The world is sick and I don't mean sick in the urban dictionary way of meaning "cool".
It's far from cool, corrupt leaders and masses of mostly dumbass people combined seems to be the perfect mix for a
quick and effective destruction of any dreams about a bright future ahead.
Greed rules and incredible stupidity follows... Too many people still believe the few heads in charge really care about
them or a healthy future on this planet.
Others argue with complete strangers on the internet about topics of which usually both parties don't have any real understanding. Meanwhile some smarter people make sure that the arguing parties social media feeds are always fed with more content which agrees with their believes/wishes and/or feeds their anger.
I personally believe that with such strategics, way too many people are kept busy so they can't even realise/process what that freakin' mess which is taking place since years!
As if the our situation wouldn't already be scary enough, there comes a fckin pandemic to shut down massive parts of our daily lives worldwide!
Well this blog, post or whatever you call, it isn't really about Covid-19 as I am not educated in medical matters nor do I have a sufficient understanding of pandemics and alike. Project Bassthumb is still and will be a fishing blog, that's what I like to do and of what I have a bit of knowledge, I would say.
If you are following this website for some time, you probably know that the last post on here is over a year ago from my last Peacock Bass adventure. Then, I arrived back home from Colombia just days before most of the world got it's first shutdown in the Covid-19 history. So all my planned fishing trips got canceled and I basically had nothing to tell fishing-wise...
Due to the pandemic, travelling basically was made impossible.. at least for silly reasons like fishing or leisure in general. So I washed my hands, kept distance and stayed home as commanded by the scientists and government. Construction work was always allowed so I kept working but the rest of my time I spent home. If you got so much time to yourself you either start arguing about the latest restrictions with complete strangers on the internet or you use this time to think...
Since I don't see any sense in trying to spread my beliefs about topics I barely know anything about, I started thinking on why I have been spending my past years mostly with saving up money, just to pay another week or two of fishing...
Sometimes I think to myself "Man, you're 27 years old now, you probably should get a girl, plan a family and get some further education in order to provide for your family..."
But on the other hand, there's always my demons telling me that I probably won't be lucky enough to find someone to build a family with.
Well, I still live on hope and I'm sure that one day the whole family thing will happen for me. Good things take some time and if not, it probably wasn't meant to be. Why would the world need more of my genes anyway...
But that's not even the thing that concerns me the most, it's that huge fear, that soon there won't be good fishing on this planet. At least nothing where you don't have to pay horrendous prices in order to get to a spot where access is only allowed to the rich. I mean, if I compare fishing stories from 20-30 years ago to the fishing successes I experienced so far by myself, it already makes me sad. I don't even want to imagine the situation in a couple of years...
It's no secret, that fish populations and with it the sportfishing success has been declining over the last years. Whether I fish in Colombia, Cuba or back home in Switzerland, wherever I go, i hear the same "you should have seen the fishing here 20 years ago".
I myself experienced this first hand on our beloved lake of Lugano (Lago di Lugano) in the south of Switzerland. 15-20 years ago it counted as probably the best lake for Largemouth Bass in Europe. I never experienced the really golden years of this lake myself, since I was still too young then. When I finally made it down there over 10 years ago, the bass fishing was still solid and I caught my first Bass of my life, which probably is to blame for my obsession with all kinds of bass-fishing to this day. Thanks again to Housi for showing a kid how to fish, big love!
While I got fixed on this cool style of fishing, the hype built up and anglers of all kinds travelled to this lake to get a shot at these wonderful fish. With the masses also come the unexperienced anglers that will fuck up fish as well as a lot of idiots that only care about their perfect catch picture but not the health of their catch and of course lots of people that have to throw every catch on their grill too. This plus several other influences, mostly somehow caused by greedy humans, lead to a rapid and harsh decline of the only real swiss bass-fishing. Within only a few years, this lake changed from an awesome fishery to the sad reality of today whereI count myself lucky if I get to watch one bass, which any lure probably will spook away since it has been caught over and over again...
There's ton of other examples worldwide and my beloved Peacock Bass fishery isn't safe from it neither. As every halfway educated human should know by now, the rainforest is getting raped, looted and destroyed!
When I first learned about Peacock Bass, I always imagined that I will do such a fishing adventure when I'm all grown up, financially stable and probably in early retirement.
Right now I'm far away from retirement nor in a healthy financial situation BUT I already spent almost 20 weeks of fishing in the jungle. Why? Well, probably because it's one of a few things that brings moments of pure happiness to my life BUT at the same time there is this huge anxiety inside me.
The big apprehension that by the time I reach that chapter in my life where I could really afford my dream fishing trips, there won't be any good fisheries left on this planet...
