February 9, 2013
You could say things never go quite as planned when in South America. After a fun afternoon and evening around the Tropical Hotel in Manaus, Brazil, at 11 PM last night I was awoken to a call that my hosted Amazon River trip was no longer flying to the Jufari River at 8:30 AM but rather flying to the Xeurini River at sunrise. That being said, at 4:45 AM I was knocking on hotel doors waking up my group members earlier than they expected. There was no given reason for the last minute switch but I’m not concerned because I’ve fished the Xeurini River before and it’s no less than awesome.
In order to get to any of River Plate Anglers remote Amazon River fishing camps you must fly in on a small seaplane. There are strict weight restrictions and due to low water landing hazards the gear weight per person is a mere 30lbs. If you think that’s enough than throw some big reels with lines on a scale. Needless to say, most of us arrive with slightly more than allowed but the extra weight it generally overlooked.
We were no different than the average group and our flight went smooth. At 9 AM we made a safe water landing on the Xeurini. Our fishing guides exchanged last week’s clients for us and last weeks clients climbed aboard the plane for Manaus. We took off for camp. Less than an hour later, these same people stumbled into camp trembling and shocked. They should have been half way to Manaus but instead the plane made a last second bail out during take off due to overweight. Lucky for them, they avoided a flat out crash from the sky but unfortunately still bashed up into the jungle. Miraculously they all walked away from the damaged plane.
The plane chaos messed up the “welcome to camp” routine yet we found our way to the water before 11 AM. I fished with my former fly shop employee and great friend, boat mate and this week’s roommate, Mark Kuhn, better known around Jackson Hole as “Milkfish” because despite being human he has an uncanny resemblance to a milkfish.
Our guides name is Antonio and in spite of being here three times before, I’ve never met him. This is Milky’s first time chasing peacocks so I gladly stuck him up on the bow for the day and we went on to pummel more than 70 peacock bass, some piranha and dogfish. There are several species of peacock bass but most of todays were the small but handsomely spotted butterflies. Along with the fantastic fishing we saw Amazon River otters and a heap of pink dolphin.
The short day was unbelievably productive for the entire group and to top it all off, Mike Dawes landed an incredible 13lb peacock! Other than the near catastrophic plane crash the trip is off to a great start. The only bad thing is that heavy rain started at around 4 PM and I feel like I’m getting a sore throat. It’s not raining now but there’s threatening clouds in every direction.