Carp Fishing in Phoenix

blog-Nov-25-2014-1-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-grass-carpAfter the car ordeal Friday, Granny and I bee lined for our friends Cinda Howard and Steve Berry’s house down near Phoenix.   They have a nice place in Mesa with a comfy guest room, even nicer than the back of our Explorer.  Each morning we sipped coffee on their back porch watching humming birds work the flowers and quail clean up under the birdfeeders.  It’s warm like spring down here in Phoenix.


blog-Nov-25-2014-2-jeff-currier-steve-berryWe’re visiting so we can chase the carp of Phoenix.  I’ve been fly fishing for carp down here annually for more than ten years.  I met Cinda and Steve back on that first trip when I was speaking at one of the Sportsmen’s Shows.  It took us a lot of years to get the fish dialed, but indeed we have it figured out these days.  In fact Cinda has it so dialed she’s a guide for them and if you ever want to fish here you can contact her at Arizona Fly Fishing.


blog-Nov-25-2014-3-granny-currier-flyfishing-for-grass-carpWe fished hard for three days and now Granny and I are working our way back to Victor.  This will be a rare photo blog with little text as I’m limited on time.  As mentioned in the last blog, I’m unexpectedly bound for the Seychelles to do an emergency trip hosting job.  The Seychelles will be the full on blogging and should be unreal!


blog-Nov-23-2014-4-flyfishing-for-talapiaFly fishing for talapia.  These African Bream don’t come easy on the fly!


blog-Nov-24-2014-5-jeff-currier-with-white-amurOne of my all time favorite things, fly fishing for grass carp (white Amur)!  This is a nice one on my 4-weight Winston with an olive grass hopper.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Seychelles Bound

blog-Nov-22-2014-lees-ferryIt’s hard to find anything good when you’re broke down on the highway 1,500 miles from home.  But then my phone rang.  It was Jim Klug, longtime friend and owner of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures.  Jim was supposed to host a trip to the Seychelles departing this Sunday.  He can’t make it and he asked me to take over.


Granny and I are going to continue our trip down here on the desert with a few days of carping with Cinda Howard and Steve Berry.  We intend to start the drive home on Wednesday and get home Friday afternoon.  I’ll pack on Saturday and start the journey to the island of Farquhar on Sunday.  Guess the fishing season for 2014 isn’t over yet!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

No Apache Trout this Trip

blog-Nov-20-2014-1-brokendown-in-winslow-azThis trip has been rocking.  Granny and I have enjoyed some nice desert camping and last night we finally indulged the comforts of a hotel and a night on Flagstaff, Arizona.  But today, on the way to Show Low, Arizona where we intended on catching Granny her first Apache trout, things went south.


Our Exploder broke down in the boonies just outside Winslow, Arizona (yea the place in the song).  We were going to stretch our legs at Meteor Crater but they wanted $36.  We were ticked and I went to fire up the truck to leave and no such luck.  I used all my amazing car mechanic skills but still no luck.  Two hours later we were in a tow truck on the way back to Flag.


blog-Nov-20-2014-2-jeff-currier-broken-down-in-arizonaIt’s now 4 PM and $500 later and we have a new alternator and some battery cables.  We are no longer going for Apache trout but are rather headed to Phoenix to visit our friends Cinda Howard and Steve Berry.  All Granny and I want to do is settle down, take on some heat, walk in flip flops and fly fish for carp.  Two messed up car stories and less than two weeks – this has been a long hard day.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Utah’s Slot Canyons

blog-Nov-18-2014-1-slot-canyon-in-utahGranny and I were headed for Utah over the weekend.  Instead we spent the weekend shoveling 17” of snow off the driveway.  First it was the brutal cold now the snow.  It’s too dang early for this in my book.


blog-Nov-18-2014-1-capitol-reef-national-parkThe answer to such brutal weather is head south.  Starting Monday afternoon Granny and I drove to Torrey, Utah and slept a cold night in the back of the Explorer.  Then Tuesday we continued down to Escalante, Utah and took the Hole-in-the-Rock road, 26 miles of dirt, deep into the desert and made camp at Dry Fork Slots.


