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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Tour de Tucunare – Colombia 2017

As I mentioned in the post before, I would have been devastated if I had to return to Switzerland after such a slow week that we had in Brazil this time. Fortunately this adventure just started and three more weeks were on the program.
In Manaus Daniel and I quickly packed up all our stuff and shortly afterwards headed to the airport. It took us another two flights to get to Bogota, Colombia where we had a few days to relax and visit the city. At first the high altitude plus the smog made every movement laborious but we still managed to visit some “important” spots.

DSC_0149– Bogota from above –

DSC_0203– Bolivar –

So, after a few days stumbling around this enormous city, it was finally time for the next round of Peacock Bass hunting! Together with Jan, our dear friend from Switzerland who joined us in Bogota, we flew to Puerto Inirida from where a boat brought us and the rest of the group for the week to our camp on the Rio Vichada. Because the anglers who fished the week before us would leave on the next day, we had to decided between tent or hammock and so I came to my first night in a hammock ever. It wouldn’t be the last such experience for a long time but more to this later.
An adventurous night later I was ready to finally catch some big Pavones as they call the Peacock Bass in Colombia. On the water, it took quiet some time until we got into some action but Daniel and I were already trained in being patient from the week before in brazil. Right before lunch I lost the first good sized fish in front of the boat. I still don’t know how but this fish managed to break off the screw which attached the prop and treble on the butt of my Highroller Riproller 7.5”. The lure was not one hour in use…
To not loose time, I decided to wait with tying on a new Chopper until lunch and fish an Imakatsu Trairao, rigged on another rod instead. A few casts in, a good one around 15lb inhaled the WTD lure. “Finally!” I thought to myself just seconds before I lost contact, the 80lb Daiwa Samurai Braid was cleanly cut.
As we discovered, grow the bigger Peacocks here small teeth able to cut line. So, if such a fish inhales a lure completely (which is more likely to happen with smaller baits) it gets difficult because as soon as the line touches a toothy part of the fish’s mouth it can easily break, which probably happened with my fish too.
What a harsh start into this trip but at least I already got some motivational action by noon. In the afternoon we didn’t find the real big ones neither but still both got some decent sized fish up to 8lb, what would have been an excellent result one week ago on the Kalua. Fortunately we had 14 full days of fishing ahead of us, 14 opportunities to catch monster Peacock Bass of which we dreamed since we left Colombia almost exactly one year ago.

DSC_0228– Daniel seemed to like his new PBT shirt –

On day two our guide Daniel (yes, two Daniels on the boat so I will call my fishing buddy by his nickname “Housi” for the rest of this report) took us to a lagoon which was already dried out when we were there last year. While Daniel was negotiating the entry fee with the Indians to which this lagoon belongs, I played around with my Wide Glide 200 which I bought a week earlier in Manaus. I just couldn’t resist the stunning discount of a full dollar! Jokes besides, when Housi brought one of these with him the last year I just laughed, I was too fixed on my Highroller Riprollers aka Chopper which in my eyes were the best thing ever made. This time I was going for the biggest, meanest Peacock Bass in the river so I wanted to step up a size. So I was making my first casts with this 20cm surface glidebait to see how it works and totally unexpected I got the first fish of the day on my third cast. What a cool start in the day, this lure definitely won my attention!

DSC_0233 – first fish for the R2S Wide Gilde 200F and the Deps Huge Custom 6’2”-

This catch motivated me to spend throwing this lure all day long which resulted in some nice fish while the fishing overall stood tough. Till the evening I brought around 10 fish in the boat ranging from over-motivated 3-pounders to nice fish in the 13lb-class plus several good ones that spit out the heavy lure.

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DSC_0249 – respect the creatures of mother nature –

The following days didn’t go as promising as we were hoping due to the not ideal conditions of waterlevel, weather, moon and others. Of course we kept fishing anyway and landed some well sized fish but the real trophies didn’t seem too motivated…

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DSC_0274– rainstorms occured on a daily basis, it could get nasty quickly –

After a few days fishing the lagoons around the camp, we, Housi, Jan and me plus our guides, decided to try our luck up river where we found some promising spots in the past year. Our host bought a simple house in the village up there which was our base camp for the coming days. The house basically consists of not much more than four walls and a  simple sheet roof with an improvised kitchen where also shower ans toilet are located. Since there is no more furniture than a small table and a few plastic chairs we had to sleep in hammocks again. Which isn’t the worst place to sleep if it wasn’t for the village’s dogs which kept loudly communicating with their friends all night long. When one finally fell asleep, the peace usually didn’t hold on longer than until our cook started her work at 4am sharp. So much for the “vacation” part of this trip but, at least I, didn’t make my way to the jungle for sleeping anyway :).

