Colombian Jungle Adventure

When I first told my friends and family about fishing in the amazon they thought that I am crazy and I guess they still do… Nobody could understand why I would travel around half the globe, endure extremely hot temperatures plus thousands of insects flying around me and all that “suffering” just to catch some fish…

Well, I guess I take all that on me for the love, the love for bass fishing. After my last trip to Brazil back in march 2015, I just knew that I have to go back to jungle and look for the biggest and meanest peacock bass again and again and again! Don’t get me wrong, I like all kinds of bass and try to take every chance I get to hook one. But since I caught my first peacock, this obsession got even stronger! So when my friend and fishing buddy Daniel told me about some cheap flights to Colombia he just found I didn’t think much and just booked it. That was last summer and from then on we started to organize an adventure we would never have expected to be like it turned out in the end.

Let’s start from the beginning, towards the end of January I took the well known four hour train ride to Lugano. There I met with Daniel and together we travelled once again towards South America. Rough hours in the plane later we finally landed in Bogota, Colombia!

There were good news and bad news. The good one, all our luggage including rod tube made it complete and more or less safe to our destination. The bad news, the guy that was supposed to pick us up couldn’t be found anywhere. But thanks to the wonder of cellphones and Daniel’s Spanish Skills we finally got picked up and brought to our hotel. The rest of the day we spent unpacking and repacking tackle, eating steak and meeting up with our Aussie friend, Aaron, who joined us on this trip. At this point shoutout to him and thanks again for all the gifts and the time we spent!

So after a short night we drove back to the airport we came from a few hours earlier and got on our plane to Inirida. There the tropical weather welcomed us with all its heat. Thanks to El Niño, the temperatures where higher than usual (during noon the thermometer often reached over 40 celsius) and the water level of the Rio Orinoco and all the rivers around on unusual low levels for this time of the year. Despite the harsh conditions we continued our travel by boat to our camp at the Rio Vichada, the river we would fish for the next two weeks.

A few uncomfortable hours upriver later we finally arrived at our destination where the next surprise was already waiting for us. The group from last week was still here and wouldn’t leave until the next day. So instead of organizing our stuff, taking a shower and relaxing after a hard on day trip we were brought to the other side of the river were we shared dinner with millions of insects and spent the first night in sandy tents. We wished for an adventure and there we got, I guess. :)

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Getting up early was definitely worth it!

The breakfast and tackle preparations were quickly done and so we started into the first week of peacock bass fishing on the Rio Vichada! Not long after arriving at the first spot I already hooked some pretty peacocks on my Nemo Woodchopper.

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Due to the extrem low water levels, we had just four or five lagoons left to fish in. The rest were already inaccessible or even dried out. Sharing these limited possibilities with three other boats (there was a total of eight anglers in the camp during that week) didn’t make the fishing any easier. But instead of complaining we stood focused and kept fishing hard! I found lots of joy in fishing Highrollers and so I ended up fishing this exhausting technique for days. During the first days, both of us caught some good fish.

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Smaller one the Gan Craft Dead Slow

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Another one on my custom rasta Highroller!

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Daniel with a pretty one

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Stunning sunset ends a day peacefully.

On the third day my “Chopping” work already paid off more than generous when something huge hit my my topwater plug and hooked itself on the second blowup. A wild fight started and after Daniel helped me with his quick reaction to keep the line out of the boat engine, our guide, whose name is Daniel as well, safely landed my first 20lb peacock! What a moment! While my whole body was shaking of excitement I held this beautiful fish quickly in front of the camera before safely releasing it back to its element. One word to describe this feeling? AMAZING!

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Happy to see this fish swim away strongly!

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VMC 4X 2/0 Treble after my new PB

We didn’t catch tons of fish but a big part of the peacocks we hooked were good sized and so we never lost our motivation. Each cast could have been a monster so we kept casting. But most of the time we had to be content with the impressive scenario of the river…

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As always, we knew how to entertain ourselves even after hours without any fishcontacts…

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Fortunately, from time to time we got rewarded for standing the abnormally hot sun and the omnipresent sandflies and other insects.

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Special spots need special tactics – Daniel with a nice one from between the rocks on a Megabass lipless crank.

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Our guide learned quickly how to handle my camera and made this cool shot.

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Close to 20lb but in the end one, two pounds short. Nonetheless a beautiful fish on a Highroller.

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Details

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Lunch break – time to gather new energies and more important to get out of the sun for a bit.

Did I already mention the insects we had to deal with?
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Unlike brazil, where we didn’t really have any bigger troubles with insects, sandflies and mosquitos seem to like the Vichada. Wherever we went, there were some insects that would bite or sting every part of our bodies which weren’t fully covered or protected. The only things that worked were to completely cover ourselves or to pollute our skin with Maxi Deet which melted all kinds of plastic we touched after applying it. After the first few days fishing, my legs were completely swollen and felt like they could explode at any moment. But the worst was definitely my right foot which was swollen to more than three times the normal size what made each step a painful experience. So I decided to just keep standing, focusing on fishing and move as less as possible. With the help of several medications and cremes my bigfoot finally started to turn normal after four days in the balloon mode.
I guess such incidents are part of the price one has to pay in order to catch good fish…

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From time to time a quick thunderstorm blew away the insects but didn’t really make this adventure more comfortable. But who needs lots of comfort if there are cool fish to be caught?!
The approaching storms seemed to put the fish in a crazy mood and so, right before the rain started falling, I landed my only decent Payara after loosing fish after fish on the previous casts.

