...or my first experiences working in the tourism sector.
It all started last summer when I tried to organize another fishing trip to the jungle for this season. After lots of discussions and calculations I had to come to conclusion that I can’t afford it. So I informed one of the operators which I was in contact with.
He was like “well, if you can stay for a couple of weeks you can come help me out in the camp and stay here for free”.
Wow, I wasn’t expecting this. I have some experience with Peacock Bass fishing but otherwise I had no idea plus my Spanish is still pretty basic.
I was hyped and skeptical at the same time, almost six weeks with most time in the jungle AND fishing (which I once was told I would be able to do with every group) sounded awesome! At the same time I was thinking about my job back home. Not that I’m building on a big career at the moment (I safe this for later in my life or at least think I will) but I felt kind of bad to leave the guys there in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year.
But then again I told myself that this is probably a once in a lifetime chance and I might regret passing on this one later in life. Right now I don’t have any responsibilities but myself anyway so when not now, when then.
Plus I saw it as an ideal chance to get out of my comfort zone and work on my social skills since working in a fishing camp sounded like I would have to do a lot of talking and explaining to complete strangers.
So when I got the ok from my boss I knew it was on! (at this point a huge thanks to my boss for being so nice)
During the months before this adventure, I never got a lot or exact information on what my duties and functions during this trip will be. I was told that I will be helping out the owner of the operation and since I already had been on trips with him I felt pretty safe despite the lack of info.
Middle of January, the time had finally come and I boarded a plane towards Bogota.
On my arrival there, the first surprise. Other than a free day in Bogota before heading to the jungle, I had to get a transfer early in the morning the next day to a different airport due to a lack of tickets for the original flight. The one guest from the coming who had to come with me was pissed that he couldn’t explore Bogota like the rest of his friends and barely talked to me during this 3 hour taxi ride. He only brightened up when he saw our plane, you know those small planes you sometimes see in the news… partly.
Well he was excited, I was a bit scared but we made it to our destination.
The big surprise awaited me in the hotel when I found out that I wouldn’t see my boss in camp but that I have to do the whole thing on my own. Everything from receiving the groups at the airport until they are back in the plane a week later. All that without any experience and in collaboration with the owner of the fishing camp, a local who only speaks spanish. So here I am with my very basic Spanish skills, listening to this guy explaining me the whole procedure for the next day. To say I understood half of it would be a lie.
Which was kind of scary regarding the fact they expected me to basically translate all exchanges between guests and camp staff/guides.
Well, I guess you could say this adventure just got a bit more adventurous.
I panicked for a bit but then collected myself and tried to look at it as a learning experience.
Since I’ve been a guest on such trips before I wanted to try my best to make the guests experience as awesome as possible. Because that’s what I would expect from a guide too.
When we arrived with the whole fishing group in camp the next day I was already a bit relieved. The week itself wasn’t really what I would call an easy start in a guiding career. First of all most of them weren’t too excited of the idea of me fishing with them. Only two guys were so nice to allow me to join their boat to help them landing the fish and translating with their guide. Luckily for me, a few days they decided to end fishing early and so I could fish some hours in the evening. Otherwise I didn’t get to fish as I was once promised.
In addition I got again and again blamed for things that weren’t as promised when they booked their trip. All things that I didn’t have any idea about which didn’t make it easier for me. On the end of this week, when the guests all were safely in the plane to Bogota, I wasn’t too sure about this “great chance” anymore.
I wouldn’t have been sad if I had to go back home right at this moment, which never happened to me before after a fishing trip. Usually I’m devastated that the week passed so quickly.
my first fish of the season 2020
my biggest Mariposa so far with 8lb
biggest of the week for me
when I told the guest that this spinnerbait is too weak he wouldn't believe me... well, he lost a 20lber.
for one second I thought I had the Peacock Bass of my dreams on...
Giving up wasn’t on my agenda though and so I went back to the hotel to wait for the next group. Which turned out great because the following group was a bunch of the nicest people I’ve ever met while fishing. This plus some fun guides (the motoristas, like the guys who navigate the fishing boats are called here, change each week so that various people of this tribe have a chance to work something interesting) resulted in a great experience for everybody. Since they were uneven numbered there was a space open on of the boats so they let me fish too which made the week even better.
I didn’t catch any really big fish but I couldn’t care less since most of them caught huge trophies which made me happy too. Unfortunately my fishing partner lost his well-deserved big fish to the trees, it seemed like I was more devastated than he was. But hey, just another reason to repeat this trip the next season which I’d be more than about.
