Friday, February 12, 2016

Agua Boa Lodge 2016: More Photos from the Amazon

I decided to post a ton of photos from this years Amazon trip so it's going to take a few days to do so. I'll post expanded captions as a way of explaining some of the better moments of which there were many. I hope you enjoy them.

Dawn on the Agua Boa River. It's cool and calm.

This giant Amazonian otter had recently killed a 10 lb. peacock bass. We didn't know this when we spotted the otter, but we thought it odd that he refused to leave the area and hung around near our boat while we fished the bank. We were later to learn this fully grown male (approx. 75 lbs.) was guarding an important prize. We finally saw the big peacock on shore hidden under a log jam. An eagle had its eye on the fish too and watched every move the otter made.

Tim Lee and Brian Haberstock headed downriver heat starts to fill the morning air

John Riggs probes with a popper

Almost invisible bats
Self portrait

Dog fish

 Caimen magic: Now you see the popper... you don't! 
Catch and release caiman popper fish may be the most fun you can have fishing, I guess you would call it crocodiling.


One afternoon, Peter Greenleaf and I caught over 60 borboleta peacocks from 2-7 lbs. on a small shallow, lago! The piranha were a constant nuisance. I lost a sink tip to one, but the fun we had was worth the loss. Simply spectacular!!

Joseph catching some tasty matrichan off the dock on pieces of apple.


In case I forget as I post these photos, my thanks to all my fellow trip members! We had a great time and some great fishing despite the low water. To Peter Greenleaf, Jim Young, Nancy Keil, Doug Jeffries, Scott Sawtelle, Anna and John Riggs, Brian Haberstock, "Pops" Bahorich, Tim Lee and Dan "Twig" Smith... you all were a pleasure to be with. To our guides Caboco, Preto, Samuel, Pedro, Bacaba, Joseph, our hosts Charlie and Carlos and the many people behind the scenes that makes this great lodge work, many many thanks.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Amazon: Agua Boa Lodge 2016

Lining up on the runway at the lodge

Last Saturday, our annual adventure to the Amazon concluded and we all reluctantly began to make our way home. For this year's trip, our water conditions were far different than in past years and alas, far from perfect. Unfortunately, Brazil is in the middle of a drought due to El Nino and the Agua Boa River was as low as it has been in the last 20 years... certainly the lowest I have ever seen it! In addition to the low water, we also had unusually windy days.

Scott Sawtelle with a big 14 lb. peacock

Another 10+ lb tameness peacock

To avoid spooking cruising peacocks, the low, clear water required long accurate casts  and the winds made the achievement of those requisite long casts quite difficult. At times, I felt more like I was fishing for permit or bonefish in the ocean than for peacocks on a freshwater river in the Amazon. The fact that many of the best fish we caught were initially sighted on the backs of sting rays didn't do anything to dispel that illusion.

Unless you were right on the mark, the prized big boys... the 10+ lb. big peacocks, were easily spooked. Without a doubt, this was the toughest year we've ever had on the Agua Boa and yet, fish were caught, the sight fishing was very engaging and we all had a good time. Each day, we caught numerous smaller borboleta (butterfly) and paca (spotted) peacocks, but the bigger temensis peacocks were quite a bit tougher to catch. That being said, the majority of the fishermen in our group landed double digit fish, with big peacocks of 14, 15 and 16 lbs. being caught each day. In addition to these large peacock bass, we also caught red tail and surabim catfish, arowana, jacunda, bicuda, payara, oscars. piranha and pacu (on dry flies).

The day begins

The day ends
In between, John Riggs and Peter Greenleaf make a statement!
...and Peter Greenleaf and Doug Jeffries sum up another day.

When on the river, huge sandbars framed clear shallow sand flats laced with green bands of deeper water. We blind fished with sink or intermediate tips any structure and these deeper seams. We sight fished big peacocks in shallow lagos and poled the main river scanning the flats. Here, we threw floating and intermediate lines with lightly weighted or unweighted small streamers. After starting out with the traditional 4-5 inch flies, we either switched to smaller flies or trimmed existing flies to present a less intimidating profile and a quieter entry.

Anna Riggs with a solid fish 

Paca or spotted peacock

The low water also had an upside. We had many encounters with a wide variety of wildlife as most of  the animals were concentrated along the river corridors. Monkeys, agouti, tapir, otter, deer, dolphin and the ubiquitous caiman were commonly sighted. Many beautiful birds were ever-present making trips up and downriver a pleasure. We saw channel billed toucans, roseate spoonbills, jabiru storks, black collared hawk, cocoi heron, sun bitterns, macaws,  kingfishers, eagles, just to name a few.

Giant Amazonian otter

Black hawk

More photos and trip moments to follow:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Brett Smith: Fly Tier Extraordinaire

I can't wait to use these innovative peacock bass flies! I leave tomorrow for the Amazon and asked Brett Smith to put his considerable tying skills to work and make me a few Peacock bass flies. I just got them yesterday and wow, they are beautiful!