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Rain for dinner

The first week went by quickly and despite all the traffic from four boats fishing the surrounding lagoons we all had a great time and each one caught some good sized fish. For five of our group was it time to go back and while they were on their way to Bogota, Daniel, Aussie friend Aaron and myself drove a few hours up the river. We wanted to fish some untouched lagoons with the hope to find some fat peacock bass that haven’t seen plastic lures like ours yet. Our guide, who grew up in this region, led us to a lagoon he remembered from the past and shortly after entering it both boats hooked good fish.

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So we stayed the next two nights in the only place around, a small village in the middle of the vast wilderness. This was an adventure for itself not just because the shower which we had to take out of a bucket, surrounded by mosquitos. The major challenge was to get all the necessary supplies, the food was organized after a few chats but to find bottled water wasn’t that easy. Who spends money in a place where most people work hard for every pesos they make and have no problem with drinking filtered water directly form the river?! Questioning several people, we fortunately found a guy with a small grocery store who had a cooler full of water in bottles. What a relief! Our expedition could continue!

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Early morning in the town just before heading to new lagoons.

Thanks to our guide connections we were able to negotiate with an indian tribe and in change for a some cookies, coffee and a few other things they let us fish their lagoons.

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They even carried our boats over land to get into one of their lagoons where, according to their captain, huge peacocks were sighted and I guess some landed in their nets as well. Unfortunately we didn’t find much fish there but with the right conditions this spot should have big potential. I hope to be back there one day to see if our assumptions were correct…

After spending two nights in the small jungle town, a group of our camp finally reached us on our lunch break on day three of this excursion. They set up a tent camp at a beach and brought enough drinks and food that we could stay another three nights away from the lodge and fish new territories.

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Before this trip I would never have imagined to take a night bad in the river, equipped with nothing than a small flashlight and a piece of soap. But after sweating all day long I just had to and overcame my fear of getting attacked by some animal in the darkness. :)
Even though the comfort level was really low, I was happy to experience all this and because I never had to deal with any serious health issues during the whole trip I would say whole expedition was a crazy but great adventure!

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A storm blew away a few of the tents but in the end everybody slept more or less dry.

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The calm before the storm on our way back to the beach camp.

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Other evenings were calmer and provided natural spectacles.

While we spent the nights on the beach dealing with all the challenges such freestyle camping comes with, the days we were on the water catching peacocks!

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Our guide Daniel with the small caiman which took the Imakatsu Trairao.

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Good one on a Rapala X-Rap

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Respect the fish – release ’em safely!

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Two dots and six stripes – no photoshop! :)

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Did I already mention that I am a excellent rower? :)

For the last two days we returned back to the lodge which seemed way more luxurious than it did when we arrived there. After living five days or so out of a plastic bag, I was glad to take a shower and put on some dry, clean clothes.

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We fished the lagoons we knew from the first week and I finally got some more fish on my favorite lure, the Highroller. I have to mention that, despite all those hours of effort I put in, this technique didn’t really work out in the spots up river. Fortunately we found other techniques that led to success!

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On the last day I tried out the Deps Cascabel – BAMM!

That was it! After two weeks in the Colombian jungle, right next the Venezuela, our time to say goodbye had arrived.
I can only be thankful for this great, interesting experience. I learned and laughed a lot, caught some nice fish, met wonderful people and stayed more or less healthy during the whole trip. What else could I ask for?!
Even though there are several things that could be improved, I can’t really remember any point that I would like to complain about so I guess that says it all! The lodge was equipped with more or less everything necessary and all the people that worked there did a great job and put in effort to make all of us happy. Special thanks to our guide Daniel who was always up for a laugh, worked hard to put us on some fish and always cared about our safety. He was the main reason that we were able to get so far up river, fish very interesting waters and see things not many tourists have seen before. I wish him and his family all the best and deeply hope that we will see him and go fishing with him again!
Also a big thanks to Alejo, boss of the lodge, for two amazing weeks and all the laughs! See ya!
Last but not least a big thanks to my fishing buddy Daniel who still takes me on such cool trips and organizes everything! You know :)

I definitely hope that this wasn’t my last trip Colombia and I will do everything I can to do another peacock bass trip in the next season. Stay tuned!

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Thanks for your time, I hope you enjoyed it!
I also brought back many GB of video material which I need to sort out and cut first. I hope to release a video soon.

Please check out my facebook and instagram account for updates and for more high quality pictures visit my flickr stream. Contact through facebook.

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PEACE!

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