Anglers considering the trip of a lifetime to South America's vast Amazon Basin should keep a couple of key numbers in mind - none of which directly address the astounding size of this amazing fishery.
First number is 500 - that's how many days renowned outdoor/travel writer Larry Larsen has spent fishing and exploring the Amazon. (It's actually a few more than 500, but we like round numbers.) The other key numerical expression comprises a range of 3-5. That's how many months of advance booking Larsen recommends in order to secure your preference in time slots and tour operators.
What's the connection? It's Larsen's new app "Fishing the Amazon Guide," published by Sutro Media and available online at Apple/iTunes and Android/Google Play stores for $9.95. With fishing best during the low water season of August-March, this is the time of year when those considering an Amazon adventure should be consulting calendars and locking in dates. With more than 15,000 tributaries and numerous tour operators, there's much to consider, but Larsen's app breaks down the relevant details from geography and seasonality to equipment, guides, habitat and logistics.
Now, if you've fished the Amazon before, you'll have some idea of what to expect. If you haven't, buckle up - you're in for a memorable ride (in the best sense of the phrase).
"You are normally several hundred miles from the nearest paved road and your sights are the interesting habitat and wildlife, in addition to the various fish species that rely on power, teeth or speed to survive in the Amazon Basin," Larsen said. "Caiman, freshwater stingrays and pink dolphin keep things interesting, as do numerous other fauna that Americans only see in zoos."
Click the image for Amazon Adventures App photo gallery
Indeed, this is truly a different world, in terms of habitat, inhabitants and creatures of fur, feather and fin. Everyone knows that peacock bass rule - at least in terms of general popularity. But this is a place where every lagoon, every river bend, every rock outcropping could deliver a host of species, some of which will make you think you've followed Alice through the rabbit hole.
Need examples: Check out Larsen's descriptions and brilliant photography of Amazon players like aruana, bicuda, pirarucu, redtail catfish and the "terrible toothsome threesome" - payara, piranha and trieda. These and many other angling targets and incidental catches ensure a dynamic and delightfully unpredictable fishery. That being said, Larsen reminds us that there's simply no overstating the thrill of peacock bass fishing.
"The scenery is very unique in the black waters of the jungle, and the peacock bass is the most exciting fish in the world," he said." They grow to more than 25 pounds, move around in gangs, try to destroy topwater plugs and when hooked, they repeatedly jump before rocketing off to test your tackle and your angling skills."
If You Go
To facilitate trip planning, Larsen provides free consultation to anyone who purchases his app. For general assistance, he offers these comments:
"The most important is water level and direction, as most species are available in the low water of the 'dry season.' That varies in different tributaries (watersheds), but if the water is high and/or rising, all fish will move quickly back into the jungle where no angler can reach them. Other considerations are size and quantities of fish, which species, and type of experience and accommodations the angler may be interested in.
"Part of your trip success will depend on finding the best booking agent for your purpose. Word of mouth referrals are a good reference point to start checking the locations and facilities they offer and the available weeks. Prepare a list of questions and get thorough answers before booking your trip. They need to know your expectations and preferences in order to put you on the most appropriate trip, and you need to determine if their suggested trip will be right for you."
Larsen said that savvy travelers will want to address several important details when considering potential Amazon trips. Key points include:
- Maximum camp, lodge or boat capacity will help you size up the "crowd" factor. Some operations have 8 or 10 anglers while others have 20 or more fishing the same waters.
- Know the agent's reservation deposit, balance due and cancellation/refund policies. Find out the specifics of your entire itinerary and what is included in the cost before you book the trip.
- Find out if there are any charter flight weight restrictions on luggage.
- Trip length, flight departure/arrival times, ground transfers and additional domestic/charter flights, and any hotel/meal requirements.
- Number of fishing days, provided equipment, meal schedules and on-site logistics.
- Fishing arrangements, boat layout and equipment and guide fishing experience and language abilities.
- Type of living facilities (fixed lodge, mobile houseboat/yacht, and barge tent camp) and find out what the facility is equipped with, such as bed types, showers, toilets, power supply, and air conditioning.
Lastly, Larsen said that Amazon travelers should never hesitate to ask if the food and water is safe for foreigners. And make sure will there be plenty of ice, bottled water and soft drinks. After an average day of Amazon angling action, you'll need plenty of refreshment.
For more information, visit http://sutromedia.com/apps/Fishing_the_Amazon_Guide.