Things hardly ever come as expected – yet again proven on this journey.
After an almost 40 hour hustle from airport to airport I eventually set foot in to city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra – base for our fishing trips into the jungle and headquarters for Angling Frontiers – to finally meet the team for the next couple of months in person: Patrick Taendler, Rudy Babikian and Daniel Speir. Before we we’re deployed into the unknown we should have a few days in the City to get acclimated until the first week of clients would arrive – a group of enthusiastic fly fishermen all from Colombia: Francisco, Andres, Juan Manuel and Leonardo – four friends and diehard fishermen.
On short notice, we had the chance for an exploratory trip to a different area further north – fed by a different water system. In accordance with everyone we decided to jump in on that opportunity and take the gamble. We had heard good things and seen promising footage of the river, however never fished or seen it in person before, making for even greater excitement lingering in each end everyone of us to explore and scout new waters.
Before casting first flies however, it would take us 2,5 days moving upriver, pushing the boats and camping on the sandy beaches that line the riverbanks. Not only was the water murky due to previous rains, the size and structure of the water did not allow for the best of fly fishing under the given conditions. The third day looked promising and water had dropped significantly so that we decided to throw in some casts on the way up, making for the contacts with fish on the trip. On midday, we had reached a spot that should serve us as camp and home for the next 4 days, located on a little plateau just next to a hot run that lead into a deep circling whirlpool. Reason for this location was a small creek with supposedly clear water just a couple of runs upstream that we had spotted on the map. Local rains in the headwaters had murkied the water yet again and the visibility in the main river had dropped to an unfishable point. The little creek however was not affected by the rains and remained clear. From further away we were able to already see the clear transitions line between the two water bodies at the point of confluence – a promising view. And yes, the mouth was packed with Sabalo and smaller baitfish and it was obvious that the next joint of the food chain – the reason we travelled all this way – had to be close by in order to feed in these conditions. As we got to the mouth our premonition was confirmed: first golden flanks spooked when approaching the shoreline and it should only take a couple of casts to get Juan Manuel and Francisco connected to solid gold.
The creek turned out to be fishable as well, light gear and sight fishing made for a great next day and blessed everyone with good sized Yatoranas, Golden Dorados up to 8 lbs and even some smaller beautiful Tabaranas (Silver Dorado). Falling water levels made it tough on the next days and clearing conditions on the main river made for the decision to push further upriver and check out the runs that lied ahead. Fishing the main river however turned out to be more difficult than expected. Deep pools and an incredible abundance of predatory catfish like Muturo (Zungaro zungaro) and Surubi (Pseudoplatistoma fasciatum) seemed to influence the density and behavior of the Golden Dorado immensely. Hence, fishing was quite tough with the fly for the next 2,5 days. Every fish required hard work and had to be earned. Despite tough conditions every angler hooked into quite solid specimens from a few different species. Apart from the fishing, we could not have asked for a better bunch of people. Great folks, great talks and great attitude coming into and out of this week. Thanks again for that!