As you motor up the Agua Boa River on your first day, it isn't long before you realize you aren't in Kansas anymore. Perhaps a noisy pair of blue and gold macaws will pass overhead. Or maybe a caiman, capybara or tapir will be seen basking in the morning sun... maybe you'll hear a howler monkey rumbling his location. Soon your guide either banks away from the main river to slide into a mysterious lagoon or the motor stops and you drift toward the river's bank to begin your day in earnest. You're here to catch peacock bass and by choosing the Agua Boa River you couldn't have found a better spot to pursue this legendary species... and a few others!
In fact, there are three species of peacock bass present in the Agua Boa River: the butterfly or borboleta, the spotted or paca and the temensis or acu. The butterfly peacock is the most numerous in the Agua Boa River system and perhaps the most beautiful. They range from 2-5 pounds and provide the "quantity" between chances at the prime time players, the spotted and temensis peacocks. These two species often hunt together in marauding packs and reach up to 25 pounds. Unlike ambush predators who lay in wait for their prey then launch an attack that ends quickly in either success or failure, the big peacocks are pursuit predators who use their great speed and endurance to run down their prey. They will stay on an unlucky baitfish until it is either eaten or driven up on the bank. Pursuit predator seems like such a politically correct term for these garishly colored thugs. But for the flyrodder, a big peacock's violent predilections can be exploited using a big, feathered fly and a quick retrieve. Peacock bass takes are ferocious, their runs powerful and the fight brutish. The hardest part of the battle is keeping your hooked fish out of the logjams and root bundles that line the bank in most of the neighborhoods these thugs terrorize. If you can stop a big peacock's initial run without blistering a finger or two, usually you can begin the process of slowly working the fish to the boat. It is common to catch spotted peacocks up to 10 pounds and temensis up to 16 or 17 pounds. It is also possible and in some cases quite possible, to catch many other species on the Agua Boa including: piranha (the small fish with the big teeth... they will destroy a fly and your fingers, in a heartbeat), pirarucu (the legend fish of the Amazon. Some call it the "tarpon of the Amazon" as it reaches weights in excess of 250 pounds and makes spectacular jumps), arowana (more on this species later), pacu (small permit shaped fish that often take trout dry flies and are nicknamed silver dollars), trairao (like a walleye on steroids), jacunda (with a bright red spot and sharp teeth), matrixa (a great gamefish that makes repeated big jumps and fight like a rainbow trout), pirapoucou (a toothless small barracuda), payara (the famed vampire-toothed tiger fish of the Amazon) and oscars (like those in many aquariums, but much bigger and with two bright red eyespots).
Often when hunting peacocks, anglers will see the exotic and secretive arowana slinking next to shore. Mornings are best for arowana and often they are seen in pairs. Arowana are beautiful, pale blue and pink air breathers with big scales and a hinged tarpon-like mouth. Arowana are easily spooked and require a delicate presentation and a slow, very lifelike retrieve. If it all comes together and you do manage to hook an arowana, they make huge jumps and are strong fighters. Arowana average 6-9 pounds, but it is not uncommon to see fish up to 14 or 15 pounds.
But let's get back to the stars of the show... the peacock bass. The peacock bass is not really a bass at all. It is called a bass because in general size and shape it resembles a largemouth bass. However, the peacock (or tucunare in Brazil) is the largest American member of the cichlid family, which includes tilapia, guapote, and the "oscar" of aquarium fame. While both largemouth and peacocks take surface flies readily with their huge bucket mouths, the similarities stop there. Tucunare are tougher, more belligerent and usually bigger. And also unlike bass, peacocks feed only during daylight hours. The peacock derives its name from their large aft-mounted eyespot, which resembles the concentric circles on a peacock (the bird) tail plume. The English name peacock comes from the Spanish word for peacock, which is pavon. The peacock a.k.a. tucunare a.k.a. pavon's eyespot is a way to deceive predators. An eyespot near the tail focuses a predator's attack there and often means an attack is made in totally the wrong direction. In addition, peacocks obscure their cryptic, red "real" eye with dark and irregular color patterns on their heads. Without a doubt, temensis, butterfly and spotted peacocks are some of the most beautiful gamefish in the world. Light bellies, dark greenish backs and a myriad of accent colors, including translucent blue and aquamarine fins, only begins the cavalcade of colors seen in these fantastic creatures.