DSC_0382– Housi and Jan waiting for breakfast –

With a new starting point came new motivation and Housi and I told about the honey hole we found last year a few minutes from the village. With great anticipation we entered the lagoon but after fishing all the good points we hadn’t seen much fish and it didn’t get better the following hours after. The conditions didn’t seem right up here too and while leaving we discovered a possible reason, water was coming in what resulted in rising water levels. The next spot seemed the same as last year – dead! So the next few days we spent searching new lagoons via satellite view on an offline map on the smartphone. Fallen trees were worked out of the way, the boats pushed through almost no water and new waters conquered but the fish didn’t seem that hungry or the lagoons were already too dry. We even sent locals to up river to check water levels only to find a dried out lagoon the next day anyway.

DSC_0318– one of the few fish from our hotspot from last year –

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DSC_0289– the search for new lagoons resulted in interesting conversations with the locals –

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DSC_0469– even though the fish didn’t seem ready, my tackle was! –

After this fiasko for which we drove over 2 hours by boat one way we decided on a known lagoon of which we knew it had fish and water in it. We visited the lagoon from day two where I “discovered” the Wide Glide 200 and have been fishing it often whenever the conditions seemed right. To make the story of this short, it still seemed to be working. In the morning I caught a 13lber and a 15lber within ten minutes and another nice one around 13lb later that day. A welcome change after the last few days being kind of tough.

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So the supplies got shorter and shorter and after a few days there was no more bottled drinking water available in the whole village what forced us to live off entirely of Coca Cola, Gatorde and beer which sounds like way more fun than it actually was. Before we had to hunt and dig for water, our host had another fishing boat bring us supplies to the lagoon where we both were supposed to fish this day. This delivery turned out to be way more intense than such a simple task usually goes. When we arrived at the mouth of the lagoon we were greeted with insults by the fisherman on the other boat. This because he had to wait for us for about 5-10 minutes. We quickly moved the goods in our boat and let the furious idiot enter the lagoon. Since we found him fishing the first of three lakes shortly afterwards we decided to head straight for the second one which he wanted to do as well when he saw us. We offered him that we would fish there for about half an hour and then move to another spot leaving him with all three lakes. But he didn’t seem that pleased and started shouting at us things like “get out of MY lagoon”, “I paid for fishing here, these are MY spots” or my favorite “you came here to colonise Colombia, MY country!”. The amusing part ended abruptly when he started waving around with a machete but he calmed down quickly when he was offered to clear this with a fistfight ashore. He sat down sulky and we decided to leave him with HIS spots for which he paid… as we did of course but he seemed to forget that. Anyway, at the end we should be the lucky ones while the immature giant-baby caught almost nothing that day, as we later were told. Daniel drove us to a spot nearby and suddenly I saw several blow ups a few hundred meters in front of us. Of course we had to try to find those fish and to my surprise we did only minutes after the observed action. One of the pack bite my Riproller but got off in front of the boat. I saw several double digit fish following their friend and we he got off I pitched the tangled up lure a few meters, twitched it a bit and the biggest fish (an estimated 18lber) of the group came up from below and ate it straight away. At the same time Housi hooked one two and now we tried to land two well sized fish with one net-job. Mine got off a few moments later and while reeling in the lure another, smaller fish hit the Riproller again but finally shook it off before getting in the net. So in total I had three fish on but landed none while Housi had one which he landed. Life can be unfair in so many ways but this was such a spectacular action that couldn’t be angry for long but appreciated the experience instead. At least I have the whole action on GoPro. On our way to the lunch spot we stopped at one particular spot and stood there a bit longer than planned. It might sound crazy but we probably hit the perfect moment because Housi landed during 40 minutes a fish with each single cast!!! I caught my fish too but experimented with several topwaters before turning to a midwater lure which was a guaranty for fish in this case. We weren’t catching trophy Peacocks but still fun to catch fish between two and five pounds. We were sure that there had to be some bigger ones around as well and before we finally left for lunch, Housi made one cast with a bigger Glider what resulted in another 13 pounder. What an unbelievable day or at least morning! In the afternoon we found a few more fish what rounded up this pretty good day.

