The Brazilian Pantanal Region, formed by a broad watershed in Rio Paraguai, defines the largest flood plain on the planet and covers about 230,000 square kilometers in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Vegetation creates covered mosaics of forests, fields and shrubs completely interspersed with swamps, rivers, swamps and bays. The rich and diverse fauna includes 230 different fish species, 650 bird species, 80 species of mammals, and 50 different reptile species. Biologists consider this area the concentration of the most populous animal life in the world. Temperatures usually range from 75 to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pantanal waters support a complex ichthyologic fauna network. The list of native game includes Dourado, Sorubim, Pacu, Jau, Piraputanga and others; species such as Jacunda, Oscar and Peacock Bass have been introduced in several areas to offer more choices to sport fishermen.
Dorado (Salminus maxillosus) Dourado
Range: Sao Francisco, Prata, and the Paraguay DAS. Characteristics: Shaped like a heavy trout, growing to more than 40 kilograms. The strong jaw is lined with conical teeth, the yellow / gold body is accented with horizontal black stripes and a black ribbon in the middle of the orange tail. A strong warrior who often jumps when hooked. One of the most favorite game fish in Brazil.
Dorado captures anglers with their unique beauty and especially with stubborn acrobatic battles when addicted. Dorado becomes easier to find when the river’s surface drops and a herd of predators is seen attacking bait fish. In this situation, dorado will attack natural or artificial bait. Two preferred methods of fishing are artificial casting or drifting with natural bait. Dorado gold usually averages 4 to 10 pounds. Diet: small fish
Habitat: free flowing river, preferring head rapids and feeder river mouths
Tackle: medium to heavy rods and 12 to 30-lb lines; shallow plugs and spoon; size 5/0 to 7/0 hooks on the lead wire and live bait.
Piraputanga (Brycon microleps)
Range: Prata Watershed and Sao Francisco
Characteristics: Chrome body with orange fins, small mouth and strong teeth. Can grow to more than 2 feet and 7 pounds. Judged for its delicious meat, and appreciated by sport fishermen because of its willingness to attack flies and bait.
Diet: small fish, fruits and seeds
Habitat: prefers clear river water, where it hides near structures like fallen trees and rocks
Tackle: mild to moderate bars and lines 12 through 20-lb; spoons, spinners, surface or diving plugs; sizes 1/0 to 3/0 hooks are fed with fruit or small fish; wire leader
Although it rarely exceeds 20 inches, piraputanga makes amazing resistance, making strong jumps and repetitive jumps. It prefers to stretch the river with clear water, fast flowing.
Payara (Hydrolicus scomberoides) Cachorra Facão
Range: Amazon and Paraguay river valleys
Characteristics: Known as cachorra (dogfish) in Brazil, Payara prefers stretches of fast-moving rivers along Amazon watersheds and Paraguay rivers. The body is elongated, compressed in dark blue or greenish along the back, bright to the silver side and white belly. Easily identified by a pair of long fangs in the lower jaw, Payara is a greedy predator who attacks artificial bait and often jumps when hooked. Diet: small fish. Habitat: depth, swift river flow; rapids tails Tackle: medium or medium-heavy stem; Line 12 to 25 pounds; diving plugs, spoons, jigs; wire leader needed
Piauçu (Leporinus macrocephalus)
Range: the Prata and Paraguay river basins
Characteristics: Resembles a goldfish, with large scales and a fat body, the color varies from gray to reddish. Can exceed 2 feet and 12 pounds, with good meat. Diet: crustaceans, mollusks and fruits. Habitat: bays and flood fields, prefer areas with floating vegetation
Tackle: medium stems and lines 12 through 16-lb; 4/0 to 6/0 hooks are fed with crabs, snails, corn or dough
Originating from the Araguaia River Basin, the blue peacock bass was accidentally introduced to Piqueri about 20 years ago. It has adapted well to many bays and watersheds, and is now one of the area’s main attractions. Peacocks are found in bays and between structures along major river channels, where they reach an average size of 5 pounds.
Sorubim (Pseudoplatystoma corruscans) Pintado
Range: river basins of Sao Francisco and Prata. Characteristics: Flat-headed catfish that can reach more than four feet and 150 pounds. Dark gray backs, white wings covered with black spots and markings. Rated as a hard sports fish and a special table dish. Diet: small fish Habitat: flood fields during high water season, deep pools and lower banks
Tackle: heavy rods and 40-lb lines or heavier; 8/0 to 10/0 hooks are bait with small fish or large worms
Sorubim catfish that are visible and striped prefer deep holes, outflows of bays and river banks which are covered by floating plants. Successful fishing usually comes with live bait such as eels and small fish. You can catch sorubim when tied to the beach or while flying. This catfish can reach 30 kilograms or more.
Pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus)
Range: Amazon, Araguaia and Prata river basins
Characteristics: Plate-shaped body, small head and mouth coated with human-like molars that are used to crush crabs and seeds. The color varies from dark olive or gray to yellowish, can grow to more than 3 feet and weigh more than 25 pounds. Rated as a sport fish and food.
Diet: pacemakers are called “river pigs” because they eat almost anything, but prefer fruit, seeds, and crabs
Habitat: invade flood fields during high water season, prefer areas with floating vegetation or live near hanging fruiting trees.
Tackle: medium-heavy stems and lines 16 to 30-lb; size 4/0 to 6/0 short shank hooks and crabs for bait; can also use bamboo stems with 80-lb lines and hooks fed with palm fruit, letting the bait enter the water to attract fish
A favorite among Brazilian anglers, this piranha vegetarian cousin makes fine cuisine. It prefers calmer bays and waters but is sometimes found in the right river. The best bait includes locally available fruits and freshwater crabs. Pacemakers range from 2 to 10 pounds.
Jau (Paulicea luetkeni)
Range: Amazon and Prata river valleys
Characteristics: Catfish with large heads and short bodies that are relatively short. Colors vary by location, from brown to yellowish to greenish. Grows up to 5 feet and can exceed 200 pounds. Very large specimens are increasingly difficult to find in the Pantanal but still occur with frequency in the Telles Pires and Juruena rivers. Diet: small fish. Habitat: deep pools, especially those at the bottom of a waterfall
Tackle: Stout rods and 50-lb or heavier lines; hooks from 8/0 to 12/0 and heavy weights to keep the bait at the bottom in deep water
The largest catfish in the Pantanal, it can grow to more than 150 pounds, but usually ranges from 20 to 50. It inhabits the deepest holes in the river, waiting for easy food to swim. Natural bait is needed to catch fish.
Flatwhiskered Catfish (Pinirampus pinirampu) Barbado
Range: Amazon and Paraguay river valleys
Characteristics: This catfish exhibits a set of very long mustaches and overall gray color, can grow to more than 30 inches and weigh 20 pounds. Diet: small fish. Habitat: deeper river stretch
Tackle: medium to heavy rods and 20 to 30-lb lines; size 5/0 to 8/0 hooks and weights to keep the natural bait on the bottom.