This was my original text for the video project "SA-AN - Fascination Peacock Bass" which is available on youtube now!
It turned out wax too long and in the end I rewrote the whole dialog an hour before recording the narrowing for the video so I will share the full text on here as the written report for that extraordinary fishing trip. - Enjoy!
Compared to this adventure, my trips in the past were rather easy - flying to a city close to the jungle, more or less comfortably cruising to a camp on the river, setting up all my stuff, fishing for a couple of days and then the same way back home. Mostly well organized, in a known area with a camp which is set up
with all necessities. Easy stuff if you dont mind some insects and a bit of heat.
This one was far away from the normal standards that I was used to. Beto from Fish Colombia offered to take me on a explorary trip, which means that we would go way up one of the rivers where barely any tourists before us ever set foot on nor fished there.
Fishing wise, a trip like this can turn out to be a big hit but also a total failure because well, theres basically no information from previous trips there.
So there we go, Beto, Matt who at that time worked as fishing guide/host for Beto, Adrien for the filming and myself. Joined by a handful locals and representatives of native indians of the Punian tripe which live on that part of the river and gave us permission to fish there. More about them in a bit.
We started our expedition out of Puerto Inirida, a colorful city at the outlines of the jungle in the state of Guainia. The city can only be reached by boat or once a day by plane, mail here arrives once a week by plane too. So, sometime in january on a morning around 3am we found ourselves at the port of Inirida, loading our stuff in a boat and off we went.
None of the four of us really knew what to expect, we were told that we had to cross several rapids on the way up, duration of the trip approximately 10-12 hours.
Crossing rapids I knew from a earlier trip where we had to get out the boat and walk around a rock while the guide drove through it himself, for security reasons.
This time was next level, unloading the boat, carrying everything through the landscape and pushing the boats over land uphill, holy shit - intense to say the least! Not once, not twice but seven or eight times. After a couple of times I lost count... I've never done cross fit but from what I saw on social media so far this must be really close.
During the boat rides between we could observe some pretty impressive jungle landscape, the prettiest parts where usually where we would have to stop for another session of carry our shit and pull the boat so I would describe it as a rather bittersweet sightseeing tour.
Without any daylight left, we finally arrived 16 hours later in one of the indian communities where we set up base camp.
We were welcomed by curious locals who told us that within the last 10 years less than 15 tourists before us made it that far upriver and only one of them for fishing... We werent sure if thats a good or bad sign for our fishing but we were about to find out!
Our Fishing Week
Full of hope, we hop out of our tents a couple of hours after being welcomed by this indigenous community the night before. My first thought “Wow, this amazing! It’s so peaceful here and I love those palmtrees!” And that’s a lie, I was probably thinking about how I will catch the world record on the first cast, getting famous and then finally getting to fish such trips for free but the first one sounded way more inspiring, didn’t it?!
Anyways, shortly after breakfast we finally headed out to the big lagoon where we were supposed to fish for the coming days. First impression, this lagoon is gigantic, there must be big fish in here! My euphoria finally dropped back to normal levels as I didn’t catch the world record Peacock Bass on the first casts, I didn’t catch anything at all but of course kept casting. We quickly figured out that the water level in this lagoon was already pretty low, bummer we should have come a couple of weeks earlier for perfect conditions. But we kept fishing and soon found certain spots where it was still deep enough to provide comfortable habitat for our friends the Peacock Bass. It didn’t take long until I brought a better fish to the boat. Better indeed because the scale stopped at 19lbs, just 1 lb shy from the sought after 20lb mark. Pretty good start and a couple of casts later I even landed another fish, with 17lbs an excellent catch too. For only a moment I got careless and so the fish escaped my hand before I could pose for the camera with it. I’ll just catch another one, I thought, highly motivated from this early success. But boy was I wrong… Over the day, both boats found fish in several areas but mostly not really in the desired size. No sight of a new world record or anything close so far.
The second day then got way worse, we tried different spots but barely found any fish worth catching. Then we were told by the locals that a few weeks before, when they left the community to visit Puerto Inirida, people from another village nearby set several nets in their lagoon and probably stole big amounts of the remaining fish in there. As the water level in the lagoon was slowly sinking, more and more fish were about to leave it for the main river. A couple of nets around the entrance of the lagoon are in this situation enough to catch and kill lots of fish, big and small, with minimal effort. Even in such remote areas with very thin population, the Peacock Bass and other fish are not safe from greedy humans.
