jungle tackle – use a net, safe a Peacock!

Landing a fish with a net is usually the safest way to do so and for the fish as well.
At least if the person on the net knows what he/she is doing…

With the following lines I’d like to explain why I think every Peacock Bass fishing camp should have nets on their boats ( and it’s probably the same for other fishing camps as well…).

Since I became a dedicated Peacock Bass fisherman I’ve been browsing the web almost daily for the latest photos from the jungle. What caught my eyes way too often is how badly these fish are presented. 20-pounders hanging at a LipGrip and if they are supported at the tail a big percentage is literally bent up to 90 degrees. Sometimes I almost feel how uncomfortable the fish in this position…
Plus I can’t imagine that it is healthy for the fish to hang with its full weight at its jaw. I heard stories from guides I met who told me that they even heard jaws breaking while trying to get a hold on the fish…

Of course, if one really wants protect the fish he/she shouldn’t fish at all. Maybe a snorkelling tour would do it. But then again I don’t think snorkeling in the amazon would be such afun idea plus I like fishing, watching a big Peacock Bass hit the topwater plug is an amazing experience in my eyes.
So if I do stress the fish at least I want to handle my catches with respect, like I have big respect for the rest of the nature too.
So why not treat fish with respect too since without them our passion wouldn’t be quite the same…

I observed it myself, when a big Peacock Bass is next to the boat and ready to land there are usually two possible scenarios:

  1. the landing is done wrong and the fish shakes the lure off…
  2. the fish gets fixed on its jaw with a lipgrip and shakes his locked head what doesn’t seem that healthy to me…

For this reason, before my departure to Colombia this january, I sent two nets to the camp since luggage is usually very limited on such trips. It wasn’t that cheap but I think it was worth it. After I introduced our guide on how to use this landing method it worked quite good.
Bigger fish were dragged over the net, could outpower themselves still in the water and while the fish was recovering there was time to prepare the camera. When everything was ready the lucky one took the fish out the net, a few pictures were taken, which shouldn’t take longer than a few seconds, before the fish got safely released. All that without dislocation the fish’s jaw or break anything else.

Plus the weighting of the fish can be done safely too. Remove the stick, close the net and hang it on the scale. Now you just subtract the weight of the net and you got the exact weight without hanging the fish on just one part. This might not work with all nets so later in this post I will present the net we used.

DSC_0603– how to properly weight a big Peacock Bass – fish in the wet net, digital scale on the net –

So you caught a real beast or even your new personal best and want to get some quality shots of it at the next beach? –  Transport your trophy (it’s still an animal, living creature) safely in the water with a net! I’ve seen too many videos where big Peacock Bass were caught, a few pictures were taken on the boat then they drive to the closest beach to get some more photos all while the fish was hanging on a lipgrip in the air for several minutes and sometimes it even falls into the boat… I can’t understand how one can treat a fish like this and I’m not sure how many or how less survive this harsh treatment. Anglers seem to have lost all respect for the nature just to get some ugly pictures in their speedos. If you really need such beach pictures please use a net! Like this the fish can be transported in the water without risking to hit its head in the boat plus it can breath too.

The nets I use are the “SavageGear Pro folding Rubber Mesh Landing Net XL“. In my opinion an excellent choice for big freshwater fish. I see various advantages:

  • large and deep: with 70x85cm plus the deepness it offers enough space for the fish.

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188– 12-13lb fish in the net –
(Photocreds: Housi)

  • rubber net: hooks can be removed easily and it least harms a fish’s skin.

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  • foldable: it can easily be stored in the boat and is quickly unfolded when a fish is on the line. The stick can be removed for a safe weighting of the catch.

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DSC_0028– easily stored and quickly ready –

  • quality: the net is well made and should endure several seasons even under rough conditions.

