Forget about drug cartels and guerilla warfare, visiting Colombia is now a wade in the Central American park since its government has settled politcal unrest problems (FARC) and driven druglords from the once-famous sportfishing rivers in Latin America.
The Mataveni River - and a few other Colombian fisheries - played a key role in the early development of sportfishing for peacock bass in South America. The first camps and exploratory trips for peacock bass and payara were started in the 70's and 80's in the Colombian jungle, by outfitter Kjell von Sneidern and his sons, Erland and Erik. What they discovered in those groundbreaking, rough-and-tumble operations was some absolutely mind-blowing fishing, angling opportunities that have been preserved in time by the closing of those few camps for the past three decades. The Mataveni is a spot that's been off-limits to anglers since the early 1980's but is once again ready to take its place among the most best and most famous peacock bass rivers on Earth, now that the Colombian government has settled political unrest problems (FARC) and driven the druglords from the region.
In the way of background, this legendary river was once home to virtually every world record peacock bass. When the region became a "No Go" zone, six of the top ten IGFA all-tackle, and many of the fly caught Peacock Bass world records came from this jungle. There are a number of world-class peacock bass rivers in Colombia and Brazil, but the Mataveni is
particularly intriguing due to its angling history, and because access to the river has been strictly and completely controlled by the local indigenous people who live on the river. Other than a few groups of wealthy Colombians, the river has gotten no attention and has rarely been fished in more than three decades. Then in late January of 2015, The Fly Shop's Mike Michalak and the first group of North Americans was allowed to fish this legendary peacock bass river. The peacock bass of the Mataveni held a welcome back reception for the Gringos and celebrated by going ballistic.
The Mataveni River is located in the "Mataven Forest" located in the southern part of Colombia's Vichada Province. Simply put, the Mataveni River holds some of the biggest peacock bass on earth. One unofficial world record (but confirmed by guides and some anglers that were present at the time of the catch) in the Mataveni is a 31lb speckled peacock caught by a Colombian angler. The river was the source of the all-tackle IGFA peacock bass record for over 25 years until a bigger fish was caught in Brazil. That same record of 26 lbs 8 ounces caught by Rod Neubert in 1982 still stands as the 12lb line class IGFA record.
Reservations & Rates
We've been there, understand these travel details, and no-one is better suited to walking you through the process, and getting you to this amazing place on schedule.
Package Cost: The cost of the week-long (9 or 10 Nights; 6 Days) Mataveni River package is $4,615.00 per person - January, Feburary, March & early-April (double occupancy).
Inclusions: Included in your angling package at the Mataveni River is one (1) overnight at Habitel Hotel in Bogota on arrival. Single Occupancy, roundtrip commercial Satena Airlines flight between Bogota and Puerto Inirida, all transfers between Puerto Inirida and Mataveni Camp, all lodging and guided fishing at the Mataveni Camp, one (1) night stay at eco-hotel in Puerto Inirida on night of departure from camp, Colombia fishing licenses, all meals at camp (including water, beer and sodas - limit of 4 beers/day/person), daily laundry service at camp (as needed), Indian Association Fee ($410), and a 7 days Global Rescue Membership.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your angling package at Mataveni River are International air fare, tips and gratuities for camp staff and guides, food and beverages in Bogota and Puerto Inirida, extra hotel overnights (including hotel accommodation on way back, if needed), fishing tackle and flies, and items of a personal nature.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
Seasons at Mataveni
The above video is from our friend, Jose Bravo. We were fortunate enough to fish the Mataveni with Jose and Violeta and it was even better than this terrific video depicts.
The fishing season on the Mataveni is January, February, March and April, which coincides with the traditional dry season there. This is the time when the bass are in the main river channel and its many lagoons and sloughs, and are easily accessible. When the rains come later, the river rises and the peacocks are able swim back into the flooded jungle, making them nearly impossible to access. During the dry season both the large temensis bass and the smaller and super-aggressive butterfly are available daily, and while there are other species in the river (payara, wolf fish, piranha, etc), you should expect to focus almost exclusively on the peacocks. Expect hot weather here – it is in a jungle – but typically evenings are cool enough to sleep comfortably.
Getting to Mataveni
Boats are the key mode of transportation for this adventure!
Getting to the Mataveni River isn't difficult. Anglers fly to Bogotá and overnight at the Habitel on the night of arrival. It's a fine hotel with convenient shuttle service, and is only minutes from the modern airport. Early the next morning travelers return to the Bogotá International Airport for a 2-hour flight to Puerto Inírida. Both the hotel and internal domestic flights are included in the package. Once the fishing group has collected their luggage, they are taken to the Orinoco River harbor and board a swift boat for a 3-hour boat ride downstream to the mouth of the Mataveni then upstream to the first of the the two rustic, but comfortable base camps used during the week. The first day is a long one, interesting because of the constantly changing topography and scenery, and not arduous. Safari style Camping trips are the only way to arrange expeditions to the Mataveni River. There are 6 full days of action-packed fishing in the near all-inclusive package. At the conclusion anglers spend the day returning to the village of Puerto Inírida, overnighting in a
very comfortable local hotel, and return to Bogotá the next day in time to connect with US bound flights home.