blog-Nov-18-2014-2-jeff-and-granny-currier-in-desertOur camp was likely the most desolate we’ve experienced in years.  The place was spectacular but you definitely don’t want to breakdown out there.  We lit a huge fire and grilled up some dinner and enjoyed a bottle of red.  The night was freezing cold in the Explorer once again.


blog-Nov-18-2014-3-jeff-currier-in-peekaboo-slot-canyonToday we hiked a couple well known slot canyons.  Until today, I never knew what a slot canyon was.  This was totally Granny’s idea.  All I can say is they are really cool climb/hike/scrambles through deep dark narrow canyons that you better not do if you’re at all claustrophobic.  We climbed up one called Peek-A-Boo then bushwhacked across the desert and entered the top of another called Spooky and descended down it to the end.


blog-Nov-18-2014-4-jeff-currier-catching-a rattlesnakeYou should also avoid slot canyons if you dislike rattlesnakes and black widows (probably scorpions as well but that’s the one thing we didn’t see).  I was squeezing myself through a tight hole and just where I was about to land my right foot was a baby rattler.  I pulled back just in time and once I caught my breath realized I needed to move him before some other hikers weren’t as lucky as me.  I finagled my way around him while Granny kept an eye and waited.  I went all the way out of Peek-A-Boo and found a stick then came back in and caught the rattler and moved him out.


blog-Nov-18-2014-5-granny-currier-slot-canyonAnd yea there was a black widow and the slot canyons were wild.  We slipped through some tight places, dropped down into darkness more than once.  Slot canyons are definitely an experience and the ones we did today are considered excellent.  There were some crazy tight holes we climbed through.  We had to leap off a ledge and drop down ten feet or so.  I got stuck because my backpack was on.  The day was a wild one and we didn’t even fish!


blog-Nov-18-2014-6-bryce-canyonAfter catching the sunset in Bryce Canyon National Park, we ended the day an hour ago here in Kanab, Utah nearly in disaster.  During our last fifteen miles tonight there were mule deer all over the road.  After two close calls I dropped to 35mph.  An on coming car hit a large buck.  The deer flew high in the air up over our car and landed inches behind.  Had it landed on us we’d of been screwed.  The car that hit the deer disintegrated and pieces of grill, bumper and windshield sprinkled down all over our car.  The end result another driver extremely distressed over his totaled vehicle, a few dings on my car and a new crack in the windshield and a dying deer in the road.


blog-Nov-18-2014-7-jeff-currier-hiking-a-slot-canyonIt’s been a long exciting day – mostly good.  The cold weather is hard to bear camping so we’re heading for Arizona in the morning.  I see some grass carping in our future.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

A Rough Ride to Bozeman

blog-Nov-13-2014-1-bozeman-mtI was home a whopping 48 hours before heading to Bozeman, Montana yesterday.  I had a meeting with Simms then I presented “Trout Bumming the World” for Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited in Bozeman, Montana.  The meeting with Simms was great and my talk went fantastic, but my drive up – not so good.


I took my old Explorer, the one with 275,000 miles on it, only because this weekend Granny and I are heading on a ten day road trip to the desert with our newer Explorer, the one with 175,000 miles.  The newer one was at the shop getting a new muffler, something it’s needed for about four months.


blog-Nov-13-2014-2-jeff-currier-bozemanOur weather is simple, disgustingly cold for November.  Yesterday was 10 below zero in Victor when I left.  Just as I got comfortable in my car, the XM was blasting and the heat working lovely, I hit a bump on the Bitch Creek Bridge.  A god-awful rattling sound started and before I got up the hill on the other side of the bridge a part broke lose spinning crazily down the 32.   I stopped and picked it up.  I’m no mechanic but it sure looked like a piece of the exhaust system.


I tossed the dirty-rusted-out chunk of Explorer in the back seat and got back in the car.  Lucky enough she seemed to run fine.  I hit the next bump at the Pillsbury silo and an even worse sound started and sparks went flying behind me.  My entire exhaust system broke loose and was dragging down the road.  A long story short, I was desperate to make it to Bozeman, so the Explorer and I limped into Ashton and I found a mechanic that cut the exhaust system completely off.