DSC_0442 – good one on the Riproller before leaving –

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The fishing kept being tough so our guide decided to try one last joker. We visited a local indian tribe and asked for permission to fish their lagoon for the coming day. In the past they always refused entrance to everybody but after a discussion with Daniel and some money, the chief agreed to let us fish there the next day if he could join us on the boat. Since we never had the intent to betray anybody we picked him up early the next morning and started fishing. Until noon a few spots produced good action and Jan even caught a fat 16 pounder.

DSC_0445– FangBait fish in the morning  – 

The real magic started after lunch when our new friend told us to keep fishing one particular spot where the fish would come every single day to feed. So for the next few hours we fished one particular spot of maybe 50x150m over and over. First we thought we were dreaming because what happened seemed so far from reality. Every 5-10 minutes somebody of the three of us caught a fish in the 8-12lb range with a few fish up to 16lb. Sometimes all three had fish on at the same time, Jan even had a doubleheader on his jerkbait twice and this action held on for hours. From time to time we took a break until on of us decided to catch another fish and BAM! caught one on the first cast. Even our guides had to admit that they haven’t seen something like this ever before. Maybe with smaller fish from 1-3lbs but never with fish in this size.

190– good one on the Riproller in the afternoon –

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It felt so unreal and I kept fishing like a maniac with hopes for THE big one to show up. So I decided to put myself apart of the rest and changed my jerkbait for my new friend, the Wide Glide! Jan was still laughing when something big crushed my lure in front of his boat! Finally in the net the scale showed something over 16lbs! “That’s what I’m talking about!” Not the 20 pounder I was hoping for but nevertheless a stunning Peacock Bass!

DSC_0452– of course the camera had to be on the wrong settings for the biggest one… –

DSC_0492– battle scars –

This crazy action endured until sunset when we had to return to the village and left a unforgettable memory in our minds! What a day!

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– beautiful colors on this one –

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– power of pink –

After these action-packed days we stumbled upon Johnny Hoffmann and his crew at lunch. Because they wanted to film we were denied access to the lagoon we planned on fishing in the afternoon. Since our supplies were almost used up again and some of our group were unmotivated due a lack of sleep, we decided to drive down to the camp.

DSC_0486– good one from the morning –

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DSC_0496– another one on the Wide Glide on the way back –

DSC_0548– back in the camp –

The next day we returned to the indian lagoon where the magic happened two days ago because we promised so to the chief of this village. We still caught a bunch of fish but compared to our first visit the end result wasn’t nearly as stunning as last time.

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DSC_0540– Borboleta –

Housi and Jan then decided to leave two days earlier for Puerto Inirida due tiredness and a lack of motivation to fish the same lagoons around the camp again. So for the last two days I was on my own, fishing alone with Daniel. We invited Nano, our guy for everything in the camp and friend, to join us on the boat which he happily accepted. I decided to concentrate on my old favourite, the mighty Highroller Riproller, which provided some fun action through the last days of this amazing trip despite losing a really big fish on the very last cast!

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DSC_0623– the almost perfect shot –

DSC_0625– and now the whole fish –

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DSC_0676 – trees. i like trees –

DSC_0698– fishing till the moon rises –

DSC_0700– time to pack my stuff –

Even though the 20lber didn’t happen this time it was still another amazing trip which I hopefully will remember for the rest of my life. To experience all this nature around is always impressive! One more time I am very thankful for another successful adventure. May many more follow in the future! Thank you to all that made this trip possible, until next time!

If you made it till here I’d like to thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed this report!

DSC_0684– PBTworldwide –

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PEACE!

