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Fishing on the Amazon River

Written by Amy Peterson.

On January 3, 2013, I left Michigan’s wintery weather with my husband, Mark, to catch peacock bass on the Amazon River. The Amazon had been on our wish list since we were kids watching Jacques Cousteau on TV, and reinforced more recently via one of many fishing shows that airs on my TV on the weekend. Arrangements were made by Classic Travel to fly from Detroit to Miami, then from Miami to Manaus, Brazil. We stayed at the Manaus Tropical motel our first night in Brazil and at 5 a.m. the next morning, we boarded a plane at the airport that had both floats and wheels.

We flew over several tributaries of the Amazon River and about two hours later, the pilot landed on the water. Several fishing guides were waiting in boats, and after they loaded our luggage onboard, we headed down-river to our floating cabins. The cabins were air conditioned and had twin beds—it was romantic indeed! They also had flush toilets and showers that dribbled water from the Amazon River onto our heads. It was perfect.

As soon as we got settled, we headed out with our guide, Prato. His job was to get us to good fishing spots, and back to the cabins around 5 p.m. We really appreciated having Prato because the tributaries to the Amazon are so twisty and windy that I’m quite certain Mark and I would have gotten lost for days. We also liked that Prato tied our lures on, fixed a blue and white spotted lure that got hit time and time again, and took all our fish off the hook. Prato also brought a cooler full of water and pop, which was needed because our camp was really close to the equator and really hot.

For the next six days we spent from 7:30 until 4:30 on the water fishing. We used jigs, surface water baits that we dragged in pulsing jerks across the water, and subsurface baits. Mark switched baits fairly often and sat most of the time; I found the most success using surface baits and stood on my feet most of the time. By the end of the week, my feet and hands were puffed up like the Pillsbury Doughboy. But it was worth it–we caught 132 peacock bass during the week, and some real strange fish, too. And well, I caught a bigger peacock than Mark, poor fella.

Peacock bass fishing was more exciting than any other fishing we’d done not only because peacock bass hit a lure really hard, but also because of the caiman, which are members of the alligator family. The caiman were attracted to the splashing of our lure and sometimes came towards the boat when a small fish was splashing around on the end of the line. It was exciting to try to reel in a fish before a caiman got to it. We also had a “camp caiman”, one that hung out down river of our cabin until the camp staff tossed it leftovers.

After fishing each day, we cooled off in an air conditioned dining cabin and enjoyed a cool beverage before dinner. Each dinner started with a bowl of tasty soup and was followed by main courses, the variety of which was surprising considering we were in the middle of nowhere. After dinner, we used our flashlights to get back to our cabins safely because resident caiman sometimes slept on the beach at night between our cabins! As far as nightlife on the Amazon? Well, usually I so tired, I wrote in my journal and waved good-night to Mark from my twin bed.

We also saw about 25 birds that were new to us, some fish-eating bats, and a nifty insect called a mole cricket that made little burrows in the sand by our cabin.

Our trip to the Amazon was an amazing experience, filled with lots of sun, lots of fish, and enough caiman to make things interesting. The guides, camp staff and other people that helped us in Brazil were exceptional, as were the other six fishermen at camp that week. Thanks Classic Travel for helping set up this awesome vacation.

For more photos and a day by day summary of this trip, go to amylpeterson.com and in the search box, type in Amazon.