So that's why I spent the last couple of years basically just saving up money for the next fishing trip to get at least a tiny part, of what hasn't been destroyed yet, for myself. I've done some pretty stupid things in favour of the next trip, like neglecting my dating life or quitting university so I can work, earn money and afford another fishing adventure.
Right now, I try to keep the whole situation more balanced but new fishing ideas always come to my mind and with it the question of 'em all: "How TF can I afford that...?"
Well, usually the answer is simple: "I can't!" and that's ok, I mean you can't have everything in life. Doing 5-10 fishing trips a year, to some of the most remote parts of the world, is most definitely far, far away from realistic for any person with just a normal income, even if I live and work in Switzerland where we get paid better compared to other countries (the fact that everything also costs more here usually gets forgotten but that's not the point here anyway).
So while my wish-list of fishing trips grows and grows, my anxiety grows too. Realising that nature worldwide gets destroyed day in, day out is scary and frustrating at the same time...
By now I'm just trying to somehow not think too much about it which is hard if your brain seems to be in a constant overthinking-mood. If I had to describe that state in a song it has to be "Trouble on my Mind - Tyler, the Creator".
I can't have everything but whenever I get a chance to do some fishing I will take it, as long as it is still possible to fish. That brings us to the main reason of this post which comes with a big question: Is it reasonable to travel around half the globe just for fishing while the world is in a pandemic?
Of course there's always a lot of other questions with that, for example if it's reasonable at all to fly such distances for a fishing or other leisure trip? I don't feel like it is but that's not the question here. I'm not better than any other person taking flights which aren't really necessary but then again who am I to judge over what is necessary and what not...
Back to the pandemic question or better, why would I even ask such a question? Because I did exactly that. Back in fall 2020, the world seemed to be in a tight grip of the Covid-19 virus. Traveling to other countries seemed almost impossible and so I decided that the Peacock Bass season 2020 will happen without me, as much as it hurts.
I was almost relieved as my financial situation wouldn't allow a longer stay anyways.
Late in January 2021 I got a message from one of my fishing connections in Colombia who asked me if I wanted to come fishing for a week despite the whole pandemic. I got a special offer because it was kinda like a last minute booking to fill up a group. Since my return from Colombia in February 2020 I had been working non stop, so why would I use up vacation days if I couldn't do much anyway, right?
I found out that traveling to Colombia is possible with a negative PCR test and a lot of forms of which some are a real pain in the ass to fill out. So I accepted the invitation and within two weeks or so I had to organise the whole trip.
At the same time as I got my negative PCR-test results, the Swiss government put Colombia back on it's high-risk list which means that I have to go into quarantine for 10 days, with no compensation payments for the work days that I will miss, after my return.
I decided to go anyway, not because I thought it was a really smart idea but if you read the part above you probably can imagine why... I boarded the flight in Zurich with mixed feelings which held on during the whole trip. I asked myself if that's right and if I even deserve to do such a thing. I don't really know why I should but then again a very smart and life-experienced guy once told me, on another jungle trip a few years ago, that I too deserve to be happy.
The travel went surprisingly flawless, on my transfer in Madrid I only had to show my PCR test to board the plane and also the arrival in Colombia went without any problems. In Bogota and also in Puerto Carreno (a small city on the edge of the jungle from which we headed out to the river) everybody was wearing masks, besides that life seemed mostly to go like it did the years before when I was visiting.
This time I fished a river that I only knew from hearing before so I was quite curious. It was said to get fished a lot by the Colombians because it's accessible by road which makes it interesting for shorter trips over the weekends too.
The operator promised me to be fishing way up river where there should be spots that haven't been fished way less than the lower parts.
on the way to the camp, casually carrying a freezer on top
While driving up to the camp I already spotted a lot of interesting structures and by the moment of arriving in the camp I had made up a plan on how to find the big fish, the ones I'm interested in.
Because I traveled alone I shared the boat with another angler that came without a partner. Really nice, funny guy to talk to but he didn't believe in my theories and so we ended up fishing a whole lot different than I hoped to do. In my opinion we missed a lot of great spots or fished in wrong places but as mentioned before, you can't always have it your way. For the sake of a friendly atmosphere I kept my mouth shut and focused as much as possible on my fishing. I lost all bigger fish but at least I could definitely prove my theory on that one afternoon when my partner left for camp early and I got two hours of fishing alone.
Beautiful beaches instead of fish since I didn't catch much the first days...
Well, I caught this one from our camp's beach while the rest was still waking up.
To everyone's surprise I caught my first Surubi catfish ever, on a glidebait!
Got to observe some stunning wildlife.
Surprise catch while driving back to base camp so the rest of the group could move to the Payara camp.
