THE AMAZON – RIO NEGRO RIVER
More than 450 different fish species have been recorded in the Rio Negro river. That is 15 times the total species in all rivers in Europe. Considered the fourth largest river in the world, the Rio Negro stretches for more than 625 miles. Although the waters that are rich in tannins are a strong tea color, the river flows very clear (not muddy). The peacock bass speckled all-tackle current world record (Cichla temensis) was captured in this river, near the town of Barcelos, and this 27 pound fish represents the goal of many avid anglers. Among the large variety of fish found in the Amazon river, the 4 most popular fish species found in the Rio Negro river and its streams are Bass Peacock, Arowana, Redtail Catfish and Piraiba.
Peacock Bass (Cichla Temensis) Tucunaré
Called the ambassador of Brazilian waters because of its popularity among international sport fishermen, several different peacock species inhabit the Amazon river system. The speckled peacock is a member of the largest family, growing to more than 25 kilograms. The color is varied and may include several black vertical bands on the body, or horizontal rows of yellowish spots and lines over golden golden wings. Peacocks prefer bays and lagoons from major river channels, especially near fallen trees and other structures, and sometimes roam large schools and attack bait fish in the feeding frenzy. The biggest fish is found in the Madeira and Rio Negro regions. The current peacock world record (27 pounds) is taken from Rio Negro. Live bait, trolling and plugcasting all work well, but most sport fishermen prefer plugcasting or flyfishing for peacocks. For fishing, use medium-heavy casting rods and lines of 16 to 25 pounds or even more scared. Dive plugs are effective, but topwater bait offers more excitement and heart attack. Aviation fishermen must use 8-weight clothing and WF floating lanes with poppers and intermediate level channels and tapes.
Piraíba (Brachyplatystoma Filamentosum)
Residents in the Amazon region refer to catfish as “smooth fish”, and refer to very large fish as “wild animals”. In this world, piraiba reigns as one of the largest freshwater species in the world. It doesn’t settle in deep pools, so look at this wild animal near the rapids and under the waterfall where it hunts smaller fish; or find it in a major river channel, in a deep stretch with minimal current flow. Rivers such as Telles Pires, Juruena and Madeira offer the best opportunities for linking piraiba. Fish with a friend on a stable boat, and ready to release the anchor line to chase the hooked fish. Piraiba’s attacks and resistance are very strong, as is his endurance. Use very heavy tackles, lines that are rated 80 pounds or more, and stems that can produce bait weighing up to one pound. Hooks (sizes 10/0 and larger) must be attached to the wire leader. Direct bait gets the best results.
Red Catfish (Phractocephalus Hemioliopterus) Pirarara
Always a competitor among the Amazon heavyweights, this beautiful colored cat is called “macaw fish” by Indians. They can grow up to 5 feet and weigh more than 120 pounds. Larger fish prefer the deepest ponds and do long and strong battles when addicted. At the end of the fight, red tails often make loud wheezing noises when they come to the surface, which can frighten unsuspecting anglers. They take various lures such as minnows or cut bait; the best choice varies by region. Redtail occurs throughout the Amazon valley but seems to grow the largest in the rivers Guapore, Telles Pires, Juruena and Madeira. To tame this beast, the angler needs a heavy tackle, a 50 pound line, and hooks 5/0 through 8/0 on the lead wire.
Arowana (Oteoglossum Bicirrhosum) Aruanã
This uniquely shaped fish is the only scale fish to have barbells in the lower jaw. There are two subspecies: one copper-colored and can grow to more than 3 feet and the other, smaller and darker, only occurs in the Rio Negro. Adults protect young children by putting it in the mouth. Arowana has extraordinary sight on the water and often jumps high to take insects from hanging branches. They also eat small fish and other aquatic creatures. Arowana’s narrow and hard mouth makes it difficult to connect, and fish often miss bait when attacking them wildly. Use a medium casting tackle and a 16-pound line, diving and topwater bait, or fly-7 rod with streamers and poppers.