Your headquarters for the week is the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge. This facility is the only lodge on the Agua Boa River system. The entire Agua Boa system has been placed under permanent protection and the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge has exclusive rights to the area, which includes over 100 miles of river and countless lagos, lagunas and feeder creeks. The lodge itself was built in 2001. It is a spacious facility with a large dining room, a living room with satellite TV and CD player, a bar and a game room with ping-pong and pool tables. The lodge has a large front porch that faces the 20-meter swimming pool and the river beyond. Clients stay in one of six air-conditioned cottages. Each bungalow has a 30 x 30 main room with two large double beds, mini-fridge that is well stocked with water, sodas and beer (no extra charge), TV and plenty of room to spread out. The en suite bathrooms have hot and cold showers, flushing toilets and plenty of room to unpack in an adjacent dressing room. Meals are taken in the main lodge's dining room. Breakfasts and dinners are served buffet style and are plentiful and filling. Breakfasts are traditional with eggs and pancakes, fresh fruits and juices etc. Dinners usually include two entries with fresh fish usually being one choice and chicken, steaks or pork chops the other. Desserts are delicious! After breakfast, anglers make their own sandwiches for lunch and the guides take them from the dining room to the boat's coolers.
The Agua Boa Amazon Lodge is truly a special place made even more incredible because this oasis is smack-dab in the middle of one of the world's most remote and pristine ecosystems. You'll fish hard in absolute luxury in the midst of a very inhospitable wilderness. The Agua Boa Amazon Lodge provides everything needed to successfully and comfortably pursue the Agua Boa's piscine treasures. It is a great spot to wake up to in the morning and it is a wonderful spot to return to in the evening.
The Agua Boa Amazon Lodge's extensive area is divided into six beats. Each guide fishes a particular beat during your stay and guides are rotated daily. This makes it possible for each angler to see a different section of the river each day and therefore, most of the river during the trip. The guides use 20-foot aluminum skiffs equipped with poling platforms and four stroke motors. A big front casting deck and a central deck or seat allows both anglers to cast at the same time if need be. This is best accomplished with one angler casting to one side of the boat while the other angler works the other side. Each boat comes equipped with a big cooler jam packed with iced down water, beer, sodas and lunches. The guides are excellent and very friendly. Although in the past, only two of the six spoke any English, the camp owners are working hard to improve each guide's "fishing English". In order to insure you'll have no problem communicating when it comes to fishing, the lodge issues, upon your arrival, a list of key fishing phrases translated from English to Portuguese. This really helps when anglers want to identify a species or make a change from a lago to the main channel or vice versa. All guides go out of their way to accommodate your needs and to make sure you have a productive and successful adventure in Brazil.
We are always asked about biting insects in the Amazon. We have some good news here! There may be some no-see-ums morning and evening, but a little Ultrathon or DEET works well. Because of the tannic acid in the river water from decaying leaves, the Agua Boa has very few mosquitoes due to this acidity. While we don't promise a total absence of bugs during your time on the Agua Boa, we can say that none of our visiting anglers have ever thought the bugs were bad or a reason not to visit this spectacular area.
The Agua Boa Amazon Lodge takes only 12 rods per week and the price for seven nights, seven days of fishing is $5500.00 per person double occupancy in a twin chalet. The season for fly fishermen runs from October thru April. The price includes all airport transfers, meals, air-conditioned lodging, guided fishing daily, and the one and one-half hour private charter to and from the lodge from Manaus, Brazil. The rate does not include commercial flights to Manaus, any overnights in Manaus and gratuities to the guides and staff.
If you've thought about catching peacock bass on a fly rod, there is no better choice than the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge. From the moment your chartered twin sets down on the lodge's asphalt strip that suddenly appears in the midst of countless miles of rainforest jungle, you'll know you are in a very special place. Visiting the Agua Boa River is a truly fantastic adventure! One of our visiting anglers summed up his recent trip this way "On a scale of 1-10, this trip was a 30!".
Not only are you in the heart of peacock bass country, on a river that offers perhaps the best sightfishing opportunities for peacocks in the world, but the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge is beautiful, the rooms comfortable and the staff happy and hardworking. Add to that great guides, delicious food and cold beer and drinks and you have a recipe for one of the great angling experiences available in the world today!