Bummer Mr. Tapir

December 6, 2011

Becky wasn’t crazy about the idea of me jumping in with Dale today as she and I have been having a blast fishing together, but as group host I like to fish with the others if it’s possible. And today actually worked out fine because Becky got to fish with Steve whom she knew before the trip and they definitely had fun together. Fishing has been a little slow for Dale so my goal today was to try and figure out why. Also nice was I got to fish with Dales guide Moe who I enjoyed fishing with last time I was in Brazil. In fact, the last day Moe and I fished together I landed an 11lb and a 13lb peacock.

One thing Moe likes to do is get deep into the jungle. He has been guiding and running these waters longer than any of the guides. He has so many secret spots that I’m lost about ten minutes into our boat ride. It’s really amazing how well he knows this area. Today he ran Dale and me for about 45 minutes before we eased into a gorgeous little lagoon. A lagoon that had a few monster caiman lurking.

It took about two seconds to realize Dale could cast. Casting certainly wasn’t causing him not to catch fish. Dale can hit the targets and his fly was landing where the fish were. But it was his line control. When you land your fly for peacocks it’s essential to get an immediate strip. When a fly hits the water it attracts attention and sometimes an instant strike. If you are making a strip you hook the fish. If you’re still reaching for your line you can miss them easily. The other thing is if you think about a creature falling in the water – its not going to just sit there. The creature starts struggling. So your fly needs instant action. I advised Dale and he made an effort to get that first strip going quicker.

I landed a nice peacock almost immediately after we started. My catch made it obvious how important that first strip really is. Sure enough Dale started getting some looks at his fly too. By now the sun was cranking up the heat and adding a morning glow to the submerged rainforest. It was really spectacular when wham! Dales fly was consumed and all hell broke loose! It was a huge fish and unlike me where I hold on tight to the line until my fingers catch on fire, this big boy stole the line and in seconds snapped Dale off in the trees. Moe and I smiled and with a look of panic on his face Dale asked what happened? Then we laughed and I told Dale the line always slips but to try not to let it happen so soon. I’m telling you, when a big peacock eats IT IS SCARY!

An hour later I was the one getting schooled. Dale was resting and Moe was challenging my casting skills deep in the jungle. It was like being in a shooting gallery. It was a real kick trying to cast both lefty and righty as well as back hands and forward casts. I even slipped in a few roll casts to hit the unhittable spots. On one of my retrieves there was a huge boil behind my fly. I’d landed a few more small peacocks but this swirl was serious. Moe advised to rest the spot so we paddled away for ten minutes then went back. I changed to a Warpath jiglike fly and tossed it to the area where the big fish hung out. On the first strip I got pulverized and I clamped down on the line with all my might. Not a chance. This brute pulled the line from me within seconds and took for the forest. He purposely went around a couple trees and then snap. Only this wasn’t my 40lb leader. I lost two feet of the end of my fly line. Yikes! Giant peacocks are unreal!

The real monsters can manhandle about anyone with a rod. I don’t care if you’re an expert fly fisher or even a professional bait caster with 80lb test braid, peacocks frequently win. Other than an enormous lizard that leaped into the water after my fly and luckily missed it, our midday fishing was a little slow. The main reason was that Moe was searching us out a big fish. He saw us each break one off, now he wanted one in the boat. As he paddled us along the forest he noticed a disturbance in the middle of the lagoon. It was bubbles from a big peacock. And it was far from the forest. This peacock was 100 feet from the nearest snag. “Cast”, Moe screamed to Dale as he pointed. Not knowing peacocks ever leave their fortress Dale questioned Moe. “Why cast out there? There’s no fish out in the middle of the lagoon”, Dale stated. That’s when I yelled cast and pointed until finally he launched. He made a great cast. “Strip fast”, I shouted. The next thing I knew Dale was hooked up.

Again the line squirted away from Dale and the big fish charged for the trees. “Stop him! Stop him!” I was freaking out. Finally Dale at least slowed the fish to the point that when he reached some bushes he was tired. And when the peacock got tangled in the bushes he didn’t have enough left in his tank to break Dale off. He was stuck and we just needed to dig him out.

Moe is one of the best and overboard he went and into the brush with his Boga. There was a bit of commotion when the fish saw Moe’s face but he really was spent. Moe slipped the Boga to the peacocks’ mouth, cut Dales leader and swam out with the fish. Moe is awesome! He handed the fish to Dale and Dale landed what appeared to be one of the greatest fish of his life. I know the look. It’s a smile from ear to ear and the rest of his face and body was in shock. Dale went from not catching many fish to catching an 11lb Godzilla!

No ones day could have gotten any better after that. I love to see a friend catch a big fish. Dale was glowing. Moe had the pressure off and so did I. We fished a little more this afternoon and I ended up with ten fish. Dale only got one but it seemed like a hundred. Dale doesn’t drink beer at all but he had one with me on the ride home.

The ride home was interesting. There isn’t much boat traffic out in the boonies of the Amazon. We don’t even see many locals in dugouts. But there’s been a decrepit boat on the river the last couple days. It turns out they were locals from the village of Vale and they were hunting. When we saw them on the way to camp tonight Moe brought us over to see what they were up to. They had just shot a tapir for dinner. It was skinned out and dressed and the hunters were very pleased. I’ve never eaten tapir but they resemble a pig, a cow and perhaps even a small elephant. I’ll bet they taste great.

When we got back to camp I took a swim. You can swim in the Amazon as long as you keep your feet out of the water, otherwise you’ll lose your toes to piranha. Actually unless you’re bleeding to death and thrashing in the water a piranha attack on humans is rare. What you do have to worry about though are caimans and anacondas. They don’t scare me however – I’m just a crazy. . . . !

One Response to “Bummer Mr. Tapir”

  1. Erik Moncada December 16, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    These are awesome pictures… and it is great fun to read about fishing in the Amazon! Expo details are killing me, it is nice to escape just for a bit and read about your adventure. Keep it up and I look forward to the grand finally!

    And I do not think I would ever swim in the Amazon, you are THE TRUTH!

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