In the evening of day two we returned to camp with mixed feelings. The nets seemed to have taken a huge toll on the lagoon where we were supposed to fish for the remaining four days plus due to the low water level a lot of fish probably already moved out and were swimming around somewhere in the river. It became clear to all of us that fishing four more days in this area won’t bring us the fishing we were hoping for.
One of the locals then told us that another community lives 2 hours upriver which has several lagoons within their part of the river. A short consideration later, we decided to pack our things and drive up there early the next morning.
Fortunately, the community above agreed to let us fish and camp in their territory for the three days and they even promised us some good fishing. For the remaining of the first day they wanted to take us into a lagoon which is cut off from the main river and said to hold a lot of fish because for them it’s usually not worth the effort of getting in just to catch a fish for dinner which they can also catch in the river at their doorstep.
When we finally took off direction lagoon, the sun was already high in the sky and I started to feel feverish. Perfect combination but as this was probably the only chance to fish this spot, I just tried to ignore the whole being sick, ain’t no time for that. Next thing we found ourselves paddling on a crystal-clear creek full of all types of aquarium fish, spectacular to watch. We stopped on a point where a trail lead into deep jungle and were then told that from here we would have to pull the boats through the forest to the lagoon. One guy told me it would be around 50 meters to the lagoon. We soon found out that it was probably more than 500 meters but sometimes you just have to put in that extra effort. Beto and I couldn’t wait so we went ahead with all the small stuff that was to carry. On the first glimpse of the lagoon we directly spotted a big Peacock Bass chilling in front of us. Beautiful to watch it calmly cruising around, the blueish backfins sticking out of the water. I just had to make a cast and so I did…
Honestly, I was very uncomfortable wading kneedeep in this unknown mudd, no idea what’s all around me but I had to get that fish out. Sticking my hand underwater into a tree trying to get a hold of the fish or the lure wasn’t the smartest idea neither, I don’t even want to imagine what could have happened if the loose hook got stuck in my hand while the fish shot out the cover… Well, sometimes, on very rare occasions even I get more luck than brain and somehow all the stars aligned and I landed that fish, sunken in mudd all while remembering that my phone is still in my pocket and not in the waterproof bag where it was supposed to be. 16lbs of nature’s artwork, what a start!
Now we couldn’t wait to fish this lagoon and run back to help dragging in the boats.
Finally on the water, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Several nice Peacock Bass peacefully chilling in the treeline along the shore – almost too beautiful to cast at but then again I didn’t drag a boat through the jungle just to do sightseeing. The first minutes on the water were just unreal, spot a fish, cast the chopper lure next to it and watch it turn around and hitting the lure hard! Never ever have I seen something like this before – just amazing! We fished all the way to the end of the lagoon but at least I didn’t get any bigger fish to bite, the other boat seemed to be more successful with their streamers on flyrods… We came back to the first part of the lagoon and after a few casts we figured out how to make our topwater lures super attractive to the fish there – fast and aggressive! The reactions followed in the same manner and plenty. After getting several blow ups on camera and even landing some fish I was super happy, finally I got the most amazing part of Peacock Bass fishing on camera and can share my amazement with others, I thought to myself.
Then it started raining, not ideal for filming so we concentrated more on just fishing. Out of a sudden I remembered one thing I discovered over the last seasons – a sudden rain shower seems to activate the fish and out of a sudden they can go crazy for several minutes and as fast as the bite starts, it usually stops again. This time the rain seemed to last longer, I was already completely soaked and a feverish headache kicked in but I kept ripping my lure over the surface. On one hand, I was freaking out because the bites kept coming, crazy to watch but on the other hand I was a bit annoyed that the rain interrupted the filming as this was exactly the action I wanted on video… But of course, I completely understand that it’s not worth getting the expensive camera wet as I won’t be able to afford paying for a new one. The rain got heavier and the bites even more aggressive, from time to time I could hear Matt and Beto on the other boat screaming as the hooked another fish. Otherwise I didn’t pay much attention to anything as I was in my zone, completely focused on that next bite. Keeping balance in the small boat was already hard enough so I tried to move only the absolute necessary.
I then notice that Adrien had stopped fishing so I turn around to see what’s the problem and there he sits, filming from under his raincoat. If that’s not pure dedication, I don’t know what else is… legendary!
When I saw that, all I wanted was to provoke a few more big blow-ups so his sacrifice would pay off and I think that worked out pretty well.
What started as a rather uncertain departure upriver, turned into one of my best days in Peacock Bass fishing ever and a good example what is possible if you take good care of your territory!