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You might think now “well that all sounds reasonable but what about the transport? Even though its foldable it won’t fit in most regular luggage which is already limited on such fishing trips anyway…”
I totally agree with you, as I mentioned at the beginning I had to send mine a few weeks before by postal service and you don’t want to know about the costs for such shipment from Switzerland to Colombia…

To come to a conclusion, I think its in the responsibility of the camps to equip all their boats with decent landing nets, the SavageGear one is just one of many appropriate options. Why? In the end the fish are a camps capital, without them they can close their business, so the fish should be treated accordingly. Big fish produce the future generations plus most clients do such trips in hope of catching the Big One!
It might cost something at the beginning but isn’t it worth the costs if several more big fish will survive?!
Equip your boats with nets and inform your guides AND the clients how to respectfully treat the fish. With the actual technic, good pictures can be taken quickly and with respectful treatment the fish will swim away with a minimum of harm afterwards.

Of course every fish (like every other creature) should be treated with respect and harmed as less as possible. In this article I mainly refer to Peacock Bass fishing because I’ve been on several such trips myself and wherever I went or saw pictures from the LipGrip seems to be the number one landing tool. I don’t want to talk bad about LipGrip, it’s a helpful tool when used properly. I just think that sometimes it should be used more careful regarding the fish’s health!

In this sense, think for the future and for the fish!

190– tired of taking pictures in the boat? – transport your catch in the net besides the boat until you reach your photospot –
(Photocreds: Housi)

Thanks for your time!
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PEACE!

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jungle tackle – basics

After several people asked me about the tackle I use on my latest Peacock Bass Bass trips, I decided to write an article about it.

First of all, I would like to state the following is all based on personal experience and preferences. When I was preparing for my first Peacock Bass trip, I mostly followed the advice of my fishing buddy Daniel who analyzed tons of articles in the internet around this topic. Since then I continuously updated my arsenal according to my newest findings after each trip. At the moment I am pretty happy with my line-up and hope to be able to put it in use again soon and then again and again and again… you probably got it! :)

Choosing the right tackle is all about preferences and of course depends on the species you  fish for and the techniques you use. There is not THE rod or THE reel, each angler has his own opinion about the perfect combo.  This article describes the tackle I use for targeting trophy Peacock Bass in the Brazilian and Colombian jungle, fishing all kind of artificial lures from big Woodchoppers to Deep Cranks.

Of course there are still some additions and changes I would like to make as well as new tackle I’d like to try out. Due to my actually very limited budget it takes some time till I saved up for something new and other stuff I just have to leave out for the moment. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the following lines!

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usual line-up for a day in the jungle for my buddy and me

Rods
One thing that fascinates me about Peacock Bass is their strength. As one of the hardest fighting freshwater fish, they require heavy tackle to bend them. After losing the first Big One to some trees or other cover you wish you had used a stronger rod than your med-heavy Bass-stick. Been there, done that. Choosing the right rod depends on the lure you want to fish. For Peacock Bass I mainly use three types of lures: topwater, jerkbaits and jigs.

  • Topwater – To make the steady animation of walk-the-dog(WTD)-lures and Woodchoppers as comfortable as possible I prefer short but heavy rods with a short grip end. Personally I wouldn’t go with a rod longer than 6’3”. If you are a tall guy, longer rods should work for you too due to the longer distance from arm to the water’s surface. More important than the length is definitely that the stick has enough power. Not just to rip the Chopper over the surface without almost breaking your rod but also because said lure is known for producing some of the biggest Peacock Bass ever caught.  So hold your rod tight and let the topwater spectacle begin!My actual topwater-rods: – Major Craft BNC-63XXH (Woodchopper) – Falcon Cara Peacock Bass CC-8-163H (Woodchopper, Big WTD) – Falcon Cara Peacock Bass CC-7-157H (WTD)
  • Jerkbait – Other than the topwater-lures, I often retrieve jerkbaits (5” – 8”) without animating them too much. What counts is speed. The same setup I us for cranks too, from shallow to deep runners. So length isn’t that important but strength still is!My actual jerkbait-rod: – Falcon Cara Peacock Bass CC-8-163H
  • Jigs – Compared to the rest of the lures I throw in the jungle rivers are jigs relatively light (1/2 – 5/8oz). In order to get them on distance I fish a Daiwa Zillion rod which is a bit longer than my other jungle sticks. It has enough power to set the hook properly and to fight also bigger fish without reaching its limits.My actual jig-rod: – Daiwa Zillion TDZL 661HFB

In general I recommend short but powerful rods. Short for an easy handling and heavy action for standing a chance against these brutal fighters. Actually there are not many rods known to me on the market that fulfill my requirements, most rods I’ve found are too long. One exception makes Falcon with their Peacock Bass series which quickly became my favorite rods. Unfortunately the brand discontinued the production of my favorite model, CC-8-163H, so I hope the two I own won’t break anytime soon or at least not before I found worthy replacements. Another issue for me is the money. there are several other rods I would like to test like the Deps Huge Customs but I just lack the money to buy them. At the moment I am happy with the rods I have but of course there is always something to improve and rods to add.

