Creature of the Rio Negro

An Amazing Angling Adventure
By Scott Swanson - Quest Global Angling Adventures
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So, you're headed out for a week of fishing. The legendary Peacock Bass. Adventure in the Brazilian Amazon. Your die-hard fishing pals are green with envy. Everyone else is asking about your next of kin.

You fly Varig overnight from Miami to Manaus. Your group breezes through customs. At 3 a.m., everyone's pretty much brain dead.

Phil Marsteller, the Amazon Queen's hands-on owner, welcomes you to Brazil. He sends you stumbling in the general direction of your air-conditioned cabin. Get some rest while the boat begins its 200-mile journey upriver.

Soon you enter the Rio Negro. It's too dark to see the inky slick where this blackwater river meets the Amazon. The only real town en route is Barcelos, tropical aquarium fish capital of the world. The droning engine lulls you to sleep.

With the morning light, the planet's largest rain forest unfolds before you. Hope you like green. Wildlife is plentiful, but odds are you won't see much. Colorful macaws and toucans make enough racket to clue you in. Electric-blue morphos butterflies skirt the river edge. Freshwater dolphins check you out. Everything else—jaguars, tapir, anaconda, monkeys—will hide behind the trees until the National Geographic crew arrives.

En route to the fishing area, Phil suggests you try skiing behind his 120-horse Nitro. Water temperature is perfect. The surface is smooth as glass. The only ripples are the Queen's wake. Oh, and that 18-foot crocodile over there.

Don't worry about swarms of mosquitoes. They breed poorly in blackwater rivers. Malaria is rare, but take your tablets for peace of mind. Do worry about sunburn. Even on cool, cloudy days you can get fried. Wide brimmed hat, long-sleeves, and sunblock and sunglasses are de riguer. And after a day on the Equator, aloe vera gel will be your skin's best friend.

It will take about 24 hours to reach the fishing grounds. As you assemble your gear, you'll hear everyone's theory about lures, techniques, and peacock bass behavior. These will undoubtedly be revised over the course of the week.

A beautiful replica trophy hangs over the bar, reminding all that a Queen guest landed a world record 27-pound Peacock last November. In this virgin watershed, the feisty tucunare grow to super-lunker size. The boat's fishing log shows that most anglers catch several fish over 15 pounds, with more than a few tipping the scales over 20 pounds. "You'll get your chance tomorrow," assures Phil.

Special thanks to Quest! Global Angling Adventures and Scott Swanson for providing this information.

© All Original Material copyright by Scott Swanson. All Rights Reserved.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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