Let’s just say it was a loud trip to Bozeman and back but a little suffering builds character.  And I made my meetings.  Next on the agenda is earning some credits with Granny.  We’ll head for the deserts of Utah this weekend.  Hopefully it won’t be 18 below zero like it was in Bozeman this morning!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Memories from Fly Fishing in Guyana

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFly Fishing for arapaima in Guyana

blog-Nov-8-2014-2-flyfishing-in-guyanaAn angry arapaima tries to spit the fly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArapaima 250lbs vs angler 165lbs

DCIM100GOPROButterflies in Guyana

blog-Nov-8-2014-5-flyfishing-for-piranhaBlack piranha on the Winston

blog-Nov-8-2014-6-flyfishing-in-guyanaCasting for arapaima

blog-Nov-8-2014-7-peacock-bassPeacock Bass in Guyana

blog-Nov-8-2014-8-banks-beerBanks Beer of Guyana

blog-Nov-8-2014-9-fishing-for-arapaimaA 73” arapaima from Mac Creek in Guyana

blog-Nov-8-2014-10-frogs-in-guyanaAn insect controlling tree frog over the bed

blog-Nov-8-2014-11-tim-brune-fishing-arapaimaTim Brune hoists another arapaima in Guyana

blog-Nov-8-2014-12-camping-in-guyanaCamping up the Rewa River

blog-Nov-8-2014-13-arapaima-scalesArapaima scales

blog-Nov-8-2014-14-arapaima-on-the-flyArapaima testing fly rod, reel, line and of course, the knots!

blog-Nov-8-2014-15-flyfishing-for-arapaimaArapaima release

blog-Nov-8-2014-16-whip-spiderWhip Spider

blog-Nov-8-2014-17-flyfishing-for-arowanaFly fishing for arowana

blog-Nov-8-2014-18-ross-reels-winston-rods-sa-linesFly fishing for arapaima from the dugout in Guyana

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy times fly fishing for arapaima

blog-Nov-8-2014-20-flyfishing-at-rewa-eco-lodgeThe end of a tremendous trip to Guyana!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Arapaima in Guyana Ends Strong

blog-Nov-7-2014-1-flyfishing-for-arapaimaTim and I had the last day blues when we got up.  In 48 hours we’ll be back in the states getting a reality check.  This Guyana trip has been no less than exceptional!


blog-Nov-7-2014-2-amazon-lilyThe morning session took place on Makateli Lagoon for Tim and I and Jim. Alex hadn’t caught an arapaima yet so he was taken back to the Caiman Pond to increase his chances.  Makateli is a large half-moon shaped lagoon with lots of hyacinth along its edges and a few of the huge Amazon Lily pads.  Today I got that lily flower picture.  This flower is larger than my Ross F1 #5 Reel!


blog-Nov-7-2014-3-flyfishing-in-guyanaIn past years Makateli Lagoon has been phenomenal and we went in with high expectations.  The journey started bad however.  This is a lagoon where dugout canoes remain for fishing.  When we got there one was completely sunk.  Matt and Terry did a fast and furious job of splashing out the water with paddles.  The speed in which they cleared it out was impressive.


blog-Nov-7-2014-4-flyfishing-for-arapaimaUnfortunately there weren’t any arapaima around.  We might have heard one breathe deep under the hyacinth but we weren’t sure.  Even so, there was no way to cast there so that arapaima was safe from us.  Matt made a wise decision to pack it up and hike out and start on our afternoon lagoon early.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe got to our afternoon lagoon, Mac Creek, early enough to get in some morning fishing.  And man were there some arapaima.  Mac is tiny, barely big enough for two boats, but the place was loaded with arapaima.  I took the bow first and immediately hooked up.  I got numerous good hook setting jabs but just as the arapaima hit my backing and went to jump he came loose.  Bummer!


Tim took the next hour and may have had a tap or two but nothing serious.  We’re surprised because there are a ton of rolling fish.  By noon it was too hot to handle so we called it for a lunch break.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALunch proved interesting.  The food was fine and all, but when I took a swig of beer then leaned back and put my hands behind me, my right hand landed on a wasp.  At least we’re pretty sure that’s what it was.  In less than a second I got stung and the pain was instantly excruciating.  I’m losing my vision up close and all I could see was a stinger about ¼ inch long pumping yellow pussy venom into the soft spot between my thumb and forefinger.  Knowing Tim had pliers I stuck my throbbing hand in his face and begging I said, “Get the stinger!”


