Our first stop will be at Pirarucú, located within the Mamirauá Reserve, about 600 km west of Manaus. Mamirauá is a complex of lakes, lagoons, and channels between the Solimões River and the Japura River. Mamirauá was the first Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil, designated by the Government of Amazonas in 1996, and remains the largest arapaima reserve in the world at 1,124,000 hectares—over 4,000 square miles. Although we will be targeting the massive, air-breathing arapaima, we will also be looking to hook up with other exotic jungle species like arowana and tambaqui—two hard-fighting gamefish that readily eat flies.
Although the unique fishery at Pirarucú is our primary draw to the region, you’ll quickly be amazed at the incredible nature of the place itself. The floating lodge at Pousada Uacari is nestled in a bend of a channel that connects a series of lakes and lagoons. Once settled into your cabin, you’ll be immersed in jungle, surrounded by the sights and sounds of giant arapaima rolling and splashing in all directions (and at times literally right beneath the floor)! As a bonus, the Mamirauá Reserve is one of the top birdwatching destinations in the world, and every day you’ll see countless species of birds in the trees and along the banks.
We will stay four nights at Pirarucú, with three-and-a-half days of fishing, which should give us plenty of opportunities to connect with arapaima as well as other exotic jungle gamefish. Uacari Lodge, constructed of local woods, is simple, beautiful, and very comfortable. The floating structure has a dock for the guide boats, along with a covered palapa furnished with a large table and some chairs for relaxing on the front deck. The main lodge is a two-story structure housing a kitchen, dining room, and bar (with a few couches for lounging). There are a total of five guest cabins, all connected with wooden walkways. All cabins have full ensuite bathrooms with flush toilets and good hot-water showers.
The lodge is eco-friendly and runs entirely on solar electricity. Rooms are spacious with lots of screened-in windows, with additional ventilation provided by bedside and ceiling fans. If you need to connect with the outside world, the wi-fi is fairly reliable, though slow.
The fishing is done in teams of two using specially designed fly fishing boats, accompanied by both a fly fishing guide and a local native guide. Because each boat is equipped with two large casting platforms, both anglers will have flies in the water all day. You’ll want an 11- or 12-weight outfit for arapaima, as well as an 8- or 9-weight for other species.
Exploring the tributaries and lagoons at Pirarucú will provide an ideal introduction to the rhythm of the jungle, before we head out to the Rio Marié to tackle its legendary peacock bass—some of the hardest-hitting and hardest-pulling freshwater gamefish on the planet.
After breakfast and saying goodbye to our new friends at Pirarucú, we’ll take a quick boat ride back to the village of Tefe, where we will meet a floatplane coming from Manaus, then continue on to the mothership for a week of chasing the largest peacock bass in the world.
In the opinion of Brazilian government biologists, Rio Marié has more double-digit peacock bass—and a higher percentage of trophy specimens—than any other river in the Amazon. At more than 350 miles by floatplane from Manaus, it also is the most remote river in the region. Through a joint venture with the local indigenous community, each week of the short 10-week season gives 8 anglers exclusive fly fishing-only access to a protected area that encompasses more than 400 miles of virgin water.
As at Pirarucú, anglers will fish in teams of two, with one professional English-speaking fly fishing guide and a local native guide in specially designed boats. These wide-bodied, 20-foot center consoles have two casting platforms—one at either end of the boat—so both anglers can fish at the same time. They are powered by 90-hp, 4-stroke outboards, as well as remote-controlled electric motors. And the mobile mothership, the Untamed Amazon, allows us to find and stay on the fish—no matter where they are in the basin.
When targeting large peacock bass, we will be casting large streamers to structure, using 8 or 9-weight rods with aggressive, jungle-tapered fly lines. There will also be sight-fishing opportunities for smaller butterfly peacocks over white-sand shoals and beaches. The Untamed Amazon will anchor in a different place every day, allowing unprecedented access to new tributaries and lagoons.
Each day teams of two anglers fish one of the beats in the Marié River (including tributaries and lagoons), with one professional English-speaking fly fishing guide and a local Indian guide in specially designed fishing boats. These wide-bodied, 20-foot boats have two casting platforms (one at either end of the boat so both anglers can fish at the same time), a center console, and are powered by 90hp, 4-stroke motors, as well as remote-control electric motors. We will be casting 8 – 9 weight rods, with jungle tapered fly lines and large streamers, to structure for large peacock bass. There are also sight fishing opportunities for smaller butterfly peacocks over white sand shoals and beaches.
When: November 28 - December 10, 2020
Your Host: Peter Fong
Availability: 6 - 8 rod
The Untamed Amazon, our lodge for the week, is a three-story, state-of-the-art mothership, specifically designed for river navigation and low environmental impact. The vessel has its own sewage treatment plant as well as an advanced system for solar-power generation and storage—including 96 German solar panels and 3 tons of Hitachi batteries. Propulsion is provided by twin 200-hp engines.
The main deck of the Untamed Amazon has 8 guest suites—each 18 square meters in size. Six of these are double suites, each of which can accommodate two guests in super single beds, with private bathroom, air-conditioning, and plenty of space for clothes and gear. The remaining two suites are designed to accommodate single guests, with similar amenities. All suites feature outside-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows.
• November 29 through December 03, 2020
• 4 nights and 3 and a half days fishing is $3,995 per person plus $390 native fee
• December 03 through 10, 2020
• 7 nights and six days fishing is $7,325 per person plus $670 native fee
All total we will be gone two weeks, door to door and I can’t be more excited about our adventure. BIG fish, are BIG fish, no matter where they live. Like the taimen in Mongolia that I have pursued and guided for more than a decade, I look forward to putting those decades of knowledge and experience to use and sharing with each and every one of you on the Arapaima at Pirarucú Lodge and the trophy Peacock Bass on the Rio Marie’. Come join me - Peter.
Writer and conservationist Peter W. Fong has been the head guide at Mongolia River Outfitters for more than a decade. His stories and photographs have appeared in American Angler, Fly Fisherman, Gray’s Sporting Journal, the New York Times, and many other publications. In 2018, he led a first-ever scientific expedition from the headwaters of Mongolia’s Delgermörön River to Russia’s Lake Baikal. His first novel, Principles of Navigation, won the inaugural New Rivers Press Electronic Book Competition. Over the past twenty years, he and his family have lived in Pray, Montana; Woodstock, Vermont; Tokyo, Japan; Shanghai, China; Noord, Aruba; and Tangier, Morocco.
For a full itinerary and all the trip details, please contact The Fly Shop at firstname.lastname@example.org