Tour de Tucunare – Brazil 2017

Last year, when I returned from the Rio Vichada in Colombia, I was sure that I have to return to this river. When my school year didn’t go as planned, it opened up possibilities for another fishing trip. Together with my fishingbuddy Daniel aka Housi we put together a promising adventure and so, for the rest of the year, I worked my ass off to finance those long awaited weeks.
To make the long, uncomfortable flights from Europe to South America worth it, we decided to stay a bit longer than on the trips before. What we exactly did you will find out in the following lines…

We started our trip with a week in Brazil on the famous barco hotel “Kalua”. Long before our arrival in Manaus, Brazil, we knew the conditions probably won’t be very good. Unstable water levels limited the choice of the rivers and reports of trips before ours didn’t sound promising neither. Despite the bad outlook we visited two of the Sucuri Pesca stores shortly after finally arriving in Manaus. I planned on buying plenty of my favourite chopper-lure, the Highroller Riproller 7.5inch, since I used up the few I had last year in Colombia. But both stores didn’t have any Highrollers in stock, the explanation of the sales staff was simple “we just sold so many…”. Hmm, so how about ordering some more?! Compared to our last visit 2 years ago, both shops were scarcely stocked and most of the lures I wanted seemed sold out since longer. The staff didn’t seem to care much and tried to sell me some cheap Chinese knock-offs instead…
Fortunately we both already brought too many lures with us so the failed shopping tour didn’t bother me too much and a short night later we were headed back to the airport to get to Barcelos. On the Kalua, the tackle was quickly prepared and I couldn’t wait to make to first casts. We ended up on the Rio Demini, the only river around with dropping water levels but an unexpected ton of mosquitos.

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Finally on the water, we had not just to find the fish but also the few available spots. Other operators chose the same river and so around 20 fishing boats ended up casting around in the same area, most of them without much success. At the end of day one, Daniel and I had each one small Peacock Bass around 4lb to tell about which wasn’t even a bad result compared to the other 14 anglers on the Kalua.

Full of motivation we started the second day which is quickly told, zero! Not one single Tucunare wanted to bite if there were even fish around, we weren’t so sure. There was no action on the surface and the temperatures of water and air were surprisingly cool.

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Our guide for the week, Carlinho, put in a lot of effort to bring us to some fish. So one morning we spent around two hours cutting our way through heavy reeds until we landed in a promising lagoon.

DSC_0019– “so where’s the lagoon?” –

DSC_0033 – “hold on, I got this” –

After figuring out the working patterns, we caught around 40 Peacocks. Not the big ones we were looking for but still fun after catching almost nothing the days before. With a nice 8lb Acu, Daniel got the biggest fish of the day. At the end of the week his catch was announced as biggest fish of the trip out of 16 anglers. Yes, fishing was that bad!

DSC_0036– biggest fish of the trip, 8lb –

DSC_0043– about the average –

Fortunately we can’t see into the future and so we got up each morning, ready to catch some monsters! Carlinho even organised a chainsaw to get into a hidden Lagoon. After cutting several fallen trees in half, pulling the boat through a drying out creek and battling angry wasps, we finally made it!

DSC_0078– secret entrance –

DSC_0086– working hard –

DSC_0089– the other guides seemed to have big hopes in this lagoon too –

Excitement quickly came up when our guide discovered an Arapayma breathing on the surface. Of course we tried all kind of lures to catch it but the mystical fish disappeared as quick as it came up a few minutes earlier. This was already more or less the highlight of the day because we didn’t get any bites except from those damn bugs! Our guide, guided by the guide of the guides, even made the extra effort and moved away some more trees to get us into the secret part of this lagoon. We didn’t see any fish there but were still very lucky when, on the way out, I discovered a scorpion behind Carlinho’s ear just in time to remove it before it could do any damage. After leaving this promising but empty hole of water, we spent the rest of the afternoon fishing the main river where at least we found some smaller but hungry fish.

DSC_0046– Arowana on topwater are fun too –

The rest of the week we concentrated our fishing on beaches and pocket in the river itself where we found a bit bigger fish than the usual Popocas but fishing remained tough. We had to downsize our lures and I even had to lay away my Highrollers and Woodchoppers and fish midwater baits instead in order to catch at least something.

027– that feeling when you finally land a “bigger” one –

DSC_0059– Miami style –

DSC_0066– at least the Piranhas were nicely sized –

DSC_0054– Peacock on lipless crank –

DSC_0064– my biggest of the week with around 7lb –

The only thing that could be found at each spot at any time was a massive amount of mosquitos and sandflies. Wherever we went, these suckers found us within minutes.
Despite all this negativity, we kept casting but instead of catching fish we talked some senseless sh*t to keep us laughing and enjoyed the impressive beauty of the rainforest around us.