All good things come to end and so did this outstanding fishing-day too. When we hopped out the dugout canoes around 5pm, I realized that I completely forgot to drink and eat since late morning. Probably not the healthiest thing to do combined with being sick but still hyped about what just happened in the last hours, we all just ignored any unpleasant feelings and prepared for another episode of tow your boat through the jungle. On the way back the rain showed once again but after a day like this nobody really cared and we were all soaked anyways. We even stopped at the mouth of the where I promptly lost another big fish. What a day!
The following night was the pure opposite of pleasant, fever, barely able to breath and headache. As we were 20 hours away from the next hospital or any other medical care I just avoided thinking about what kinda sickness I could have and basically waited in the tent for the clock to turn 5am when I could get up and prepare for fishing again.
I was out before sunrise, took another pill I got from Adrien and was somewhat ready for fishing, there was no other option anyways. We finally started the day on a beach and almost immediately got the first bites! That first beach turned out to be pretty productive, several topwater-bites made for an entertaining first hour.
We tried the next beaches too but the morning bite was already over so we changed to the lagoon which was the big plan for this day. Here it wasn’t necessary to pull the boat over land but entering was still a lot of work as we went against current and all the dead trees in the water made using the engine impossible. Finally in, the fishing fun could finally start, the lagoon looked really promising but somehow we barely got any bites. In the second part of this huge lagoon we met Beto and Matt, who went in first thing in the morning. They had caught some fish but nothing outstanding neither. All the sticks in the water made me suspect that people fished with nets here before… Most of the sticks looked rather old but there were fresher ones too and after some talking, our guide admitted that they recently found a guy using nets in there. On the other hand, he seemed to realize the bad effects these nets have plus he also told me that recently, the community discussed these issues and decided on completely forbidding net fishing in their territory. The difficult thing here is to keep the control in vast areas like this.
There were definitely still fish in this lagoon and big ones too as I had followers and bites but the ones left didn’t seem to be in the mood so we decided to spend the rest of the day on the beach where we succeeded in the morning. The day before we already reached one of my big wishes for this trip which was getting some topwater blow-ups on camera so know we wanted to get topwater attacks on drone too. We had like half a drone battery left as in the upper camp we didn’t have access to any electricity so we had to use the remaining power wisely. That beach seemed to be perfect for it as on our arrival we already saw the first fish chasing bait around on the surface. I couldn’t wait and made a cast before Adrien had the drone in the air, he got slightly pissed and I tried to retrieve my lure as slowly as possible to not provoke any bite, luckily that worked.
The interesting thing about seeing the beach from above was that we could spot several Peacock Bass hanging out in the shallow water. I didn’t expect that as the water in this river is rather murky but the green backs of the fish shine through the water, what a cool sight and very helpful to get a bite. Adrien could tell me exactly where to cast in order to make my lure perfectly pass the fish. Usually I would look for special spots on a beach to cast to, I did the same but with the difference that I had Adrien next to me shouting something like “more to the left, nooo he turned away”. It took some tries until I finally heard him say “he’s following the lure, he’s coming!” and boom there was the bite! Stressful but somehow fun fishing at the same time and I have to admit that I was way more hyped that we got the the whole thing on drone that actually catching this fish.
A bit further up the beach Adrien found some interestingly big fish but before we could reach them, the drones battery gave up… Nonetheless, we kept fishing of course and enjoyed some more good topwater action in prime golden hour light. There’s something really special to fish in the peaceful atmosphere of the sun setting in the back while in front of you any moment a big Peacock Bass could unload all his aggressions on your lure – beautiful contrast!
After two sleepless nights, I was also finally able to get some sleep again, even if it was only a couple hours but at this point I was grateful for any minute that I hadn’t to spend awake waiting for the coming morning. For the third and last day in the upper zone we had to decide on a shorter program as we had to leave in the afternoon in order to reach the lower community before dark this day. While Beto and Matt headed for the crystal clear creek to do some ultralight fishing for all kind of smaller fish, we wanted to catch some more Peacock Bass of course. We started just next to the community in the mouth of a lagoon which unfortunately seemed already too dry but the first part was still fishable. Within the first casts I got a strange bite which was followed by an even stranger fight. I quickly realized that this wasn’t a Peacock Bass but only after bringing it next to the boat I could see what it really was, a Bicuda and the biggest I’ve ever seen personally. Cool catch which brought some variety and even cooler that it bit on topwater. In the rivers I’ve fished, these fish are usually found in the 20-30 cm range, so nothing really interesting but rather annoying as they tend to attack all kind of lures and are a pain in the ass to unhook.
