I just returned from a 5-week fly fishing adventure in the Amazon Rainforest, courtesy of Agua Boa Amazon Lodge and Sweetwater Travel Company. This fishery has always been on my radar, but this was the first time that all the stars aligned for me to make the trip. And what a trip it was! A true kaleidoscope of experiences at one of the best fishing lodges in the world. Here is a virtual sampler of the action from the Equator:
The launching point for the adventure is the capital of the state of Amazonas, Manaus. Located at the confluence of two huge rivers, the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes, Manaus is the nominal head of the Brazilian Amazon.
Hopping a Cessna Caravan and flying north out of Manaus, the transition from city of 2 million to untracked jungle is rather abrupt.After about a 2-hour flight into one of the world’s last great wilderness regions, the first view of the Rio Agua Boa quickens the pulse. Unlike typical Brazilian “black-water” rivers where blind-casting with big lures is the norm, here the fishing is 100% fly fishing, and sight-fishing opportunities abound for the legendary “Tucunare Asu,” known to the outside world as trophy peacock bass.
The lodge is very comfortable, located right on the river, and surprisingly devoid of mosquitoes. The acidity of the river doesn’t support larval growth, and therefore, Malaria, while endemic to the region as a whole is not found here. That isn’t to say that there are no insects here. This is the jungle after all. A little caution (and some DEET) around dawn and dusk helps prevent discomfort from the no-see-ums, as an unlucky angler, who chose to wear shorts on the first evening in camp, learned the hard way. But no-see-ums aside, you never knew what creepy-crawly would emerge into the light at any given time. Here are some of the cool bugs that showed up:
Then of course there are the birds. This place is truly a birdwatcher’s paradise. Even a rank amateur like me racked up nearly 50 new species for my life list. Toucans, macaws, storks, and some super weird stuff too. Like this one, the hoatzin, which eats only leaves, has a predigestive fermentation chamber in it’s gut (like a cow) and thus smells like cow manure. And they’re known to be social.Here are some more shots of just a few of the awesome birds:
And of course the jungle is replete with incredible critters of all stripes. . . and spots!
But of course, what most draws anglers to the Agua Boa, when all is said and done, is the incredible fishing. The Amazon Basin as a whole hosts more unique fish species than the Atlantic Ocean. With 4 species of peacock bass, several species of piranha, dozens of species of catfish, plus arawana, giant arapaima, oscars, dogfish, traiera, stingrays of all sizes and colors. . . an angler’s mind is truly boggled by the diversity of fish. One literally can’t so much as glance in the river without seeing fish of some sort.
And one thing that truly sets this fishery apart, is the quality of the guide staff. Hired from local villages, these guys are totally in their element on the water. And yet, they are truly world-class professional fly fishing guides, skilled and versed in the game of big-game angling. Here is a sampling of the incredible fish and the guides and anglers who love them:
Special Thanks to Taff Price and Carlos Azevedo for use of photos and for spiritual guidance.