Sunday, February 12, 2017

Agua Boa River Trip Report 2017

All the links to all our annual trips since 2006 are at the bottom of this page.

After meeting in Manaus, Brazil we spent the following day catching up on some much needed sleep, visiting the fish market and enjoying a wonderful meal at our favorite restaurant Choupana. (for more info see the bottom of the page). 

Surabim catfish
Geez, really?

Early the next morning, we were wheels up at 7:00 AM and on our way to the Agua Boa River. One hour and 45 minutes later, we touched down on the asphalt strip carved out of the jungle. As we taxied up, we could see our old friends Carlos and Charlie, as well as many of the guides we have come to know so well over the years. After a quick breakfast, we were in the boats ready to begin our seven days of exploring this amazing area in the vast Amazon Basin.

From the get-go, it was obvious our water conditions were going to be very different than last year’s trip during the drought. We could see we were going to have plenty of water this year. We were told it had rained hard the week before we arrived and the water of the Agua Boa River was high and cool. Given expectations generated by 10 years worth of trips, our first two days were disappointing for some of us. Then, as the weather improved and the water’s warmed, things began looking up.

Important to have your fishing license.

Because you'll never know when the authorities might show up!


Paca tail


Most of the following days were terrific for smaller borboleta (butterfly) and paca (spotted) peacocks, but the bigger temensis (aka tucanare) peacocks, the 10+ lb big boys, were elusive. We speculated that last year’s drought may have been hard on these bigger fish forcing them to retreat to deeper pools or leave the river system entirely.

We caught many 5-8 lb. fish leading us to speculate that in a couple years, there will be many big fish back in the system. Of course, we could be entirely wrong as with all the water, the bigger fish could have been way up in lagoon systems or hunting deep in the flooded forrest where we could not reach them. To lend credence to this argument, on our last two days, I began seeing bigger fish prowling up smaller streams in areas where we simply could not get a boat due to the overgrowth. The good news was that many of the lagoons we could not access last year due to the low water were easily accessible if you had a good guide, a chain saw and a machete!

Double Boga

On one day I wrote:

Zezinho (ZZ), Doug Jeffries and I left shortly after dawn. Our skiff was packed with water, gas, sandwiches, four cookies, five fly rods, too damn much camera gear, a chain saw and a homemade machete. After an hour or so run downriver towards the Rio Branco, we veered off the Agua Boa and slid to a halt at the mouth of a hidden lagoon system. 

ZZ hacking our way in

A 6 lb temensis
Zezinho hacked at the logs and tree limbs blocking our way until we finally reached a clearwater ox-bow. Those on hand to cheer us on were were pink dolphins, a few large caiman, a bunch of chattering giant Amazonian otters, two slinky manatees, and a slew of very busy capuchin monkeys. Blue and yellow macaws, hoatin, parrots, nightjars and osprey also made some specific comments concerning our performance.

Blue and gold macaws
Cocoi Heron
A 2 foot long lizard that was gone before we could identify it. Look at those claws!
In the afternoon, we were slammed by a strong thunderstorm that came complete with hail (a rarity in the Amazon). The no-see-ums were at times obnoxious and my wasp sting from the day before itched like hell. 
So all things considered, it was a perfect day! 
And we did manage to catch a few feisty peacocks along the way...

Peacock on a red/white whistler

Doug Ellis
Mike Schwartz
We predominantly fished with intermediate tips (Rio WF8F/I) probing any structure and the faster seams. In deeper runs we used sink tips (Rio 250 gr. Leviathan WF8S). We did get a few chances to sightfish  suspended peacocks in shallow lagoons. We mostly threw lightly weighted streamers (bead chain eyes) in red/white, orange/red, tan/pink and green/white with a considerable amount of flash like whistlers. 

Coboclo with a healthy peacock
Whistler strikes again

Doug Jeffries releasing a spotted pecock

We had many encounters with a wide variety of wildlife, but not as many as in year’s past. I’m sure the rainy weather forced many animals deep to seek cover in the jungle. On the sunny days later in the week, we definitely saw more birds and animals. Having said that we spotted many capuchin monkeys, agouti, tapir, lots of giant otter, deer, jaguarundi, dolphin and the black and spectacled caiman were regularly seen. Many beautiful birds were spotted up and downriver which always makes a boat ride more enjoyable. We saw channel billed toucans,  jabiru storks, black collared hawks, cocoi heron, sun bitterns, macaws, kingfishers, eagles, as well as many others. In addition to these various species of peacock bass mentioned above, we also caught jacunda, bicuda, piranha and pacu.

Capuchin monkeys

Despite the at times, challenging conditions, we had a great time. the fishing was good if not great, the guides, staff, accommodations and fun level, better than great. Many thanks to our terrific group: Mike Schwartz, Doug Jeffries, Anna Riggs, Doug Ellis and Scott Sawtelle. See most of you soon in the Bahamas!...and to the staff at the Agua Boa Lodge especially Carlos and Charlie many thanks for all your help. 

And finally, a special thanks to all the guides: Juarez, Samuel, Bacaba, Imao, Joseph (Zezinho), Preto and Caboclo and Riccardo…. you guys were great as always!!

Coboclo at the casting competition
Joseph aka Zezinho aka ZZ
Anna with the crew

Preto striking a clasic pose

As promised:
Here is a complete listing of all previous trip reports which include hundreds of photos!

(And then there was this:
While I was getting organized in Manaus for our flight into the Agua Boa River, I watched an American Idol knockoff on TV. The show was called Bimbo Mix. Lots of bad singing, crying contestants and skimpy outfits. Who said we don't export anything anymore?)

*For those interested in Choupana restaurant  I would order the piraroucu fish soup and our favorite fish Tambaqui grilled. You will enjoy some of the best fish in the world.