PRESS     New World Record Speckled Peacock Bass Landed in Rio Marié  |  MARCH 23, 2022

On September 4, 2021, Rodrigo Moreira Salles was fly fishing the Rio Marie, Brazil, when he landed this 91-centimeter speckled peacock. With this fish, Rodrigo tied the IGFA All-Tackle Length World Record for the species. Rodrigo landed the massive peacock on a streamer after a short fight in the midday heat. Salles had originally applied for the All-Tackle Length Fly record but was using 50-lb class tippet, so his catch was entered into the All-Tackle Length category. A reminder that All-Tackle Length Fly Category allows for a maximum of 20-lb class tippet per IGFA Fly Fishing Rules.

 

PLEASE DESCRIBE THE MOMENT YOU CAUGHT IT: WHAT GEAR DID YOU USED, IN WHICH PART OF THE RIVER DID YOU CATCH IT, WITH WHAT FLY, AT WHAT TIME?

We were in our guides training week before the beginning of our season. Water levels weren’t ideal, and we decided to move upstream on the Rio Marie. We took three skiffs together and navigated the river system for about 90 minutes. As soon we arrived to one of my favorite spots upstream, we decided to fish close to each other the whole day.  A storm was rolling in that morning and the fish went on a feeding frenzy. 

They were actively feeding in the mouth of an oxbow lagoon. One skiff covered the upper part and the other, the lower portion. We arrived and immediately saw big fish moving around, big wakes and some fish on the hunt, so we mixed techniques with poppers and streamers.

In the world of peacock bass fishing, a 20-pound fish is the Holy Grail everyone hopes for, but in this case we caught four 20-pound-plus peacock bass at nearly the same time, with double hookups in two boats. The fish lengths were 82 (Andre), 82 (Charly), 84 (Pam), and 91 centimeters. I caught the 91-centimeter fish, which was recently confirmed to be the IGFA all-tackle length record.

Together, we caught 14 big fish that morning from the lagoon before a storm brought down sheets of rain.

I was using my favorite peacock bass rod, a Thomas & Thomas Exocett SS 350 paired with a Nautilus NV-G 8/9 and a Scientific Anglers Sonar Jungle Custom Tip fly line.

And in the moment, the fish were attacking almost anything thrown in their direction, but I had my lucky red/white, big millar tube head streamer tied on a 4/0 hook.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANGLERS WHO AIM BIG PEACOCK BASS ON A FLY ROD?

Persistence and consistency in the jungle is key. I have seen a lot out there and if you want to be successful for giant bass on a fly rod, giving up cannot be an option. Even in 100F degrees, 100% humidity, the next cast can bring you the holy grail. I always say that in jungle fly fishing, the difference between heaven and hell is just one cast away.

Second, be prepared and practice. This is a sport. Train your cast before your trip. For peacock bass, we cast the entire day, and precision is more important than a distant hero cast. My recommendation is mastering a 40 ft. cast with your fly hitting directly next to the target than a 70 ft. cast in the middle of nowhere, or worse yet, getting tangled in the trees. When the fly hits the water, move the fly like wounded prey and never raise your rod tip to set the hook!

Third, make sure your gear is in proper working order. Knots and leaders must be checked all the time, even small fish can wear through the leader. I have seen monster bass explore 50 lbs. fluorocarbon like 5x tippet, broken rods, and fly lines popped in the middle of the taper. The first run of a 20 lbs. peacock bass can be the most intense few minutes of your fly fishing career!

These fish always play dirty and look to go to the structure, so fight hard and try to avoid them going to the structure. If you can’t hold the fish out of the structure and they get there, do not put more pressure on the fish, because your leader will break

And when you get the fish out of any structure, fight hard, as these giant bass never give up, even when they are tired. When they get close to the skiff, they can get wild, so make sure the pressure is still on in order to land the fish as quickly as possible.

Lastly, listen to your guides. They know exactly what is going on while they are on the water with you. Different water conditions require different strategy, fly line density, size and fly patterns, strip velocity and more.

 

 

DID YOU FEEL AT THE TIME THAT IT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FISH, DID YOU IMAGINE A RECORD AT THE TIME? DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BEAT YOUR OWN RECORD?

I lost two nice fish in a row before hooking the record bass, and I had never lost two bass of such size in a row in my entire career. My hands were wet and I didn’t get the chance to set the hook properly on the first, and the second came like a torpedo right to the boat. I was really pissed off. Once I saw Andre land the first big fish on the other skiff right by us, we went to the other side of a sandbar on the oxbow lagoon mouth. I saw three fish moving there and aimed for the first one on the right side. As soon as the fly touched the water the fish looked at it and on my first strip he decided to grab the fly. It was very shallow, something like 25 inches of water. I saw the fish and the wake it made, and it was nothing short of amazing. The fish charged the fly, decided not to eat, but on my third strip, it rocketed towards the fly and devoured it. 

I set the hook several times, more than was necessary, but the fish was moving towards the skiff and I had flashbacks of the two fish I lost prior. I had to work hard to fight this fish as soon as it felt it was hooked. Once Charles netted the fish, I knew it was very large, but I never imagined a world record. After that, Pam cast to the other fish in the shallow water and got it! Charley, with a popper, landed the other. We had four monster fish landed in a matter of 5-7 minutes, and even luckier, we were with our camera crew, capturing the entire day on film.

We went to the sandbar right in front of us to measure and weigh the fish properly. 91 cm. long and 65 cm. girth, exactly 25.5 lbs - my biggest peacock bass so far! Then Martin, our head guide, mentioned that it was a potential all length, all tackle world record, and encouraged us to apply. It is the 5th IGFA world record on the Rio Marié, and considering that this fish enters the all tackle category caught on a fly, it represents a lot to the fly fishing community. 

There are still lots of anglers in Brazil that think that larger bass can only be caught on big, artificial lures. This will help demystify this idea.

 

WHAT OTHER SPECIES WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE INCLUDED IN IGFA?

Well, there are many jungle species that qualify for a world record to the IGFA, and many of them are on fly, while some fall under all tackle. Species like the payara, tambaqui, arowana and other peacock bass species like the butterfly and the Rio Xingu/Iriri Melaniae all qualify for fly tackle line classification. Others are still under all tackle, like bicuda, arapaima and some pacu species. I know IGFA is looking more and more to the Amazon Jungle for more species and line classifications for them, which is great for jungle fly fishing.

There’s a world of possibilities to put more and more records and we are excited for our anglers to look into it. It’s a new challenge and I hope fly anglers keep doing it.