Arapaima “Spirit of the Jungle”

Pirarucu - Spirit of the jungle
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Few trips have exceeded my expectations – “Pirarucu” in the Amazon did on every level !

Pirarucu is operated by Untamed Angling out from “Uakari Lodge” which is a unique floating hotel that was created in 1998 as a biodiversity conservation strategy and economic alternative for the communities of Mamirauá, the first Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil. It is also the largest wild arapaima reserve in the world – and that is why I travelled there 😉

I flew from Brisbane to Santiago – then onto Sao Paulo where I overnighted – before flying onto Manaus which is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. I stayed at the Juma Opera hotel while having a couple of days to wind down and explore Manaus. That is the beautiful Opera House just across the street.

Tried the local blackened Piranha – which was pretty good

The water level on the Rio Negro was at its lowest level on record. You can see the highest water level line along the walls which was reached in 2021 – which is a huge variation !

No trip to the Amazon would be complete with visiting the amazing Manaus fish market !

It is a busting vibrant market with an amazing array of exotic fish all caught daily from the largest freshwater river in the world and its tributaries – some species I recognised include – piracuru, tambaqui, pacu, matrinxa, piranha, Surubim catfish, Piraiba catfish, Red Tail Catfish, Thorny catfish, Arowana.

We also visited the fruit market where I have never seen so many banana’s and plantains! There where also plenty of other unusual fruits and spices. The Municipal Market was another spot worth a quick look 😉

The Rio Negro Bridge is the second largest river bridge in the world, unfortunately the dry hot smokey conditions ( it was 40C most days during my trip ) didn’t give us a clear view. We took a boat trip on the Rio Negro and swam with the pink dolphins. Manaus is one of the few spots on the planet where you may swim with pink river dolphins in their natural habitat. The pink river dolphin is found only in the Amazon region and let us pat them. They have an unusually smooth rubbery skin.

Next up we visited a floating Arapaima fish farm where I got to feed a couple with fish on a stick and pole – which gave me a better understanding on how they feed. They actually implode the bait just like a Barra.

Final leg of our Day Tour of Manaus with our guide Jennifer was viewing “The Meeting of Waters” which is the confluence between the dark (blackwater) Rio Negro and the pale sandy-colored (whitewater) Amazon River, referred to as the Solimões River in Brazil upriver of this confluence. For 6 km (3.7 mi) the waters of the two rivers run side by side without mixing due to sediment and water temperature – which felt significant!

The final leg to Pirarucu is via Tefe which is approx. an hours flight from Manaus. Its a bustling town with a port where we boarded a boat for the 1.5 hours scenic river trip to the Mamiraua Reserve, where Uakari Lodge/ Pirarucu is located.

The water levels were so low we had to beach the main boat and walk across an island to re-connect with another boat for the final leg to Uakari/Pirarucu.

Uakari Lodge – Our home for the nest week 😉

The fish life around the lodge is incredible – you can’t fish off the lodge 😉

The accommodation is fantastic when you consider where you are – I had my own room with ensuite

This is the main dining area

This fella was sitting on a log under the main dining area 😉

Our home for the next week !

The sound of feeding arapaima and howler monkeys in the jungle is a memory you won’t forget 😉
You head up the main channel each day with your flyfishing guides who also pick up local indigenous guides along the way. The wildlife was extra special during our trip with the Amazon experiencing the worst drought on record – which concentrated all the local critters – including monkeys and caiman ( similar to our crocodiles 😉 )

There were hundred of caiman – with some as large as three metres !

A Caiman siting on it nest on the bank

Capuchin monkeys would distract the Caiman to leave its next and then steal the eggs !

Theses holes in the bank are catfish nests

Picking up our native guides from their floating home

The water was so low our guides had to use sticks to push up through the last bottleneck into the top lake system

You will need to fish with a #12 weight fly outfit for arapaima so you can cast bulky 5″ – 6″ inch streamer patterns. I used G.Loomis NRX + and Asquith #12 wht rods matched with Abel ROVE 11-12 wht reels and Scientific Angler Sonar Titan Big Water Tapers with 100lb cores in intermediate and 500 grain sinking.

This was an EPIC trip – To be continued 😉

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