From Camp One – Roraima Brazil, Xeriuni River
I wasn’t feeling like a million bucks this morning as a true angler should when he awakes to go chase peacocks. That’s because I never slept. As my exhausted body slumped on to my bed last night a little alarm in my brain went off telling me that my SLR Cannon camera was missing. It was. Due to the excitement of our sea plane landing and meeting the awaiting guides in their boats, my protective Pelican camera case got left on the plane. Yes, left onthe plane!
The only thing that kept me from flipping out upon realizing this was that I have my cheap camera. Fortunately it was around my neck during the flight and deplaning. I knew I could take some pictures. However, not for long because my extra batteries and photo cards are in the Pelican box. Unreal! And two days ago in Manaus I thought it was a disaster that I brought two right feet to my flip flops!
It was the pure stress and anger with myself that kept me up all night. But as the birds and animals of the rainforest sounded off and strongcoffee entered my veins, I slowly woke up. By the time we finished up our early breakfast things were looking up.
First off, I put the incident behind me. I was hosting a trip to Brazil. I have a great group. Everyone including me and Granny are pumped. Why carry the stress any further into the trip. There was nothing that could be done. Don’t look back. It’s all about the memories. Screw the camera. Also, everyone in my group brought spare cameras and batteries. Paul and Amanda were quick to loan Granny and I their extra compact camera and Gregg and Jo have a battery charger that matches. So other than being a little groggy and annoyed with my own stupidity, things were going to work out fine.
The true medicine was to watch Granny get absolutely manhandled by a quality peacock five minutes after breakfast. Once on the water, our guide Hi, took us around the corner of camp and we immediately started pounding the banks. I had Granny fixed up with my9’ 8-weight Ross Essence and a floating line. She was tossing a fly tied by the infamous “Milkfish”, a cool kid that worked for me at the fly shop. It’s basically an olive and orange Puglisi style fly about a size 4/0. He put some realistic stripes on it with a sharpie so it really resembles a baitfish I see here all the time. It is always a killer type fly for me when searching for freshwater exotics. Unsurprising to me, Granny got rocked hard quickly.
In 1993 Granny experienced the smaller peacock specie, the butterfly (Cichla ocellaris), in Lago Gatun of the Panama Canal. They are arguably the most beautiful of all peacocks. But pound for pound they are no match for the natives of Brazil. She simply hooked this fish with an excellent strip set then proceeded to get the worst line burn she’s ever experienced. In fifteen seconds the fish pried the line loose from her trigger finger and entangled himself inthe submerged trees. He was gone. I was too tired still to laugh, but it got me fired up.
We didn’t start to slay them like you might expect. We had to work at it. We both missed a few more violent strikes before finally we started boating some fish. Most of these were the butterfly peacocks with a few of the larger speckled (Cichla temensis) and striped species mixed in.
I was rigged with my 10-weightRoss Worldwide and the Rio Outbound with the intermediate sink tip. Attached to this I have an 8-foot leader with a 20-pound class and a 40lb shock tippet to handle the abrasive mouths and gill plates of a large peacock. Attached to the end of this with my favorite loop knot, the non-slip mono loop, a 4/0 no name bomb fly tied by a friend we call Warpath (Brent Dawson). My philosophy is to let Granny pick off the cooperative fish from the front of the boat while I dredge up some of the deeper tougher fish. Today I did not pull out any big boy peacocks, but I did manage plenty of fish up to 7 lbs and a few other species. First off, I added a new species to my list, the jacunda. He’s a good looking fish that aggressively takes the same flies as the peacocks. I managed three of these each displaying their own unique array of colors. I also managed a traira (Hoplius malabaricus) a fish I’ve met in northern Argentina while dorado fishing. He’s as ugly as you can imagine and resembles a dinosaur more so than a fish. Last, we caught numerous Picua (Acestrorhynchus falcatus), referred to by the guides as dogfish. He’s a fish that looks incredibly like a barracuda of the saltwater flats. Oh, of course, you always catch piranhas and today was no exception.
Despite the way the day started, it was really great by the end. Everyone in the group caught fish. Fred Truax, a neat older fellow from San Francisco, came in hopes of catching a fish this week – today he caught about twenty! And Jo Friedman caught a 13-pounder! The guides working here are fantastic and the camp staff is great. The manager’s name is Jerry and there’s a 29 year old gringo named Adam who keeps things running smoothly.
That’s it. I’m ready to tank before I do a second all-nighter!