfly butterfly

Weather during the days was slightly different every day. Sometimes we got just a short spell, sometimes a thunderstorm in the afternoon, some days just heat and melting in the sun. It is obvious to cover your skin by appropriate clothes and to use sun blocker for face, hands and in case you fish barefoot (which is the best way) a heavy layer of sunscreen on your feet. Stripping guards (take backup! I offer made to measure stripping guards. In case you need some, contact me) or gloves are mandatory! The constant stripping and the fight will cut and shred your fingers in no time.

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In case you handle limes for alcoholic drinks (better stay to lots of water and soft drinks during the day!) or the once in a while fish barbecue, take very good care not to spill any lime juice drops on your skin and clean possible areas after lunch thoroughly with water. Otherwise you will experience what lime juice and sun can do: it will just burn your skin to stage 2 or even 3 injuries!

Stay tuned! More action with a real surprise to come …

If you are interested in a trip to Rio Marié for Giant Peacock Bass contact me or Untamed Angling

Florian, fly fishing since twenty five years in the northern and southern hemisphere in fresh- and saltwater for many species. Enjoying outdoor sports, mountain biking, photography and good wine. Fly fishing is only one of his hobbies, but the one he kind of loves most. Florian is European Ambassador of Thomas & Thomas, Pro Staff of World Fly Angler (leading distributor of fly tackle and top line brands in Europe) and of Marlo Reels from Hamburg/ Germany.