SOME OTHER TYPES OF FISH THAT YOU CAN CAPTURE IN AMAZON
Jatuarana (Hemiodus microcephalus) and Matrincha (Brycon melanopterus)
These two similar but different species often deceive anglers about their identities. Jatuarana is golden yellow with black markings covering most of the tail fin and can grow up to 16 pounds. They are most active when rivers have strong currents, supporting rocky areas and large ponds under rapids, where they are sped up to catch prey in fast currents. Anglers know when they associate jatuarana because this fish jumps immediately and runs downstream strongly. One of the best places to find it is on the river Pau Cerne, a tributary of the Guapore River. Matrincha is smaller, rarely exceeds 8 pounds, with a silvery body. They are more common but are just as difficult to relate. Clear, swift rivers such as Von den Steinen are ideal for matrincha. Look for them near the trees and hanging brushes. For both species, use medium tackles and 16 to 20 pounds of lines, spoons and spinners.
Sorubim – Cachara
Some members of the Pseudoplatystoma family, such as the sorubim tiger, live in these waters and use different common names such as pintado, cachara and caparari. The delicious meat makes them highly valued by sport fishermen and also local meat fishermen. They tend to bite lightly before taking the bait, then towards the porous cover and brush. Find this flat-headed cat in a deep pool, at a river bend, near a stretch of floating vegetation and along a sand dune. Use heavy tackles and 30-50 pound lines with 8/0 hooks or greater on steel leaders. Natural bait such as large worms, small fish and eels are best used. Sorubim is most active at the beginning and evening, in the hours of low light, and at night.
Catfish Gilded (Brachyplatystoma flavicans)
Piraiba’s cousin has a narrower body and an overall golden color. It happens in good numbers on the Madeira River. Gold-plated cats prefer a slow current and take a bait consisting of whole fish or chunks. Heavy tackles are required for these wild animals, with a 30-50 pound line and hooks 5/0 through 8/0 on the lead wire.
Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas)
Range: Amazon and Araguaia watersheds
Characteristics: The largest scale fish in the world can grow to more than 7 feet and 300 pounds. Small head, cylindrical body covered with large scales, mostly copper-bronze color with a creamy belly, several bright red accents along the body. Come to the surface periodically to sip the air. Diet: small fish, crustaceans, and amphibians. Habitat: shallow bays and calm waters.
Tackle: heavy rods and 50-lb lines or heavier; large circle hooks are bait with small fish
Tambaqui (Colossoma macrapomum)
Among the largest scale freshwater fish in Brazil, tambaqui can exceed 4 feet and weigh more than 60 pounds. Round, lateral compressed body is dark green on the back, white on the bottom and dark to black near the tail. During the high water season, enter the flooded forest to eat fruit and seeds. Not a sport-fishing target, tambaqui is often hard to find and more difficult to connect and land because of their brute strength. Use a heavier tackle, 40 pounds or stronger lines and hooks 5/0 through 7/0 that are given worm or fruit bait. Guapore and Madeira Rivers offer the best opportunities for finding and capturing tambaqui.
Payara (Hydrolicus scomberoides) Cachorra
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
Oscar (Astronotus spp) Apaiari
Range: throughout Brazil
Characteristics: Colors vary, with some specimens showing other cichlid tail point characteristics. Grows up to 20 inches and 3 pounds. Breeding couples protect young people by putting it in their mouths. Rated as an aquarium fish. Diet: small fish, insects, fruits, crustaceans. Habitat: in slow moving lakes and rivers, prefer areas with aquatic vegetation
Tackle: light bars and lines 6-12 lb; poppers, spinners, spoons, small spark plugs.
Trahira Giants (Hoplias lacerdae)
Looks like a prehistoric monster, a giant line of raptures throughout the Amazon and Tocantins river valleys but not found in all rivers in this system. The body is rod-shaped dark gray to reddish brown, and the large mouth is lined with conical teeth. Trahira prefers shallow, slow and rocky water which facilitates ambush prey. They can grow up to 40 kilograms. The Von den Steinen River has recently been recognized as a reliable producer of giant breed for sport fishermen. Not only are river rock beds ideal for trahira, they have been designated as catchment and release areas, which protect these predators. Use medium-heavy casting wheels and lines of 20 to 30 pounds to dive and lure surfaces. The propeller-type topwater bait works very well, and don’t forget the steel leader. Natural lures such as whole fish or pieces on 8/0 hooks also tempt giant trahira.