DSC_0134– find the beach –

Before getting back to Barcelos, where our stay on the Kalua ended, we fished the Rio Negro. The water was still way too high and the beaches, which offer great spots for big Peacock Bass, were all under water. The whole morning I was hoping for the lucky punch that would conclude this week but in the end I got one blow-up on the Woodchopper. The 5lb Paca was then caught by Daniel on the following cast with a jerkbait…

Fortunately there were two more weeks of fishing waiting for us in Colombia. With this in mind I could easily accept this bad first week without getting too disappointed. I don’t want to think about how I would have felt if I had to return to Switzerland the next day…

DSC_0116– Kalua and its supply boat on the left –

DSC_0077 – Luau aka BBQ on the beach. I definitely never went to bed hungry on this trip! –

The fishing might have been slow during this week but I can’t say anything bad about our mothership aka Kalua. Everything left a well organised impression, from the pick-up at the airport to the transport back to the hotel after returning from  the jungle. The barco hotel itself is equipped with everything necessary plus some luxury like AC, fridge with cold drinks around the clock and even satellite TV for the telenovela for breakfast :) The staff, like our guide, worked hard every day to make all aboard happy. Besides the fishing and the thousands of bites that covered my body, this week was a success and probably one of the most luxurious vacations I’ve been on until now.
In this sence, a huge THANK YOU/OBRIGADO to the whole Kalua crew!

After some rest in Manaus, we continued our journey with more flights to Panama and from there to Colombia where we hoped for the big ones! How the following weeks went you will be able to read in the next post coming soon!

Thanks for reading!

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PEACE!

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!

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!

Lost in the Everglades

During December 2015 I got the chance to escape the cold, depressing winter weather of Switzerland and spent two weeks in the Sunshine State better known as Florida.
Since it was a family vacation I couldn’t completely focus on fishing but I took every chance to wet a line.
We stood in a house in Cape Coral with direct access to the canal system, close to the sea. Sure there would be nice saltwater fishing with the right tackle but I wanted to catch some largemouth bass!
Long before this trip I contacted Anthony Hunt aka 5oz for a guiding on Lake Okeechobee. I learned about him over the internet and thought he might be cool to fish with. So a few days after my arrival in Florida we fixed a date and I already started dreaming of all the big, fat bass I would catch on this day.
Since nobody in my family, except me, is really crazy about fishing I had to organize myself a car and hotel to realize this trip. Full of hope to catch some giants I didn’t care too much about all the extra costs (which btw. minimized my sneaker budget drastically) for this adventure. I found myself at 3am on the freeway towards Miami. The evening before Anthony recommended to change the location from Okeechobee to a canal system in the Everglades. So I was driving on the freeway, supposed to meet my guide at a boat ramp of one the recreations spots along the street.
That’s where this adventure started to get frustrating for the first time because I couldn’t find our meeting point. the GPS whch came with my rental, for an extra charge of course, suddenly stopped in the middle of nowhere, telling me that I reached my destination. Said recreation area wasn’t in sight at all. The friendly guy at the next gas station couldn’t help me neither so I kept driving up and down with the hope to stumble across Anthony by chance. I didn’t have his number to contact him and a bassboat wasn’t in sight neither. After over an hour of meaningless driving I remembered the only option I had left, activate data roaming on my smartphone to text my guide on facebook and also to find our meeting point with the help of google maps. Thanks to my swiss phone contract, this were a few minutes of very prices internet fun but it was the only shot I had to finally get some bass!
Fortunately, Anthony was still around the ramp where we were supposed to meet about 1.5 hours ago. Finally on the water, we didn’t lose any more time and started throwing big weightless worms into the heavy cover. Soon I got the first bites and brought a few smaller bass into the boat. I even caught a pike, something I didn’t expect at all in Florida.

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The vast vegetation gave me the opportunity to try out a technique I had only seen in videos before, Punching. With Anthony’s instructions I quickly learned the basics and even missed a few bites at least. The reason I wanted to fish with a guide was to expand my bassfishing knowledge and with mr. 5oz I found a guy that definitely taught me a few things which help me to understand the bass a little more.

