Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Payara, the Famous Vampire Fish of the Amazon Basin

4" long teeth and new ones are folded down in the jaw
On this year's trip to Brazil's Agua Boa River, I finally caught a payara, the famous vampire fish of the Amazon. I've been trying to catch one for years! I think they are cool fish. Huge teeth, lean silver body, strong aerial fighters... payara are amazing. Think of them as badass tarpon and you've got the idea. Anyway, I finally caught one! I have no photogrphic proof of my catch. We took him off the boga to take a photo and as I was clicking the shutter on my camera, our guide lost his grip and my payara went overboard. Doug Jeffries is my only witness. He was landing an arowana at the time! That's the bad news... the good news is Agua Boa Lodge most senior guide, Pedro, cleaned a payara skull for me and I brought it home. The photos are below.

Pretty cool eh?

Doug Jeffries with a Beautiful Payara
Looks like ALIEN!

No wonder our guide didn't seem too interested in maintaining his grip on my fish when it thrashed.
Nothing would escape these jaws!

Payara are fast, aggressive and a great gamefish. The two large fangs jutting from the lower jaw can grow to 6 inches. These two lower teeth fit into holes in the upper jaw. Payara usually swallow their prey whole (after spearing them with their teeth), but will sometimes dice prey into bite-sized pieces. This fish can reach up to about 4 feet (117 cm) in length with a weight of up to 40 lbs (18 kg). A 40 lb. Payara would be one badass fish!!


  1. Sure, you caught a payara. That was right after we found those funny mushrooms in the jungle. And combined with the little sleep you had, well, some mental 'visions' aren't totally unexpected.

  2. Seriously, that was a really mean looking payara and I felt bad you didn't get your photos of it. You'll just have to go back and get another. The 'bang bang' payara aruana mix was pretty cool too.

  3. Thanks for providing the arowana Doug! That was one of my favorite moments during the trip.
    At the time, it didn't bother me, but now I wish i had a photo to look at during this long Wyoming winter.

  4. Cool fish. Found it by accident looking for fish pics. Congrats good job!