Having heard not only the legend of the “River of Giants” for several years, but also firsthand angling accounts, I thought I knew what to expect on my first trip to Rio Marie in October 2017. But even as a lifelong bass fisherman, there was no way to fully prepare for this awesome destination. To put it in context, each one of the seven fishermen on the trip caught the biggest bass of his life — and four of those anglers were veterans of Brazilian peacock bass fishing. And we did it on a week with high water . . . high enough to cause grumbling from those with experience in the Amazon. I can’t even imagine what it would be like with ideal water levels!
First, lets get the numbers out of the way. The seven of us landed five peacocks over 20 lbs, including two 24 pounders. We landed fourteen other peacocks from 15-20 lbs, and another dozen from 10-15 lbs. More than half of all the Temensis we landed were over ten pounds! The 350 butterfly peacocks in the 3 lb range were almost an afterthought, even though they eat so aggressively we often thought they were Temensis. Just incredible, mind-boggling numbers . . . but the Rio Marie produces on this level week in, week out.
Will Stephens and I met in the Miami airport to begin the trip. Five hours later we landed in Manaus and were transferred to our hotel. We spent the next day exploring Manaus, a city founded in the 1600’s that sits at the “meeting of the waters” where the clear, dark Rio Negro meets the muddy Solimoes River to form the Amazon. We visited the markets, which were eye-opening with over twenty varieties of bananas by the truckload, plus mountains of pineapple and all sorts of other exotic fruits. The fish and meat market was absolutely crazy, with stacks and stacks of all different species of fish and various meats, organs, and viscera all on display by vendors busy filleting for the local shoppers.
That night we ate dinner at Amazonico, a trendy restaurant on the same block as our hotel, the Caesar Business. I love trying new dishes, and on local recommendation ordered “fish ribs” . . . which are exactly what the name implies. They are cut from a fish called the Tambaqui, and look a lot like an order of beef ribs, but with thinner rib bones (and of course white flesh). They were superb. Incidentally, both the food and wine in Manaus were less than half the price you would pay in the U.S.
The next morning we boarded the float plane for the 3 ½ hour flight to the Untamed Amazon mothership. After we left Manaus, all we saw below was green jungle cut by watercourses for the entire flight until we landed on the Rio Marie and taxied to within a stone’s throw of the mothership. We spent the rest of the day moving downriver, organizing gear, getting to know the guides and staff, and eating delicious table fare (filet mignon the first night).
Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co.