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt took Tim three tries before he got ahold of the stinger.  Undoubtedly the first two tries did nothing more than squeeze more venom in me.  Within a minute I wasn’t just hurting in my hand but pain and numbness crept up to the elbow.  Good news however, Dr. Lesley had a first aid kit with a venom sucker.  She’d never used it before so we knew this would be interesting.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt that point I’d have tried anything.  I was hurting and nervous about the numbing going up my arm.  I get stung often at home but no wasp ever hurt like this.  And we still weren’t sure what got me.  So Lesley went to work and whether or not her sucking device worked, it was entertaining enough to get my mind off the sting.


blog-Nov-7-2014-9-jeff-currier-arapaima-artworkI had three hours for the pain to subside before our last session of fishing.  All I cared about was getting back out on Mac Creek and catching one more arapaima.  I knocked back three Advil with more beer and luckily it was uphill from there.  I even got Lesley’s Pelican case finished.


blog-Nov-7-2014-10-tim-brune-flyfishing-for-arapaimaWhen fishing time came my hand was still swollen but it didn’t hurt in comparison to when I got stung.  Regardless, Tim took the bow firsts and was quickly into rollers.  The first couple fish he threw at followed leaving a bubble trail and we knew it was going to happen.  Finally it did and Tim hooked and landed this 63”.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter that I took the bow.  The first couple casts were uncomfortable but then an arapaima rolled in range.  There was no more pain and I dropped my fly ahead of the moving fish.  One strip and he was on.  There was no slipping of the line just solid sets that felt as if I was hooking concrete.  This bad boy was on and in the air and on his first jump he spit out a baby wolf fish.  It’s hard to see but if you look close the wolf is flying through the air high above the splash.


blog-Nov-7-2014-12-dr-lesley-de-souza-researching-arapaimaTim and I are getting pretty good at this and I muscled this one to the shallows in 8 minutes.  Lesley and Jaclyn hopped in fast and got their work going.  This fish was 73” and very uncooperative.  He went crazy during measurements.  He almost got away when Lesley implanted the tag.  Then he got away when she tried for the blood sample.  Maybe I landed this one a bit too fast.


blog-Nov-7-2014-13-arapaima-fishing-in-guyanaThese two awesome fish would be the last for Tim and I on this trip.  But what a Grande finale – the boys from Victor end with a tremendous bang!  I don’t think I’ve ever been so stoked on a trip in my life!


There was some great news when we got back to the Lodge as well.  Alex landed an arapaima at the Caiman Pond. Everyone caught a fish this week.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had a big night under the full moon at the Rewa Eco-Lodge.  We had a lot to celebrate from the week.  I’ve finally met and caught what might be the most amazing fish on the planet.  The arapaima has long been in my dreams and honestly, I never thought I’d catch one.  Furthermore, I met some great new people this week with the same passion for Amazon and the unique wildlife and fish that live here.


Although this is the “Last Fishing Day” post, tomorrow I’ll post a few more photos from the trip.  WHAT A TRIP THIS HAS BEEN!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Swimming with a Sea Monster – the Arapaima

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATrips like these start to take their toll towards the end of the week.  Everyone was dragging a bit and no one was on time for the scheduled 5 AM breakfast.  We’ve been putting in long days and having some fun at night.  And it’s the Amazon, it’s a harsh environment that wears you down.


blog-Nov-6-2014-2-flyfishing-in-guyanaThis morning’s fishing took us downstream 30 minutes from Rewa Eco-Lodge.  We exited the Rewa River and entered the Rupununi River and pulled off on river left.  Then we hiked about 20 minutes into Sand Landing Lagoon.


I took the bow and we eased into the lagoon with Terry and Cane gently paddling.  Matt Breuer was on board as well today and he and Tim can really reenact movies and tell some good jokes.  It was hard to be quiet up front because I was cracking up.  It was good to have the entertainment however because there weren’t any rolling arapaima on this huge lagoon.


blog-Nov-6-2014-3-arapaima-rollingOn the far side there’s a narrow stream that connects this lagoon to another.  Terry and Cane decided we’d cross Sand Landing Lagoon and bust our way through the creek and try the distant lagoon.  Before we got to the creek Cane pointed out an arapaima roll under some overhanging trees.