The good beach from the day before was just around the corner and I could already see them hunting on the surface, the bite seemed on and we didn’t have to wait long for the first bites! I produced some bites with my chopper lure while Adrien destroyed me with a freakin spoon. Not only did he get more but also caught the bigger fish. At this point I have to mention that he offered me a similar spoon to use but I refused as I wanted to catch my fish on “cool” lures, you gotta have standards, right. Of course, I realized that his technique worked well on that spot but I kept casting my lures. Whenever I saw a big fish hunting but it wouldn’t react on my topwater lure, I would follow up with the big boy aka Wide Glide in hope that the big splash would interested them in a quick, big snack. This worked pretty well and I probably would have caught a bigger fish than Adrien this morning if I didn’t lose them all. The price you pay with fishing big, heavy lures – it might look cool to catch them like this but it’s also way easier for the fish to shake it off. On another beach I finally found a fish that morning which would stuck to the Wide Glide and oh Boy how it did. Not the biggest but still managed to stuff the lure completely in its mouth. It took the lure so deep that it hit the main artery between the gills which caused heavy blood loss. Even if it seemed as it had enough power to swim away, the damage probably would have caused it to die and float up within an hour so the locals had me kill it. Even if you take as much care of the fish as possible, this can still happen and in such a case its definitely wiser to kill and use the fish, even if it hurt me to hit this beauty with the paddle. At least it ended up feeding several members of the community rather than just getting washed down the river.
For the last part of this fishing day we went back to our favourite beach where we still found some fish that apparently hadn’t yet seen our lures despite the blazing midday sun. The big ones seemed to relax in the shade or maybe just had enough of our tricks.
So yes, the best lure this morning was definitely a dumb spoon and no I won’t pack any spoons for next season... or maybe I will, if I find a cool one.
The afternoon we spent driving down river to our basecamp what made us miss out on a possible evening feeding frenzy but as always in life, you can’t have everything and we surely already got enough action the last days.
For the last day, I set myself one goal and that was to catch one big fish over 15lbs.
The morning already started not as planned as we were told that some members of the community had some business to do and took off with the engines we were using the first days. All that was left was one boat with a tiny engine and a dugout canoe without any motorisation. All four of us plus two guides hoped in that one boat and the dugout got packed on top. So instead of the usual half an hour to reach the lagoon it took us around 2 hours to just reach the lagoon and once in there, about another hour to get to the desired spot in the lagoon. Once we finally made it the fishing could start and until then I had my expectations already put lower and lower. I knew that lots of small butterfly Peacocks should be around this area so for once I threw a jig just to get a few quick contacts plus there could always be a bigger butterfly or even a big three bar mixed in. Within the first hour we caught plenty but nothing of mentionable size. Our guide of the day wanted to try another spot so we slowly moved out there. The new stretch looked so good but the fish seemed to think otherwise as not even the smaller ones seemed to be around. I then spotted some dark clouds rolling in and sooner than expected it once again heavy rain fell down and soaked us within minutes. Minutes before I told Adrien that this rain might hopefully activate the fish here as it did in the other lagoon but so far still no bites… I then asked the guide if he could get us back to the spot we fished before because I knew from the first days that several were still around this area, he agreed and we slowly made our way back to the rain. Of course, it was once again time for my favourite rain lure, a chopper. Even before we made it to where I wanted to go, I started throwing that thing around and even got some bites from the butterfly Peacocks. We finally approached the couple square meters that I assumed prime big fish territory and there it took only a couple of casts until I got one of the most beautiful bites I’ve ever witnessed. There it was, the big fish I was hoping for to finish this week, jumping out the water like a dolphin to grab my lure. Spectacular! Once again, I forgot to inform Adrian that I would change the side to where I would cast so he wasn’t able to get it completely on video but that probably would have been too much of awesome footage to ask for anyways, regarding what we already got on tape that week.
More important than getting the bite on video was to land that fish as I got a feeling that it could be a really good one and luckily, I landed it after an intense fight. I was right, the scale stopped at 18lbs, I did it! Did I already mention that like rain! At least in certain circumstances…
Soon after watching this beast swim away, the sky cleared up and let us enjoy the rest of our last day. Our guides showed us how to grill fish local style before we fished our way back to the entrance of the lagoon. Surprisingly we caught plenty of fish all over the places, nothing big but the bite frequency made for a pretty entertaining afternoon.
One even almost managed to bend open my 100lbs hardware, a true giant of the future which I hope to meet again in a couple of years when this fish will be all grown up.
We couldn’t ask for a better way to end this fishing adventure!