Sample Itinerary Day 1: Fly from the States to Bogotá, overnight Day 2: Fly from Bogotá to Puerto Inírida – 1 hour flight on Satena Air – transport to camp via boats Days 3-8: Six full days of fully guided fishing on the Rio Mataveni Day 9: Return to Puerto Inírida and overnight Day 10: Return to Bogotá and on to your final destination
We highly recommend the services of Alicia Regueiro at Holdy Tours – she is well-versed in South American travel and provides one-stop shopping from home to Colombia to home. You can reach Alicia at 800-446-1111, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lodging at Mataveni
Very comfortable tents and blowup beds make for comfortable lodging on the Mataveni River!
Mataveni Camps are rustic, but very comfortable, housing 8 anglers a week. Situated on large white sand bars, the single occupancy tents we'll be using in 2016 are very spacious and equipped with comfortable air mattresses. Laundry is done daily, and linen is changed daily. The large, tarped dining areas are more than adequate, and the food is pretty good. Lunch is eaten in the field, and cocktails on the river shoreline are accompanied by a cacophony of jungle sounds and accented by a nightly lightshow provided by millions of fireflies dancing in the thick foliage lining the
river bank. Beer, juice and soda are part of the package, though guests wanting hard liquor should plan on bringing their own. This is no Holiday Inn in the jungle. It is a very comfortable, mobile, traditional camp which is moved partway through the week to expose anglers to a continually fresh complement of fishing waters. There is a shower and toilet facility though most anglers bathe in the river. The starlit nights are magnificent and anglers are lulled to sleep at night by the sounds of the jungle animals and birdlife.
Fishing at Mataveni
The main draw at the Mataveni are the Temensis peacock bass, fish which are routinely caught in the 10-20 pound size range. On each of the few trips we've been a part of, fish over 20 pounds have been landed and weighed, fish which are considered giants anywhere in the world of peacock bass. The peacock Orinocensis (Butterfly) species in the Mataveni reach impressive sizes with some fish topping 12 lbs or more (which is a world-class Butterfly), and anglers who simply want to rack up big numbers of fish on a fly rod will find the Mataveni to be a haven for loads of Butterfly peacocks, hard-pulling fish averaging 3-6 pounds. It is telling that with only one season under his belt on this amazing river, outfitter Alex Zapata has already seen several new line-class records set.
The Mataveni River is nearly 400 miles long, all of it inside the boundary of a huge Indian reserve, and sportfishermen have visited less than half of the river and its tributaries. The native Piaroas are allowing fishing only 2 weeks a month in only a 14-week window of 2016, a total of only 7 groups of 8 anglers during their entire season. Their permission is needed to enter the river, and the tribe provides the only guided fishing on the Mataveni. Accordingly, trips here are very logistic sensitive. The participation of the natives and the difficulties in obtaining reservations are, in part, why the experience is so intriguing and spectacular. Only four (4) weeks of the short, (January through mid-April) season will be available to North American anglers during 2016.
Our two groups in January and late March of 2015 were the first fly rodders on the river in more than thirty years and the native guides were impressed by our conservation ethic. Subsequently they have declared the river
exclusively catch–and-release, and treble hooks are no longer allowed. Each day teams of two anglers fish one of the beats in the river (nearly all in the numerous lagoons that branch off of the main river), with a local Indian guide, in wide-bodied, 30-foot boats. They are simple, stable and effective fishing craft, and are powered by 30-hp outboard motors. Fly rodders move up or downriver, nosing into one lagoon after another, with the guide trading the motor for a paddle to move you slowly down the stillwater shorelines. The boats are plenty long enough to allow both anglers to fish at once, and the fishing is a mixture of blind-casting to structure, and sight-casting to "floaters" - beautiful big bass that often hover and cruise just beneath the water's surface.
Equipment and Flies:
For the larger temensis bass, 8 and 9 weight rods are perfect, matched with reels capable of putting the brakes on a 20-pound finned locomotive. Rio Tropical Outbound Short floaters and intermediates are the lines of choice, capable of delivering large streamers and poppers a long distance quickly and effortlessly. Leaders are simple affairs - 6-8 foot lengths of 30 or 40-pound fluorocarbon. Anglers seeking IGFA line class records will want to come prepared with appropriate Bimini Twist class leaders. Flies are comprised primarily of large, synthetic-hair streamers – Gerson Peacock Baitfish or Peacock Cruiser are two favorite patterns, though many streamers in the 6-10-inch range can be effective. For those seeking the thrill of a huge peacock exploding on a surface fly, we recommend large, foam-headed poppers that move a lot of water on each strip of the retrieve; you cannot make too much surface disturbance for these aggressive beasts.
Making Reservations to Mataveni
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.