Chasing Monsters River Monsters

Jur Bass Ic Park Fishing

Winter 2020


f you’re a bass angler and you don’t take measures

to chase peacock bass at some point in your life,

you’re missing out on the ultimate experience. They may not be true bass at all, but they take all of our favorite

quarry’s best qualities and supercharge them into a single

colorful package that doesn’t know when to stop fighting.

They eat topwater lures, jump high in the air, and strip drag

like a runaway diesel truck, and best of all, you get to fish for

them with your regular bass tackle.

The best opportunities to catch them are in the

Amazon, but if you can’t swing the cost of that trip, there are

pods of “peas” in Florida and Hawaii as well. It’s a nice break

for even the most hardened tournament angler.

Recently, though, I had an opportunity to head into the

Amazon for the third time, and while there were smallish

peacocks in the system we fished, the lure of the river

was the traira, also known as wolf fish. They may look

like oversized mudfish, but they grow much bigger – our

group caught 18-20 pounders every day, and one fortunate

angler landed a 28 – and they eat topwaters and squarebill

crankbait like they’ve never seen them before, which they

probably never have. For the visiting bass angler, likely

among the first groups of Americans to visit the lodge, it was

a prehistoric freak show, a true “Jur-bassic Park.”

Complementing the wolfies, we also caught several

other species, including bicuda (“freshwater barracuda”) who

couldn’t resist a smartly-placed jerkbait. The real pleasant

surprise for me, though, were the payara. You’ve likely

seen them on a TV show like “Chasing Monsters” or “River

Monsters,” lengthy silver fish with the fangs of a sabertooth

tiger. I thought I’d had a low hookup percentage fishing

for tigerfish in Zambia, where we landed perhaps one of

five fish that bit artificials. While some of the payara ate

jerkbaits, most were caught on live or cut bait. Is that

cheating? Judge for yourself, but I’d say that even with

that method we hooked maybe two of ten and landed

half of those we hooked, a pathetic batting average of

one-hundred. They attack bait like a Doberman, and while

we tried setting the hook immediately, letting them run

with it a bit, hitting them hard and just trying a simple snap set, nothing seemed to work consistently. Even a stinger treble produced no more success than just a single hook. If you did get one hooked, and managed to steer him through the raging current and over sharp-edged rocks, they’d eventually skyrocket completely out of the water, often throwing the hook in the process. It was as if they’d never been truly pinned at all.

When we handed our guide Itamar the rod,

he probably landed 50 percent more fish that

we did, proving that there was some talent and

technique to improving the catch rate.

As indicated above, I’ve been to my fair

share of remote fishing locales – from Africa

to Brazil to Alaska – but this one was the

furthest off the grid. The lodge itself was

comfortable and reasonably modern, but it

felt each day that our group of eight intrepid