I saw the left over disturbance and would’ve written it off as an arowana because I wasn’t looking that way.  But you never doubt these local guides.  It’s like me knowing the difference from a whitefish rise or a trout rise so I made my cast and stripped with confidence.


blog-Nov-6-2014-4-jeff-currier-arapaima-fishing-in-guyanaI prospected around underneath the trees dropping short sidearm casts.  As I was making my last strip, with my super strong but oversized fly line to leader connection inches from my rod tip, an arapaima devoured my fly.  Without thinking of the consequences I strip set three times taking my knot deep in the rod.  The freshly hooked 6-foot long fish was only inches from my rod tip.  The arapaima took off and by absolute miracle my large connecting knot went back out through the rod guides without taking a rod section with it.  The fish was on!


(Jaclyn had me set up with a Go Pro for this fish so eventually I’ll post my first video clip.  From what I saw on her computer it’s pretty sick!)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA 13 minute battle ensued then Terry went overboard and grabbed my arapaima.  This fish measured 75” with a 35” girth and was much easier to handle than my monster two days ago.  I’m stoked to say this time we got some amazing photos!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the hero shots Lesley and Jaclyn jumped in and we got a tag inserted and a blood sample.  All the time my fish was very relaxed.  Once done with that I had the great pleasure of resuscitating the stunning creature and releasing him myself.  I’m telling you, it was one of the most spectacular experiences of my entire life – UNBELIEVABLE!


The rest of the morning went slow.  We ventured into the next lagoon but only saw one arapaima roll.  Undoubtedly, my catch was very very lucky and I’ll give all the credit to Cane and Terry for putting me on the subtle arapaima roll.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALunch time put even me in the hammock however rather than sleep, I started up what should be a killer arapaima piece I’m doing with the sharpies.  This one is going on Lesley’s Pelican box.  I’ve never done art on the gray box so we’ll see how she comes out.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur afternoon session led to two more hooked but lost arapaima.  We were in some tiny lagoons called Coconut Creek, all connected by three small creeks.  They were so tight that in getting the boat through Tim, Matt and I had to walk.  Tim hooked his arapaima right next to the boat and didn’t have enough room to strip set.  I cast to some precarious arapaima bubbles and got jolted only to lose the fish seconds later.  I never buried the hook.  Tomorrow is our last day.  That just sucks!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Guyana from Rewa Eco-Lodge

blog-Nov-5-2014-1-amazon-otterI relished a relaxing cup of coffee overlooking the Rewa this morning well before anyone else woke up.  While I enjoyed watching a caiman across river and a pair of Giant Amazon otters playing, I couldn’t get my mind off catching my first arapaima yesterday.  These fish aren’t only  the most amazing fish I’ve ever caught but perhaps the most amazing wildlife I’ve ever set eyes on.


blog-Nov-5-2014-2-army-antsAfter breakfast we boated upstream five minutes followed by a ten minute walk into the jungle.  The walk got a little spicy when Tim and I stepped right smack on a trail of army ants.  Both of us got stung to pieces.  That’s what we get for navigating the jungle in flip flops.  As always, the boats were there waiting and guides Rovin and Cane paddled us out on to Peruan Pond.  The arapaima were rolling.


blog-Nov-5-2014-3-tim-brune-flyfishing-for-arapaimaI’m still coasting on yesterday so I leaned back while Tim took the bow.  It didn’t take long for him to go tight on a fish.  And when I say tight I mean my man Brune hooked this one good and ten minutes later we were shooting photos.  They are so incredible!


blog-Nov-5-2014-4-dr-lesley-de-souza-researching-arapaimaAfter our photo session Dr. Lesley de Souza and Jaclyn went to work documenting length and girth measurements (fish was 75” long with 35” girth).  Then Lesley checked for a previous tag which there wasn’t so she inserted another.  This big arapaima was extremely patient with us and after the tagging Lesley easily extracted a blood sample.  It is so cool to be part of this research – especially because we get to catch the arapaima!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took over the bow for the next couple hours.  I had a fish roll a rods length from me and flopped a leader cast on him.  The sizeable fish ate my fly but I had no room for a strip set and made a desperate and useless set with my rod.  Arapaima 1 Currier 0.


