Hunt for the Giant Temensis

by | Sep 13, 2019 | Cichla Temensis, peacock bass | 1 comment

Untamed-AnglingI advise fly fishing travelers to set goals for every trip.  But keep them realistic based on location, fish species, time of year, weather and your abilities.  Realize that “fish of a lifetime” don’t jump on the hook and persistence and patience are your best friends.  Listen to your guide and be prepared to learn no matter how good you are on your home waters.  This week at Untamed Angling’s premier peacock bass fishery on the Marié River in the Brazilian Amazon, there are two things I hope to accomplish.  The first is easy – have a great time.  The second is catch a peacock bass (Cichla temensis) over 20lbs.


Rodrigo-Salles-fishingPeacock bass over 20lbs are infrequent fish.  Catching one on a fly is less common.  This is my 6th peacock bass trip and my biggest was slightly over 14lbs.  But the Marié River presents one the best opportunities for monster peacocks.  Furthermore, I’m fishing with one the most experienced peacock bass fly anglers, friend Rodrigo Salles, one of the founders of Untamed Angling.


Marie-River-BazilOur mothership, Untamed Amazon, begins positioned where the Marié and the Turi Rivers meet.  After a hearty breakfast Rodrigo and our Indian guide, Hamilton, set out up the Turi River for a 1.5 hour boat ride to a lake attached to the river where Rodrigo has caught big peacocks before.


Winston-Fly-Rods8-, 9- or 10-weight rods work for peacock bass fishing.  For the Marié however, forget the 8-weight because of the huge Marié fish.  I brought my 9-weight Jungle Winston.


Scientific-AnglersWhile floating lines are optimal, bring a sink tip as well.  Scientific Anglers makes the Titan Jungle tapers in both floating and with intermediate tips.  In my opinion they’re mandatory.  The lines are tapered to cast big flies like a dream and have a 60lb core strength, stronger than most other brands fly lines.  The reason you need the 60lb fly line is because rather than fish 20lb tippets like in the past, we fish straight 50lb fluorocarbon leader.  It’s critical that the fly line is stronger than the leader because if substantial force occurs the leader will break and not the fly line.


marie-riverAfter the long boat ride we reached a big bend in the river.  On river left was an oxbow so large we couldn’t see the end.  Hamilton cut the boat engine and fired up the trolling motor.


peacock-bass-fliesI tossed my favorite peacock fly.  It’s not a particular pattern but it has plenty of red and white – colors peacocks love.  It’s a size 3/0.  This one also has light dumbbell eyes to add sink.  I fish it on the floating Jungle line and when the fly lands I start with two hard strips then let it sink five seconds.  Then I pull it along with an easy strip.


Jeff-Currier-peacock-bassThe action on a far-flung Amazon tributary is unreal.  There are tons of fish if you’re away from humans.  Here on the Marié drainage there’s no one.  Not a sole.  In the first ten minutes Rodrigo and I each landed a few butterfly peacock bass (Cichla mariposa or ocellaris).  This species doesn’t get much bigger than this.


Untamed-AnglingAs we worked our way into the lake the edges were ridden with sunken trees.  These places are where the 50lb leader proves its importance.  Big peacock bass pull as hard as any fish in the world.  They can yank a person right out of the boat if not careful.  But good news, if you stay strong during the tug-a-war for about 15 seconds, most of the time you win.  Though peacocks tug so hard it’s scary, they give up fast.


fly-fishing-peacock-bassRod and I moved two big fish during the next hour while landing numerous butterflies.  Then I connected to a beast and the war was on.  I won the hardest part, the beginning of the battle, but in the end as Hamilton poised with the net, my colorful fish came off.


I was disappointed but reminded myself it was early in the day and it’s Day 1.  I took a glance at my leader and fly to be sure all was ok and went back into action.  There was no time for being bummed out.  It wasn’t ten casts later I was on again.  And this was the fish I came for.



I kid you not, after a few minutes of furry I was holding a 21 pounder.  I couldn’t believe it.  There’s nothing better than obtaining your hardest goal on the first day.  The pressure was off before it started.  I’ll take it.  The oversized cichlid measured at 85cm long and 55cm in the girth!


cichla-temensisIn past Amazon trips I average two peacock bass over 10lbs in a week.  Thirty minutes after the 21lber, to my disbelief, I landed another.  This one was 16lbs.  He chased both Rodrigo’s and my fly to the boat and ate mine as my leader entered the rod.  It was a miracle I hooked him.  And a marvel I didn’t break my Winston when the fish exploded and spun away inches from my tip!


fly-fishing-the-amazonNormally I’d keep casting but it was time to appreciate the moment.  I popped a beer and kicked back.  There may be a few rests for me this week.  I haven’t mentioned it because its poor Granny that needs the surgery next week, but I’ve been dealing with a bad case of what I think is tennis elbow since early August.  I’ve heard the term “tennis elbow” before but never gave it much thought.  It’s miserable.  Along with the beer I put down a few Advil.


Marie-RiverI hung tight and enjoyed my beer.  Rodrigo kept hard at work.  I enjoy watching a good angler cast and hit the spots.  Rodrigo is amazing.  And he knew there was a big fish feeding frenzy.  Rodrigo had himself braced in the position to hang on tight and torque on a giant.  Sure enough as I drained my last swig of beer Rodrigo hooked up.


Rodrigo-Salles-pacaRodrigo landed a gorgeous paca.  The peacock bass types can get confusing so I’ll try to explain.  Once again, the big peacock bass we’re after are Cichla temensis.  The common name is speckled peacock bass.  When they look like my big one pictured above with the dark bars on the side they call them Azul.  When the bars don’t exist or are hard to see but instead there are beautiful white speckles all over, they are called paca.


Rodrigo’s paca weighed 14lbs.  Already this was the best day of peacock bass fishing I’d ever experienced.  Believe it or not, in the afternoon I added a 17lber and 18lber to my day and Rodrigo added a 16lber to his.  Un-Freaking-Believable!


Jeff-Currier-flyfishingI could go on and on writing about our duels with each big fish but I need rest and to prepare for five more days.  Hands down though, I may have experienced the best day of peacock bass fishing I’ll ever have in my life.


Untamed-AnglingWe returned to the Untamed Amazon at sunset.  While not a heap of other big fish were caught there were a couple 15lbers.  As we showered for dinner our mothership pulled anchor and headed down the Marié.  While we ate a delicious tambaqui dinner and drank wine we covered nine miles.  We’ll be fishing all new water in the morning.


If this is a trip you want to do (and you are crazy if you don’t!) you can Contact me, Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures or Untamed Angling.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Jack Meredith

    Jeff, Suzanne and I were both right with you catching that big one and mine was only a 19# but what an experience! To us, it was the fishing trip we enjoyed the most in our journey thru life. We have caught sails around Captivia, Fla and loved it but the trip on the Amazon, Rio Negro will always be the most thrilling!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!