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The bass themselves didn’t seem to want me learning, despite two times changing the canal we couldn’t find the right way to convince a big mama or her little sister, cousin whatever to inhale our lures… With a 2 pounder I caught the biggest fish of the day, not really what I was looking for but still better than nothing. Again I remembered why we call it fishing and not catching. Some days the bass just don’t want to play…

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Tired and a little disappointed of this strange day I had to find my hotel and something to eat. The holiday traffic combined with an exhausted me made this simple task another tiring adventure. Finally arrived at the hotel, a dilapidated complex with strange people walking around, the bed had a magical attraction to me. The next day I visited the closest BassPro to get me some Highrollers for my next trip to the amazon before I drove back to my family. Gone was my big chance to catch a trophy bass and the whole experience wasn’t really a piece of cake. On the other hand I still learned something, got to fish on a bassboat and all that under the sun while it was freezing cold back home. Truly not the result I was hoping for, I’d rather show you some nice fishpics instead of writing all the things that went wrong, but I guess it was just not meant to be this time. Thanks to Anthony Hunt for an interesting day on the water and the amazing sub :) Hit him up if you want to experience some bassfishing in Florida, I’m sure he can organize something cool for you. http://anthonyhuntfishing.com

Following a few impressions of the fishing in our backyard, from time to time I got some action on small jigs or topwater. After I caught the first puffer fish my father, brother and his homie joined me with some frozen bait and got a few contacts as well. Good times!

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Guess who had the pleasure to unhook all their catches…

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Last but not least a HUGE THANKS to my parents for making this vacation happen and all the unforgettable moments we had together!

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Thanks for your time, I hope you enjoyed it!

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

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Stay tuned for more, the next adventure is already waiting! PEACE!

What happened with the cuban Bass?

Whenever I heard about Cuba, I instantly thought about fishing. The owner of our local tackle store here used to tell me about huge bass and enormous lakes covered in lily pads.

So when my friend Daniel asked me to join him and Matteo, another fishing buddy of mine, there wasnt much to think about. So, the few months before this trip I spent again scraping up money and begging for vacation days.

In the internet we didn’t find much information about fishing in Cuba. The reports I hit upon are dated years back and aren’t really positive. I remember reading a report of a guy who was more than disappointed after one or even two weeks of fishing there. I didn’t pay much attention to that anyway and was already dreaming of landing the new world record largemouth bass. Yeah, I was that hyped about it and couldn’t imagine any bad fishing in Cuba. I live in Switzerland, where fishing is kind of fucked up and boring in my opinion, so everything should be better than here. Especially if there’s a rumor of big, fat bass.

So with these high expectations in mind I again ordered more lures, apparel and camera accessories. In the end, we arrived at the airport with over 100kg of luggage, mostly tackle. We knew there wouldn’t be much options to buy tackle so we had to just bring it all. It can be frustrating when you figure out a successful pattern and then run out of this certain lure or terminal tackle.

Our plan was to fly down to Holguin, CU, rent a car, drive from lake to lake, catch big bass, learn about Cuba by experiencing it and just have a good time. But as always, it didn’t come quite as excepted, Luckily we didn’t know that before and so we started our promising trip in late June in Lugano, CH from where we were driven to the airport in Milano, IT. Thanks again to Matteo’s father for the ride!

So let the journey begin!


 

21.6. – Around 10pm we finally arrive at the airport of Holguin after a short stopover in Havana. Tired we make it to our hotel “El Bosque”, a touristic hotel including a car rental office where we booked our car for the coming weeks. Two pizzas later I literally fall asleep while standing in front of my bed.

22.6. – The day starts early at around 4am. Daniel can’t sleep anymore and so he decides to wake us up with some loud cuban TV. A few sleepy hours later we make our way to the city center to change money, not like normal tourists by taxi but by a buy which is on its way to drop off workers at their factories. A different but cool experience. Back in the hotel we finally get our car after hours of waiting and negotiating. So we drive to a huge, older hotel complex called “Tunas” in Las Tunas, the only place in this region with an “Ecoturism” office. The plan is to organize some fishing at the famous Lago Leonero but it isn’t as easy as expected. When we finally meet the boss of this office he instantly tells us that fishing at Leonero would be be a bad idea during this time of the year. We don’t want to believe and ask him to arrange a guide anyway. But nobody’s reachable at the time, so we just can wait. We continue our trip to Puerto Padre where we find a room in a Casa Particular and a local who promises to take us fishing on his boat the next day.