Caught this nice Payara on a short stop on our way back down.
While the rest of the group moved to another camp to do Payara fishing for the rest of the week, I was given the generous opportunity to stay alone in the lower camp to get another shot at some big Peacock Bass, the reason why I do these trips. The only "problem", the lower camp is located in the heavily fished area, the promising spots up river 6-7 hours away - unreachable at that moment. Once again, can't have everything.
I gave it my everything anyways, fished hard from dawn to dusk, always with hope in mind that there will come THAT one bite from my dream Peacock Bass monster! Well, the monster didn't shop up this time but in the end I still got my hands on one or two nice fish per day. The thing that makes me somehow proud is that I seem to have learned a couple of things about Peacock Bass fishing by now, I start to see patterns and choose lures according to the present spot and situation instead of just trying to get a fish to bite a specific lure just because I like that one.
biggest fish for the week with 17lb!
Caught my first Royal Peacock Bass (Cichla intermedia)!
I always wanted to catch one of these even if the don't grow very big, I like their patterns.
I remember when I lost the only one I ever hooked before a couple seasons ago, damn I was pissed^^
Hardest fighting fish of the trip and it's colors were just stunning!
btw. I didn't place the lure for the pic, the fish was hooked exactly like this. When stars align....
Only fish of my second day of "real" fishing for me.
After no contacts all day long I asked the guide to make a stop on this beach on our way back to camp and it paid off.
Croc chillin' on the beach
Sunsets are always a nice bonus after a hard day of fishing...
Regarding the fact that until a few weeks before I hadn't even expected to be there this season, I was happy. In addition we could observe several cool animals which I hadn't seen on all my trips before.
Another first see for me - a Capybara
Such cool creatures to observe but as with all other animals there too, they prefer to be left alone.
After a rather exhausting but interesting week in the heat of the jungle and savannah I headed back to Bogota where I had a couple of extra days in the hotel before me. Not because I wanted to do some sightseeing but because I needed some time to get another PCR test which was required for flying back home. The testing went surprisingly uncomplicated and also cost a bit less than what I had to pay in Switzerland.
For the mathematicians: Switzerland (Biel/Bienne BE test center) - $160 / Colombia (Bogota Airport test center) - $90
That was it, after not even two weeks, I was back in Switzerland and literally got driven from the airport directly to the work office since we had some urgent case. I ended up working until from 9pm to 4am and the following day again from 8am to 5pm. What a welcome back celebration!
Even if I didn't catch my monster Peacock Bass this time, it felt so good to escape the whole Covid-19 craziness and the cold, grey Swiss winter weather for a couple of days. Once again I'm very thankful for another great life experience.
So after we know how I did fishing-wise, now back to the question of this post:
Is it reasonable to travel around half the globe just for fishing while the world is in a pandemic?
I guess the simplest answer would be a big fat NO! At least if you listen to the advice of most experts (and I mean the studied ones with medical background, once again not your bored uncle on facebook..) which clearly orders to stay home whenever possible. A fishing trip is definitely luxury leisure and not a necessity at all, in my humble opinion. So why did I do it anyways? Because I didn't feel like I would put me in a high risk situation nor risking other's health. As mentioned before, I worked through the whole pandemic so far, mostly on construction sites where contact to other people sometimes can't be avoided, I kept myself fit with outdoor sports to strengthen my immune system plus I don't belong to any sort of high-risk groups. If that really is reason enough to travel during a pandemic, I don't know, I'm no medical or pandemic expert. The whole traveling was legal, with all the extra documents and PCR testing just way more complicated but I didn't break any rules.
In the end, I guess, everyone has to decide for him-/herself if he wants to endure such a "vacation"...
Was it worth it? - To me personally, yes. All the extra efforts to get to travel are annoying as f... but I was just glad to see the jungle again even if a big part of the fishing time wasn't always just fun.
I have to admit that before I was ok with not going but when I got that last minute offer I somehow couldn't say no. There's was this anxiety inside me again that told me that I might not get many chances to see the rainforest and its fish ever again. So I wouldn't say I just wanted to go, I somehow had to and I'm not really sure if that's healthy thinking... I might never find the correct answer to so many question and concerns but one thing I know for sure, I have to go back to the jungle and get me my dream Peacock Bass!
That was probably the situation when I was at the highest risk of the whole trip.
No COVID-19 in sight but if the fish pins my arm with the loose treble and takes of with the other still in its mouth,
then I would have been fucked for real...
Thank you for reading of you made it until the end! As always please feel free to share this article with your friends if you think it's worth sharing. In case you have some thoughts yourself that you want to share, feel free to contact me anytime via social media or email.
Stay healthy, take care on each other and tight lines!