When this group left I was a bit sad but at the same time highly motivated to do once again my best for the coming groups.
when you fish with flyguys you gotta show them that a jig works too^^
since I didn't catch any big fish this week, here's a picture of Pt. Inirida haven
Two days later the next group and once again the five hour journey up the river to the camp started. Once again I got lucky and ended up with some really nice guests which is one of the cornerstones of a good trip as I learned on this journey.
The start was a bit difficult since the guy I was fishing with caught good fish while the other boat barely caught any. I tried to give them any tips I could remember and on the last days they definitely out fished us. Strange thing was that when discussion the used lures/techniques we often ended up with the conclusion that we more or less do the same but with different results. Well, that’s fishing I guess and in the end everybody returned happy which is all that counts!
double hook-up with Leon
this one fought like a really big one!
after loosing all bi fish before, I finally landed this one! 18lb and strong af!
Following these three groups I was once promised to be invited in the new camp on a different river. So when the third group I expected to get transferred soon but instead a long week of waiting begun. Each day I was told that they would be working on a solution to get me there. The main problem was that the transport they planned for me wasn’t available and neither were flights. The guy who was responsible here for me was told to organize another boat to get me there. He told me if I really want to do it he will organize everything but he won’t take any responsibility since this route is too risky with the current Guerilla-situation. When he and others from the town warned me that chances are high of me getting kidnapped I finally decided not to go. But I wasn’t down to wait another 10 days around here where there’s really nothing to do. After some pressure from my side I was granted 4 days of fishing in there river from the weeks before.
Not really what I was promised but better than nothing and in the end these four days turned out pretty awesome! Plus for once it was pretty chill to spend time in the camp with only the campguard and my favorite guide/motorista, Andres who turned out to be a pretty sick photographer too as you will see in the following pictures.
nice one next to the town on an afternoon session while waiting...
Westin sent me some lures and a hat without roof, so I wear it!
thanks again Westin for the special delivery to a town without postal service!
they look bigger when you hold them out...
one of my favorite pictures of a super nice topwater fish!
my biggest fish this season and new PB, just shy of 23lb, and the most intense fight I've had so far!
nothing but respect for these fish!
another beautiful Mariposa, I got to love this smaller species - awesome fighters!
topwater works in the rain...
...and with sunshine. another entry for the 20lb club.
Back from fishing on my own I had to keep myself busy in the town, from where the trips started, for another few days until the arrival of my fourth and final group. I was so bored that I even found a gym in the town which kept me busy for at least a few hours a day. Otherwise there's really not much to do than walking around or watching TV in the hotel.
basket court in Pt. Inirida
Finally, the group arrived as expected and we were off to the jungle once again. I was told to care for two customers while their agent was fishing with a friend of his. They told me to fish too but three anglers on one boat can get quite chaotic so I spent most of the time explaining spots, rescueing lures out of trees and landing fish while always taking care to not get hit in the head by lures. I only fished behind them and made sure to let them fish the promising spots first.
It was probably the most difficult week of the whole trip, especially when the guests got good bites but didn't set the hook, but once again I learned a lot, a lot of patience too. The guests were very nice people so I always gave my best and tried to look at it as the ultimate "guide-test" or whatever.
Well, at the end of the week they seemed happy which made me happy too.
wanted to show the guests how to work a jig... aaand it worked!
my biggest fish of this week and guest Philipp. we had a blast and big respect to him for doing such trips with 82 years!
first time for me seeing these trees bloom
For once I then didn't only bring the guests back to the airport but joined them on the flight back to Bogota. My season was over and after one day in Bogota I boarded the plane back to Switzerland (5 hours late due the Corona-Virus hysteria but otherwise everything went well) and a few hours after arriving home, I had to be back on my job.
heading back to civilication
To round this all up, it wasn’t really what I expected or once was promised but I wouldn’t want to look at it negatively. Since I’m still alive I would say it was not only an adventure but also a great learning experience. I had to go way out my comfort zone over and over again which in the end was a valuable lesson for life. Achieving things that I never thought I was able to combined with the fact that communicating in Spanish wasn’t easy for me neither gave me some extra confidence.
To note down every single thing I learned/experienced would probably take up a whole book that nobody wants to read anyway so I stop right here since this is still a fishing blog.
I’m more than thankful for all the wonderful people I met during these weeks, you know who you are! There are several fishing adventures awaiting us and I really hope we will make them happen! Wherever you are, much love and tight lines!
Also a big thanks to my operator/boss/ friend who offered me this unique chance in the first place. Thanks to him I was not only able to spend some time in the jungle, away from the cold & dark weather back home, but he also put me in a position I haven't been before and made me work hard on myself! Some things money just can't buy.
Wherever fishing will take me next, bring it on! I’m ready!