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did I mention that I like the Falcon Peacock rods?

Reels
Peacock Bass like it fast and hard, so chose your reels accordingly.
I fish reels with a ratio of 7.1:1 or faster, big line-capacity and which are strongly built.
A widely used classic is the Shimano Curado which I use myself. But my favorite is the Tatula HD from Daiwa. With its robust body and break it hasn’t let me down yet plus the deep spool allows to put on roughly 90-100m of 80lb braid. I also fish the JDM version of the Tatula HD which works a tic smoother but on the other hand feels a bit more delicate. For this reason I use the JDM version mostly for jigs  and for the rest I stick with the USDM type.
Other reels that might work:

  • Daiwa Aird Coastal (tested!)
  • Daiwa Coastal TWS
  • Daiwa Lexa 300 (tested!)
  • Daiwa Zillion several models
  • Shimano Calais (tested!)
  • Shimano Citica (tested!)
  • Shimano Calcuta (tested!)
  • Abu Garcia Revo Beast 7.1:1
  • Abu Garcia Revo Big Shooter Compact (tested!)
  • Okuma Komodo
  • and many more…

It may helpful to bring at least a screwdriver and some oil/grease to the jungle in case of an reel emergency. I already experienced it myself that the vibrations of the driving boat loosened the screws that keep my Tatula together…
Back home I take all used reels apart, clean and grease /oil them. Each time it surprises me hoch much dirt a single reel can collect in one week of fishing.

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Tatula cleaning

Line
Looking through the web I discovered that most sites recommend braided line between 40-60lb. I go a step further and fish on all my set-ups 80lb braid except for jigs and smaller topwater lures for which 70lb is spooled. So far I haven’t lost a single fish due to snapped line. I also haven’t noticed that the fish would care about the thick line. My lures get knotted directly to the line only using a swivel and splitring for the connection. Till now I haven’t used any leaders and probably won’t start anytime soon since I already heard sad stories from people who were sure that their leader is unbreakable. Using a leader means another knot which means another weak spot for the fish to break off. On one of my trips there was a guy who lost three big ones in one single afternoon, all because of broken leader or its knot. Make sure to check your line and knots from time to time. Contact with the heavy cover weakens even the strongest line. It is also important to have enough braid on the spool because a big Peacock Bass easily takes 10-20m line from the closed break in one run. All my reels are spooled with at least 90-100m Daiwa Samurai Braid and I am more than happy with the softness and strength of this line.

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heavy tackle and lures require heavy line! makes sense, doesn’t it?

Transport
One question I got asked a quite often is “how do you get all that stuff from Switzerland to South America?” Well, the transportation is an adventure for itself each time again but I can say that until now I luckily haven’t had any loses, delays or damages. Despite lots of anglers who use multiple piece rods, I use mostly one piece sticks which I pack into a Flambeau Bazooka tube. Safely wraped and locked, my rods have survived all flights in the past. My reels and tackleboxes I put in my luggage between layers of clothes. I try to pack as tight as possible to prevent my tackle from sliding around during the transport.

Outro
While some of you, appreciated readers, can use the one or anothe rtip from this post, others might think “he’s doing it all wrong” and that’s ok. I think everyone has its own tackle preferences and made its own experiences which led to them. This post describes how I do it and I hope it helps in some way preparing for an adventure you will remember for life.

 

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good tackle doesn’t guarantee you a catch but it makes fishing way more fun!

To all who are lucky enough to make such a trip I wish save travels and tons of fun. Always remember to smile! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my Facebook-page.

Thanks for reading!

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PEACE!