Brett and I have been working on tying some of my favorite baby tarpon and bonefish fly designs over the last few months. We've spent a lot of Saturday mornings lately drinking coffee and talking about bonefish and tarpon flies. We hope to have some rock solid designs available for Angling Destinations' clients this spring. We have been working on some of my designs and on some highly productive patterns that are not commercially available. He will also be tying custom orders for AD clients too. More on this soon!

I've know Brett for over 25 years. He is a big barrel of a man with a quick laugh and a wicked sense of humor. Brett was the first manager of my fly shop in Big Horn Mountain Sports. Brett is a superb fly fisherman and an even better fly tier being one of the most innovative fly tiers I know. 

We have produced some prototypes and now are working on refining our designs. I'll keep you up to date on our progress, but hope fully they will be available soon!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Brett Yantis Trip with Son to Costa de Cocos

As many of the readers of this blog are no doubt aware, I'm a big proponent of father/son fly fishing trips (or father/daughter fishing trips or really any trips that gets kids out fishing with their families.)
I speak with experience: It's good for the parents, good for the kids and good for the future of our sport. It's also a great way to make sure the next generation will love the out-of-doors enough to want to protect it!

Right after Christmas this year, Brett Yantis and his son Will ventured to the southern Yucatan for a bit of a fishing adventure out of Costa de Cocos. Upon their return, Brett forwarded some photos and a brief report on their trip. I know it's a busy time of the year so an extra special thanks to Brett for taking the time to send me the following report:

We loved the place [Costa de Cocos]. Super chill and not many people. Unfortunately the wind was freaking ridiculous. According to Sailflow, it blew 25-40 all day and night until the day we left. I've fished the salt a lot but never encountered those conditions. We did catch bones every day, but the fishable flats could be counted on one had.  My son caught his first bone on fly.

We had a blast running and gunning schools of 10 pounds jacks in the bay. [Will] caught 6 jacks on fly. Broke two hooks on those 10 lb jacks.

The lodge was sweet and the staff great. Food was good. Guides were good, professional.  They run a tight program down there. We will return.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

So you think there are just small bonefish on Christmas Island?

Guy Gardiner always gives us a great report on his trips with his fellow New Zealanders to Christmas Island. (2014 report hereGuy is an old friend having traveled twice to the Seychelles with me. Guy has gone to Christmas Island with us quite a few times now and here is his report from his most recent visit:

Hi Scott.

Our party of 8 had another stellar fishing experience at CIO in the week straddling September/October where we fished the new moon tides when we arrived and the neaps at the end. Half our number had very limited experience at sight flyfishing so it was a different group to what I have hosted in the past. My son, Leo, in particular had not done much fishing at all and could be called a novice yet he caught 20 bonefish, a wahoo, yellowfin tuna and a sailfish offshore in addition to numerous hookups. He had only one blank day out of the 8 we fished. It is a great place for a flyfishing beginner. We actually struck king spring tides which meant the fish were bigger but the times and places they were actively feeding were more limited than usual until later in the week when they really came on in numbers I haven’t experienced since 1995. You really can choose whether you go for numbers or size or as we did go for a compromise. 


Dan, my brother in law, with a trophy Trigger fish caught at Korean Wreck. 

The lodge continues to offer the wonderful ambience and tempo that it always has and the guiding service maintains the same quality levels I have experienced since 2010 when I came with my father. One sad note is that the owner, proprietor and former mayor of the island Jim Tekiti has died and the operation continues under the auspices of his wife Anita and Biita still runs the guiding service. The lodge side of things is managed by Kata who previous clients might remember as the head chef. 

The weather was more patchy and our day planned for Korean Wreck was a failure due to the southerly and our back up option also fell over due to the track to Submarine Flat on the south side of the island being flooded out. Also Y site is no longer accessible by truck due to saltwater creek cuts through some off the tracks which is no real problem as more is boat accessible now but it did limit our Korean Wreck day. I am not sure whether it is due to a run of high tides or rising sea levels but an interesting development. 

That is one big bonefish!

Guy's son Leo and his big bone

Two personal highlights for me were our off shore day where we hooked up 13 wahoo/tuna/barracuda and boated 5 wahoo, 1 yellowfin tuna and a cuda as well as hooking 2 sailfish and Leo landed one which we managed to resuscitate and release. I fought one on fly tackle for 25 minutes before losng it. The best day offshore I have experienced in 20 years there. The other was my biggest ever bonefish by far hooked on Paris on a worm fly. I scaled the measurements in the photo and it comes in at 72cm as held and probably weighed 15-15.5 lbs. A lifetime highlight. [I'll say! Congratulations Guy, that is a truly tremendous bonefish! Ed.]

All the best,