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23.6. – We get up at 6am, pick up our guide and drive to the harbor nearby. There the port waiter forbids our new friend take us out and recommends us to go back. Angry about this decision our friend takes us fishing on foot along the shore. Till noon we made a respectable tour but without any fish contact. The ruthless sun forces us to take a break and after some chats with the locals we drive back to the “Ecoturism” office. Finally we reach one of the guides at Leonero and organize a trip for the coming day. Again we decide to stay in a Casa Particular, the closest option to the lake. The word of three fishermen spreads quickly and soon the so called “president” of the local bass club arrives in our room to chat. We change some lures for some of his stories which make us looking positively forward to the next day.

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24.6. – “The early bird catches the fish” and so we find ourselves heading to Leonero at around 4am. On the way we pick up our guide who shows us the troublesome way to the lake. A few hours later we reach the point where our car just can’t get through anymore, the road is just too muddy. But no problem, we’re in Cuba. Our guide simply calls a friend in the nearby factory who gives us a ride in his tractor to the Leonero Lodge. It’s past 11am when we get in the boat.
Here has to be added that the lodge has three boats, two of them are out of service and the last drives slower than a 8PS despite the installed 40PS engine. The problem with these ran down boats is that it’s almost impossible to get spare parts to fix them due to the actual import laws in Cuba. 
Lago Leonero is a huge lake, scope almost 80km, mostly covered in lily pads and overgrown islands. We fish hard and try all kinds of techniques, we just couldn’t believe to not catch any fish at all. Almost collapsing under the tough sun we have to return empty handed. The guide then explains that since a few years the bass got strong competition from a plague called “Claria”. A ugly looking catfish with never ending appetite. In addition we see locals covering large zones with nets, fishing for tilapias. Our guide means that nowadays bassfishing only works during the spawning period when they meet at certain spots to feed. As would this disappointment not be enough we now have walk back to our car. When we finally reach our car, the sun glooming on us, the thermometer stops at 43 celsius. Perfect conditions for a hike, wasn’t it?!

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25.6. – After this first, disappointing bass experience in Cuba the “Ecoturism” guy advices us to try out sea fishing. Se we drive to Santa Cruz del Sur where we spend the afternoon chatting with locals. They try to organize some fishing for us but again the local authorities refuse to let us onto the ocean.

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26.6. – The only way for tourists to go fishing seems to be in the touristic areas. So we head toward Cayo Coco, a touristic island connected to the main island with a road through the sea. During the drive we check out several potential lakes but we always end up with locals telling us the bass were already eaten by Clarias. Finally on Cayo Coco, we need several tries to find the local “Ecoturism” office. After another Claria story about the lakes around here we book some sea trips and nights in the hotel “Colonial”, one of the massive hotel complexes. Entering this resort was like stepping into another world, the days before we where happy to find some bottle water and a place to sleep. Suddenly there was plenty of everything, huge buffets, bars and of course ignorant tourists. It made me think a lot…

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27.6. – Today’s plan, guided shore fishing on foot. Soon I observe my first barracuda ever shaking off my spoon, damn! Throughout the day all of us catch some small barracudas, Daniel lands even a small grouper. We even wade along the mangroves but I soon abort this action. It’s too scary to not catch any fish at all. My highlight is definitely the barracuda that shoots out a hole under me, tears my hooked baby GT apart and ends up eating the head including my Deps Ganoblade Spoon. A short but violent fight later I land my biggest barracuda so far. The rest of the day we mostly spend fighting mosquitos or baby barracudas.

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28.6. – First day fishing inshore from a boat with guide. We fish beautiful pieces of mangroves. Full of hope I tie on a brand new Salmo Slider I bought for this trip. In front of the boat we get to see how a huge barracuda, way over 120cm, hits the lure aaand it’s gone, fish and lure. Except a handful annoying baby barracudas not much happens anymore and so we round up the day with snorkeling.

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29.6. – Second day on the sea but this time we want to try it offshore, catching fish out the riffs. Definitel not my day, when we arrive on the spot I already feel miserable and a few moments later I find myself feeding the fish. Seems like I stick with bass fishing in the future, on lakes not the wavy open sea. While I recover in the hotel, Daniel and Matteo catch a few snappers and groupers but it’s still not the great fishing we hoped for.