Going back to civilisation (and drinks)
What follows on a good week of fishing? Throwing all your stuff in your duffel bag in hope that it somehow fits and that’s what we exactly did. For dinner, there was the last scraps which was mostly rice with rice and a couple hours in the tent later we packed the boat around 4am, said farewell to the locals who hosted us and then we settled in the boat for a days trip down river… Well at least until the first rapids, where we, once again, unloaded the boat, carried all over the rocks and so on.. same as on the way up just in the other direction know, you probably remember.
So far so good and there wouldn’t be any reason to lose more words about our return except for the fact that like two hours before arriving in the civilisation, this whole video project literally almost got washed down the river. Together with all our stuff.
Why? The last rapid is passable by boat, for the case of an emergency the drivers just let us get out and walk around while they drive the boat through the fast water. No unloading necessary we were told which gave us an opportunity to let out our tourist instincts to take some pictures of the famous mountains around us. That’s exactly what we did while the boat engine failed our poor captains at the worst moment possible – in the middle of those rapids which then pushed the boat exactly on the only fuckin rock around besides the mountains. When I saw it, I was first only worried about our two guys out there trying to push the boat back in the river as my tackle and all other stuff is replaceable, lifes aren’t. But then I realized that the freakin harddrives with all videos and pictures were on the boat too and these were definitely not replaceable. Fuck (biiiiiep)
With the help of some friendly rafters they finally managed somehow to get the boat over the rock and back in the water without overturning. That was sooooo fuckin close! Somehow it seemed that this whole trip seemed to be under some really good stars which usually wasn’t the case in earlier video project but at this point I can’t complain at all!
After this incident, the rest of the boat ride seemed like a piece of cake and earlier than expected we arrived back where we took off a week before – hola Inirida, give me some icecold Gatorade, now!
Was it worth it?
Was it worth it? Even if I wasn’t always sure if we all would make it through this trip, I’d say hell yeah it was more than worth it! I mean I knew that it wouldn’t be the normal Peacock Bass trip but I honestly didn’t expect it to be that adventurous. Being sick didn’t make it any better but somehow the will to fish kept me somehow alive and well enough to make another cast. I didn’t feel well, I felt motivated but then again, I booked an explorer trip and not a wellness week.
Even tough, I didn’t get a 20lber this time, I still caught most of the biggest fish of that week which makes me somehow proud even if I know that it doesn’t mean much as luck is still a big factor in fishing. If somehow possible I would love to go back there once again in the near future and spend some more time in certain spots and I’m also sure that the fishing could get even better with a different water level.
So yeah, I hope to return there soon if I find a way to get the financial needs together as this project already ate most of my savings but I could’ve blown that money way worse. I’d call it an investment in memories.
So, at this point I talked so much, you might be sick of it but if I can tell you one last thing it would go something like this: to quote the late great Mac Miller: “drugs are just a war with boredom!” My advice: Go outside, open your mind and fish hard!
And please protect and take care of nature worldwide – remember you and me are nature too. Theres this mural in Inirida which writes “cuida la selva, para que ella te cuide!” what means something like “protect the jungle, so the jungle protects you” think about it!
Last but not least there’s only one thing left to say and that’s thank you! Thank you and muchas gracias to all the people that made this possible.
You know who you are and please know that you’re highly appreciated!
Andres and Andres who came up with and realized this project
All the indigenous people who were so generous to let us into their territory
Beto and FishColombia which gave me the opportunity to join this adventure and are also responsible for several of my Peacock Bass trips before, which gave me countless valuable memories on my way
Matt who joined us on this trip, taught me new things and was always a ready for some quality conversations
Adrien, the most important person regarding this video project. The guy who spent countless hours behind the camera in order to bring you all this on the screen! You rock and I hope to do many more such video projects with you in the near future!
Special thanks to the legendary Housi which unfortuntaly wasn’t with us on this trip but he introduced me to Peacock Bass fishing almost ten years ago and took me on many fishing adventures. Without him I probably never got the courage to go so far as I do now! I truly hope to have you back in the boat for the next jungle season!
To and my monologue I want to thank all the sponsors that supported this project… Oh wait, nobody replied to our mails. So yeah, thanks to myself for saving up money all year long, well done!
Thanks for reading!
This was in many ways a very special trip and over the years I've had a lot of thoughts about entering such fragile environments just for the sake of my entertainment, simply said. We might have been some of the very first white persons to ever visit that part of the Colombian jungle but there are people around since a long time before and not everybody is there to live in harmony with nature.
If you are interested in why this region is endangered and why sport fishing could be part of a long term solution I wrote about what I learned about it here.
Above you find the full documentary of this trip. Thanks in advance for watching!
Also Thank you for reading this article!
PEACE & LOVE