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Record Hunters blog, Day 3

10/26/2006

Editor's note: Please check in for occasional updates to the blog for "Record Hunters" on ESPN2 TV, and click here for more details and photo galleries on the showpage. And should you decide you'd like to experience the trip of a lifetime fishing for peacock bass in Brazil, here are some recommendations.

Day 3, posted Oct. 18, 2006

The Amazon River is also the largest river in the world by volume, in fact it handles eleven times the volume of the Mississippi River and drains an area that is as large as the continental United State.

The monstrous river discharges enough water into the Atlantic Ocean each day to supply the city of New York with water for nine years. There is so much water coming out of the mouth of the river that freshwater spews into the ocean for 125 miles before it mixes with saltwater.

Pretty impressive figures, but what may be more interesting to those who travel here in piscatorial pursuit is the fact that the Amazon river and its drainage is thought to be home to over 3,000 species of freshwater fish — almost a third of all known freshwater fish in the world.

The Record Hunters are interested only in the peacock bass.

Peacock bass are not bass at all, but rather are members of the cichlid family which are found in South America, Asia and Africa. They are close to the sunfish family and many of the brightly colored fish in our aquariums are cichlids.

Within the peacock family are several species, and scientists can't seem to agree on how many. The biggest of the bunch seems to be the peacock pavon, which is what we are after on our trip to Brazil. But we catch some other subspecies, as well.

Today we caught a speckled peacock, which the locals call a paca. It's a beautiful fish with pale, yellow spots running along the length of his body.

To find this paca we had tried to make our way up one of the small creeks that our guide, Gonzega seems to find at every river turn. We only got so far before Gonzega motioned that we would need to traverse on foot. He wanted to go through the jungle, but we thought the path of least resistance looked like the creek.

Walking in a creek in the jungle can be a danger unto itself. It seems that every plant growing down here has a natural means of protection particularly along the lines of spiny, prickly, needle-like appendages that seem to protrude from every tree within sight.

When these trees or limbs fall into the water, one is faced with unseen spiny, prickly, needle-like appendages that penetrate all manner of footwear and bury themselves in toes.

I much prefer staying safely in the boat.

We reach a pristine little lagoon that looks fishy, but we don't have a boat, so we can only make so many casts. Even as the far bank looks ever so inviting, Rob and Joe quickly catch a paca from the point.

The angler's add sets in and we tell Gonzega we are ready to move. The anglers don't seem to be having much problem communicating with each other, but I have only managed to gather a few phrases in Portuguese. I'm told that "another location" is am important message to be able to convey, but I'm still grappling with good morning and thank you. (Bom Dia and Obrigado)

The Portuguese word for good is bom. I really like that and use the term with abandon. So far everything really ahs been bom on this trip and catching big fish is much bom.

We move to another spot where we see a flurry of smallish fish come to the boat. Rob and Joe have wagered today on who will catch the most fish, so they love the action. After a while the activity seems to put the fish down and we've reached what I think is the end of the lagoon so I expect to be back tracking our way to the main river.

Bur Gonzega has other thoughts and has found a small inlet stream that gives way to another lagoon. We push our skiffs as far as we can up the stream until we meet a huge stump blocking our passage.

No problems to the Brazilians though. They just jump out with their machetes and proceed to chop and hack at the stump until they can haul it out of the way.

Our hard work is rewarded when Rob catches a 13-pounder. He wins the wager for the day, so Joe will have to do laundry when we get back to camp.

The Amazon Cutter, which is serving as our home for the week, has a washing machine powered by a large generator on the bank so at least Joe won't be sloshing into the river to launder Rob's sweaty T-shirts.

Our houseboat actually has all the creature comforts we can desire, including a few creatures that show up every now and then like ants and giant flying insects. But it's all part of the adventure and no one minds sharing the space.

I learned some new Portuguese phrases today and they are illustrative of how these trips go. Besides knowing the translation for the social niceties I felt it was important that night to have someone teach me the following:

  • "Excuse me/may I?" Since I always want to be sure it's OK before I set foot in the water.

  • "I'm enjoying it very much." Because the Brazilian guides are so gracious and accommodating and I want them to know how much we appreciate them.

    And maybe most importantly, as in three days we have experienced encounters with venomous snakes, deadly poisonous stinging insects and even trees that seem to lay in wait under the water just waiting to attack and you find yourself at peril while isolated in a boat with people who don't speak English – "Is everything okay?"

    Everything was bom today.

    For more information, email info@recordhunters.com.