blog-Nov-5-2014-6-arapaima-in-guyanaTwo more times I got that tap that in your head can’t possibly be from a monster fish.  But I’m sure they were and I just missed them.  These fellas are tough to hook.  Tim took the bow for his second attempt and on his third cast got a tap.  He continued his strip and ended getting five taps without connecting.  Ten feet from his pick up and recast he got a sixth tap and strip set so hard he ended up in my lap.  But good news, this time the fish was on.


blog-Nov-5-2014-7-tim-brune-arapaima-fishingLikely the problem was that this was a small arapaima.  Like in tarpon fishing, the little guys are harder to hook because you pull them towards when you set. The big boys are heavy enough they don’t move and the hook drives in.  Tim’s arapaima was a snazzy little 53” that was cute in comparison to the previous beasts.


I spent the last hour before lunch on the bow and cast to numerous rollers but to no avail.  Yes, indeed I got another of those annoying taps but these fish this morning didn’t have my name on them.  Tim on the other hand – fantastic performance!


blog-Nov-5-2014-8-dr-lesley-de-souza-tracking-arapaima-in-guyanaThe afternoon session was short because we had to break down camp and make the long boat ride back to Rewa Eco-Lodge.  We dabbled in the extremely muddy Fish Pond.  Fish Pond was small and we saw one random rolling arapaima.  I made numerous casts at him for an hour but I don’t think he ever saw my fly because of the lack of visibility and the fact that he was in a deep hole.  It’s too bad I couldn’t connect because it happened to be an arapaima that Lesley has a satellite tracking tag in that she placed last March.  It would have been neat to see how much he’d grown in eight months.


blog-Nov-5-2014-9-jeff-currier-and-tim-brune-swimming-in-the-amazonWe had an afternoon swim then on the way home there’s a rapid . . . actually not really a rapid but a section of river with some lava rock and more current than the rest of the river.  Its places like these where I’ve taken some huge payara in Venezuela.  I mentioned it to Tim on the ride home and he asked Rovin if we could bomb a few casts when we got there.  Rovin said yes.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce there Tim and I were haunted by our flip flops again.  They were no match for the difficult terrain.  Despite being treacherous I ventured along casting my 10-weight Winston and with my floating Titan taper.  On it an enormous Chartreus Clouser Minnow attached by 20lb wire, necessary for the toothy payara or the random piranha.


blog-Nov-5-2014-11-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-piranhaWe only had about fifteen minutes and probably never got to the best water.  I had a big blow up on my fly in very shallow water but couldn’t tell what species.  A couple minutes later I connected and landed a hefty black piranha that I cautiously held all the time his teeth clattering frantically.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe black piranha is also known as the redeye piranha and there’s some confusion as to whether there may be several different species of black piranha.  What I know is this one was far bigger than the whites and red-bellied piranhas I’ve taken in the past.  I made dang sure not to get my fingers too close to his snapping jaws.  There’s no doubt Rovin would rather I’d not caught him at all!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a beautiful boat ride the rest of the way back to Rewa Eco-Lodge under the moonlight.  We have only two more days of fishing.  What a bummer!  I absolutely love this place and the challenge of arapaima.  Tomorrow I hope to catch another!  Stay tuned. . . . .


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Dream Comes True – Arapaima on the Fly

blog-Nov-4-2014-1-flyfishing-for-arapaimaAt dinner last night Matt Breuer announced that today we’d be hiking 30 minutes into the Caiman Pond.  The significance here is that Caiman Pond is the best arapaima location Rewa Eco-Lodge has discovered.  More than half the arapaima caught since this fishery was revealed came from here.


blog-Nov-4-2014-2-tim-brune-in-guyanaCaiman Pond is in fact the place where my partner this week, Tim Brune, caught both his arapaima last March.  He told me long before we left Victor that if we were struggling at all on this trip, Caiman Pond would produce us our arapaima on the fly.  This is all good news but the pressure was on.


