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Hooking up with
Short of a nuclear submarine, these fish are the most bad-ass, finned killing machines that can be found in western hemisphere water.
FRESHWATER DORADO are built like a spectacularly- colored King Salmon. They’re the muscle-cars of tropical angling and come stock from the fish factory loaded with power, bad attitude, and ready for a fight.
The creature has only two modes of behavior: kill, and reproduce.They are fearless, aggressive, and so mean they eat anything smaller that swims within range, including each other and their young.
In the juvenile stage Dorado swim in small circles chewing at each other’s tails, and it’s rare for a smaller Dorado to not have part of it’s tail missing, by some relative.
As voracious as they are, Dorado are not always easy to catch.They’re a smart predator, often becoming selective feeders, and always focusing on prey in situations where they can maximize their assault, killing as many as possible while expending as little energy as is necessary.
These savage, migratory predators spend their entire life in freshwater, spawning or chasing migrating baitfish (sabalo) the size of a shad. Most Dorado follow a predictable, annual up and downstream migration of sabalo, positioning themselves below rapids or beneath logs and structure where prey tend to congregate.They show no mercy and will chase them into inches of water.
Dorado are highly adaptive creatures and can thrive in tiny mountain creeks, clear freestone rivers and streams, as well as enormous, muddy water rivers. The fishing situations range from sight casting in shallow riffles, casting to fish that are in the midst of maniacal feeding frenzies, hunting for large bachelors lurking tiny pocket water (like trout fishing in New Zealand), swinging streamers through pools like salmon fishing, or casting to fish that lie in ambush behind or between sub-surface trees, logs, and rocks.
The strike of a mature Dorado can be either subtle or violent, but when the fish feels the steel, all hell breaks loose. The battle is usually violent, with the fish going airborne immediately. Combat is punctuated with explosive bursts of power, relentless line-stripping runs, breathtaking acrobatic leaps, and tailwalking attempts to toss a hook.
Dorado are exceptionally strong and broken rods are common. The violent strike of a Dorado is an assault by a deadly weapon, and the burly torpedoes have been known to rip a rod right out of an angler’s hands. Strikes like that quickly make one forget the price of admission attached to these angling holidays.
They lie still but visible in the current, and move quickly to hammer topwater flies or recklessly attack streamers.
Locals in the northern provinces of Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay have been rabid Dorado anglers for generations. Now, since the discovery of a few isolated, fly fisherman-friendly, clear jungle rivers and marshlands where sight fishing is the rule rather than the exception, the quarry is enjoying a tremendous burst of popularity with traveling U. S. anglers.
The first Dorado of the season begin their upstream migration in April or May depending on the intensity of the rainy season. By mid-May huge schools of baitfish are colliding with predator dorado near Tsimane and the other great rivers of Bolivia. By July, both the Dorado and their prey are well into the river systems. In northern Argentina, on the Corrientes, in the Pirayu marshlands, and in the rivers near Salta, the peak of Dorado and forage fish migration occurs in September, October and all of the month of November.
There’s little argument that the best, and most reliable trophy Dorado fishing with a fly rod is in North-Central Bolivia, where rivers and streams usually run clear from May through October, and fish can be quietly stalked on foot and spotted from the jungle- lined bank.
Michael Caranci photo

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