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30.6. – La Rotenda is a lagoon out side Cayo Coco that was cut off from the sea during the construction of a road. Once this lake was home to huge bass, now it hosts carps and huge tarpons. Our guide means that the bass were exterminated by the locals and adds that the tarpons are really shy due to the fishing pressure, flies would be the only thing still working. We try it anyway with our baitcasters and lures. The tactic is simple, spot them, overcast them and catch them. But being targeted day after day, these fish aren’t dumb and usually get our tricks quickly. The few that bite, shake off the lures immediately. And so goes another interesting but frustrating day by.

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1.7. – Through the “Ecoturism” guy we learn about our last hope for bass, a lake far away that still has lots of largemouths in it and even better, barely Clarias yet. So we drive to Valencia and after a rich lunch we start fishing. Soon the first problem appears, the boat engine dies constantly after a few minutes in work. This and heavy winds doesn’t make our mission easier. Late in the afternoon, we haven’t caught a fish yet, I get a bite. I’m not sure if this can be possible but a few moments later I land a bass!!! With 25cm not really what we are targeting but at least my first cuban bass and the one and only largemouth bass of this trip! A few minutes later we discover a group of locals with nets full of tilapias and of course bass. This despite the statement of our guide that here no commercial fishing happens. In the evening the only local hotel denies us access due to our non-cuban nationality and so we drive back to the closest city, Moron.

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2.7. – Bored we walk around the city in the morning. Daniel then makes friends with a local that shows us around and I end up with three new tattoos. The evening we spend with friendly locals exploring Moron’s nightlife.

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3.7. -From Moron we head to Santa Lucia, a calm place at the coast. We find accommodation next to the beach and spend the rest of the day enjoying the easy life around us.

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4.7. – In the morning we fish along the wonderful coast. We don’t see any fish but the scenery makes up for this poor result. Around noon it finally happens, one of the tires has enough of the potholes and bursts. After fixing this problem we relax at the nearby beach.

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5.7. The day of my return has arrived. Daniel and Matteo stay another week but I have to go back due to a lack of vacation days and money. The flight happens without problems ans so I find myself back at the airport in Milano. Without the hoped-for bass pictures but with unforgettable impressions and memories.

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Conclusion

Fishing in Cuba sucks, at least at he places we went to. According to several sources it used to be outstanding years ago before the Claria got introduced. In hotels and restaurants we discovered evidence to these stories in form of replicas and pictures of huge bass, biggest I saw went 18lb but all caught years ago.

One of the main problems seems to be the Claria. This asian, african hybrid was introduced to Cuba to feed the hungry during the “Special Period”. It can survive almost everywhere, up to three days out the water, spreads quickly and eats everything, puppies, birds as well as all kinds of fish. This catfish are said to not even taste good and we met farmers that even don’t feed it to their pigs because afterwards their meat tastes like this fish. At the moment the Clarias seem to have overtaken most of Cuba’s freshwater and a solution isn’t in sight yet.

The poverty in Cuba doesn’t help the largemouth bass there neither. Since it’s a daily struggle for a lot of Cubans to provide food for their families, they have not many other options than to empty their lakes as well as the reachable sea spots. Even though they usually fish for tilapias they have to take what’s catchable and so, many bass end up in the kitchen too.

These factors in addition to the poor infrastructure doesn’t promise a great future for Cuba’s sport fishing industry. Informations are hardly available and the few touristic fishing organizations that exist are poorly equipped. With luck you get a semi-functional boat and the only tackle available are some left behinds from tourists.
In a country where a big part of it’s revenue comes from tourism, these conditions have to change in order to have a future in this business.

These are just my thought and observations based on my experiences during my stay in Cuba. I surely have seen just a small part of this beautiful island. Great fisheries might still exist out there, I just haven’t come across it yet. It has to be added that we didn’t hit the perfect time period and bass should still be catchable during the right times at the right spots. Anyway, it definitely isn’t the big bass paradise it used to be years ago according to the locals.

Besides the lack of bass I enjoyed my time in the Caribbean to the fullest. To live with the locals and get their points of view was and enriching experience. Seeing them always happy and helpful despite their daily struggle to survive gave me a valuable lesson and made me think a lot. From the depths of my heart I wish their situation soon changes to the better without loosing the beauty and richness of their precious island. Cubans are without a doubt one of the greatest people I’ve met so far!

Gracias por todo Cuba!

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Thanks for your time, I hope you enjoyed it!

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