blog-Nov-4-2014-3-black-caimanUpon arrival at Caiman Pond the name was obvious.  From one side to the other black caiman lurked.  All sizes, facing the same direction waiting for an easy meal.  There were hundreds of them.  If it was your first time around these intimidating reptiles you’d undoubtedly be freaked out.  But my experience is they always move away and there’s nothing to fear from the boat.  Amongst the caiman were numerous rolling arapaima.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim wants me to get my arapaima out of the way so he generously gave me the bow first.  It was already scorching hot and as I yanked fly line from my big F1 reel to get ready, it kept slipping through my sweaty hands.  I dried them on my shorts the best I could but no doubt, clenching the line and driving a hook into the rock hard mouth of my first arapaima wasn’t going to be easy.


blog-Nov-4-2014-5-flyfishing-the-amazon-of-guyanaJim and Alex were in the other boat.  These are the same boats we used yesterday at Grass Lagoon. The kids from the nearby village make a small amount of money dragging the boats through the jungle all the way to these back county ponds.  The boats were ready when we got there.


blog-Nov-4-2014-6-lesley-de-souza-jaclyn-melliniOn shore the Scientist crew Dr Lesley de Souza and Jaclyn Mellini patiently waited.  This is the first time they’ve followed anglers around to catch arapaima for tagging.  In the past they’ve netted them but I it’s a major rodeo because of numerous other species to deal with.  By now they had to be wondering if we were ever going to catch a fish for them to tag.


Things looked good.  I didn’t go five minutes without an arapaima to cast at.  But after 45 minutes of laying my brightly colored peacock bass imitation in front of many without an eat, ideas of a fly change crossed my mind.


blog-Nov-4-2014-7-tim-brune-flyfishing-for-arapaimaTim took over.  I looked in my fly box.  My colorful 7/0 Warpath fly I’d been fishing since day one is a work of art.  But it was time for a change.  I needed the opposite.  I went with a no name fly that was darker and smaller.


Tim too presented his fly in front of arapaima continuously without a strike.  I voiced my thoughts about a darker fly and he agreed and tied one on.  It didn’t take long for him to get the first strike.  Sure enough, at 10 AM it happened.  Tim stuck one solidly.


blog-Nov-4-2014-8-arapaimaArapaima must be gliders.  What I mean is, I picture them taking the fly head on, clamping down and then continuing to glide towards you.  You strip set like mad but regardless of how hard you strip set you have trouble getting tight because the fish is still coming towards you. Meanwhile your fly sits lose in the monster fish’s mouth.  If you’re lucky he finally turns and that’s when you get tight.  Sometimes you stay tight because you strip set at the exact right time and catch a soft spot.  Realistically however, most of the time the arapaima opens up and the fly pulls out without ever hooking any part of the boney mouth.


blog-Nov-4-2014-9-flyfishing-for-arapaimaOnce you hook up hang on for dear life.  This eel-like fish isn’t going to fight you long, but his burst of strength is one where the 12-weight feels under gunned.  The surge of power takes all the fly line then the heavy weight contestant puts all his energy into a jump.  About half his body leaves the water and crashes down with the largest fish jump splash you will EVER SEE IN YOUR LIFE!


blog-Nov-4-2014-10-tim-brune-hooked-to-an-arapaimaBy now he’s on the reel and with your straight 100lb test leader you heave and gain back the line as fast as you can.  These lagoons are littered with fallen trees and numerous other tangling dangers.  Don’t give these fish any more chances than they need.  Tim put ten minutes of relentless pressure on his arapaima and soon the bizarre fish was towed to the shallows.


blog-Nov-4-2014-11-tim-brune-flyfishing-for-arapaimaOut hopped our guides and thanks to years of experience they quickly contained the fish.  As the guides held on, Lesley and Jaclyn waded to the excitement and took length and girth measurements of the 65” fish, implanted a tag and took a blood sample from just behind the elongated dorsal fin.  Then Tim reluctantly got in the water for what turned out as amazing hero shots – the arapaima skunk was out of the boat!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we headed back out the other boat hooked up.  Jim was on a big fish of his own.  Unfortunately you can’t see the fish, but again, the splash is one to remember.  Jim’s fish measured 66”.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was my turn and I was determined to make it happen.  But the more you want something the harder it can be.  My casting could have been more precise and my concentration didn’t seem at its best.  And when I finally got that memorable touch, so light it’s hard to believe it comes from a monster fish, the line slipped on the strip set.  How could this be happening I thought?  A half hour later I got hit again and despite three or four good jabs my fly pulled free.  You can only imagine the frustration.


