After three days of traveling, I woke up to the crazy sounds of all these birds/insects deep in the wild jungle. The strong smell of coffee floating around in the air. I’m in the heart of the Amazon.
The journey here was long and tiring, the sounds and smells of the jungle are energizing. It hasn’t hit me that I’m deep in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but fly fish. Our goal is arapaima. We will see how it goes, our guides don’t speak much English. This will be my home for a month.
After setting up all the fly gear, we are ready for battle with the mighty arapaima. We are heading north to a very strange lake formed like a Y.
“The First Contact”
After a few hours, we finally got the first contact, we had a follower that was interested in the fly but refused it at the boat. I started to speculate if I might have had the wrong color or wrong size. Hours passed and the sun was on its way down. It had been a long day, hammering 12 weight rods.
All the sudden my buddy Lars got a strange strike that was like hitting a big log. I look at him and I see him thinking is that a log or could it be a fish? I tell him right away set the hook! Since we were fishing in that area earlier and there were no trees on the bottom, it just had to be an arapaima!
Once he set the hook the game was on! It doesn’t take many seconds before the arapaima is going crazy and getting airborne. Our first arapaima landed on the fly! Both of us knew now that it can be done and it’s not impossible.
“The grass is always greener on the other side”
We heard all these rumors from the locals saying that many freshwater giants live in another lake that requires some travel to get to. According to the stories fish up to 6 meters long (20 feet long!!).
We set off walking through the bush for two hours and paddling through two other lakes. Finally, we arrived me and just after a few mins we see some arapaimas lurking around the grass edge.
I make a cast and boom! I set the hook but it comes loose. I make a few more casts and chaos breaks loose. Immediately the fly line rips up around my feet in the canoe and shoots through the rod tip.
After some powerful runs, the fish had to be tired, it was time to try land it. My friend who was the local didn’t want to get into the water, so I had to land it myself. Success!
These are the memories that make me go traveling.
“The Unreachable Lake”
This lake got the name by the locals since it takes a big effort to get to. The lake is very far, but it is a beautiful swamp habitat ideal for arapaimas. Due to the swampy conditions, it was very hard to walk and also to shallow to paddle through. We were starting to think this lake was not worth it.
And this was probably why the locals haven’t been there in 20 years. But, we insisted to go there and check it out. We had scoped this lake on the satellite map several times and it looked really awesome, a place you just gotta try out!
A few hours later and a lot of bite marks from all kinds of insects and really bad fire ants we had made it.
As the sun was going down we started to see some activity and it didn’t take long until we hooked one and it gave some spectacular jump/headshakes but in the end, the Arapaima won it spit the fly.
Fishing for the Arapima made us realize that these fish are king of these waterways. Their powerful runs, aggressive takes, and acrobatic jumps make these species so special. I will be back to catch more of the Piraruco Kings!
Johnathan Berg is a Swedish native that guides around the Red Sea near Sudan and Djibouti. He has traveled across the world targeting exotic fish. To learn more about this destination and Arapaima he can be reached at email@example.com.