blog-Nov-4-2014-14-monster-arapaimaThe third time seemed like the charm.  I did as a major leaguer and slowed the game down.  I felt the touch and watched my hands not the fish.  I concentrated like my life depended on it.  I watched my left hand grab the line from below my stripping finger and struck as hard as I could.  Then I reached back up again and again.  Finally I came so tight I couldn’t pull anymore.  The fish ran and loose line bounced off the deck and through my guides.  I made a few more hard jabs sinking the hook even deeper.  As the backing to fly line knot entered the rod my arapaima leapt and to my dismay, the fly and line sprung back at us.  Another one lost.


The lunch time brews weren’t as tasty as they normally are.  I couldn’t get the image of my loaded fly line and fly zipping back at me.  And then that Volkswagen sized hole in the water with droplets thrown so high it looked like rain.  But I had to keep my confidence and go right back out there.  The arapaima wasn’t going to be a nemesis fish for me.


blog-Nov-4-2014-15-arapaima-scalesIf you’ve read this blog over the years then you know what happens next.  Only minutes on the water after the lunch break, with the pressure heavy upon me, I cast to a fish with scales the size of the top of a coke can.  My fly landed in front of his face and he engulfed it.  I went tight and knew on my first hook setting jab that I’d connected.  I went on to jab a few more times then waited for the jump.  But my line hardly went out and there was no jump.  No jump and not much of a run from a fish that normally does both usually means one thing – the fish is disgustingly huge.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith full confidence in my knots and tackle I reefed on the fish (may have been the other way around) furiously.  The idea with any fish is get him in fast to limit his time for escape and also so the fish won’t be too exhausted for release.  In less than five minutes I had him just off the bow.  The water is murky so I didn’t see him until I lifted my tip high to get him up (I was no way reeling my line to leader knot in my rod).  When I saw him I couldn’t believe my eyes.  How can a fish this big be from freshwater?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe grandfather arapaima didn’t like the surface.  Surely the sight of me meant death and he looked me in the eye and thrust his heavy body to the air.  He didn’t even make it half way out but I can tell you it was uncomfortable to be standing precariously a rod length away.  If he propelled his 200lb body my way I’d have two broken legs.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI got several more short runs and two more jumps.  I felt the arapaima tire.  We thought we had him and the guides back paddled us towards shore.  In turning the boat the fish obtained an advantageous angle and shot completely under the boat and back out to center lagoon.  My Winston passed the test of all tests and survived the angle and pressure.  I shoved my entire rod and arm under the boat and worked my way around the bow.  The fish exploded so viciously the splash formed its own rainbow! It was a tense moment but once there I regained control.  That was close!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we got the fish to the shallows it was evident how huge it was because everyone lost their mind.  First of all, one of the boat draggers ran out to help.  A guy with not nearly the experience of the guides.  He lunged at the arapaima only to be nearly taken out.  If you take a shot in the chest from a hot arapaima say goodbye ribcage.  You’ll look and probably sound like an accordion.  After that mishap everyone joined in and it was complete Circus O Lay.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMiracles happen all the time in fishing and this fish got landed.  I’m serious, so many hazards available to this fish yet he stayed on.  He didn’t tangle around someone’s leg and breakoff.  He didn’t leap into someone’s face or break someone’s leg.  But it was a rodeo I hope we don’t repeat again.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter Lesley and Jaclyn got the tag installed and a blood sample I was allowed near my fish.   Unfortunately the chaos continued and this is the best photo we got.  The 79” long with 40” girth arapaima was simply too much to handle.  As I settled in to position for a couple quick photos the arapaima exploded violently and got away.


blog-Nov-4-2014-21-flyfishing-in-guyanaI think more so than a “hero” shot I just wanted to be that last to touch that incredible creature.  I wanted to release him.  I’ll make a wild guess – this fish will be the largest of my entire life.  But you can’t always have it the way you want and I can add an amazing species to my list.  Today I’m the luckiest man on the planet.


The only one not to catch a fish today was Alex but he doesn’t seem to care.  We rocked one heck of a party at camp tonight under the near full moon.  It was fun.  Things are good in Guyana.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing