Fishing Colombia’s Rio Tuparro for Peacock Bass

Sunset Fly Fishing in Columbia

 

For the past four years Joe Daniel has attempted to get clearance to travel into northeastern Colombia along the Venezuela border to the headwaters of the Tomo and Tuparro Rivers in search of fishing for truly record-size peacock bass and payara. Every year he gets a tentative okay but then it gets shut down at the last moment by the government. This region has been a major stronghold of the Colombia cocaine cartels for decades and hence has been pretty much off-limits for tourists. Each time he’s tried to go, the Colombian government has eventually deemed it too unsafe for gringos. It was also considered too dangerous for anyone else other than the indigenous indian tribes and those in the drug trade, so hundreds of miles of prime Amazonian jungle lagoons and waterways have been virtually unfished for twenty or thirty years.

Over the past two years the Colombian government has waged a highly successful war on the drug cartels, capturing the kingpins and destroying much of the infrastructure. There has been a lot of press on this lately including reports from 60 Minutes and CNN. This very positive development has reopened Colombia as a tourist destination, and has finally persuaded the powers-that-be to grant him the necessary permits to travel through Tuparro National Park into the honey water beyond. Of course upon hearing this we jumped at the opportunity to work with Joe on covering this story. Below is an update on how it’s going so far:

Hola Sage pescadors!

Out of the jungle, safe and sound after quite an amazing fishing adventure last week! It’s hard to believe we flew to Puerto Carreno on the Venezuela/Colombia border just a little over ten days ago. This part of the country is considered the wild frontier, and for good reason. Basically a sleepy little town that makes its living from the drug cartels and running contraband from Venezuela.

We spent the morning getting our final provisions – limes, yucca root, juice pulp and rum – then drove 200 kilometers due south out across these amazing open plains on a rutted, dusty dirt track. Got slammed by a torrential rain along a ridge of lava that left 300 foot high waterfalls cascading like thin silver ribbons down the black rock. It looked like the mountain was crying. We crossed three rivers and had to ferry our trucks across on these old flat barges. We were completely devoured by sand flies at these stops and my legs look like I had the pox.

We drove onto the little town of Garitas, which was the scene of a deadly shoot-out between the military and the local drug cartel about three years ago that left 13 soldiers dead. There are bullet marks on many of the houses! This is where we met our outfitter who had set us up a camp across the river on a huge beach. They had a big pot of fish soup ready for us to eat, which was all we could handle before everyone collapsed in sleeping bags right on the sand.

The next morning we got all sorted out, loaded all the boats properly, and headed up the Orinoco on our adventure. Huge river with lots of rapids, we finally got to the Rio Tuparro which is much smaller. We turned up the Tuparro and into the Tuparro National Park.

Sage Bass II Rods

We began fishing in earnest, and it was fantastic. Peacock bass averaging three or four pounds but getting as large as twenty. Late in the evening of our second day as our Colombian host Nicolas and I were returning to camp the park ranger showed up in an orange Zodiac raft. He was agitated about something and pulled Nicolas aside to talk with him. I thought we might be in trouble for camping still within the park. (we knew our beach was right on the border), but it turns out that there was a cartel operating a hundred cocaine labs along the river above us and they had seen us filming and they were NOT happy. They had sent us a message that we had 24 hours to leave or else!

We actually didn’t want to leave but we also really didn’t want to find out what “or else” might be so we spent a fairly restless night and packed up everything early the next morning and retraced our route, portages and all, back down to the Orinoco and then to the Rio Tomo. Since we still had five days we decided to explore this river, which was larger than the Tuparro but had lots of smaller tributaries. We motored up the Tomo over a hundred miles and it was incredible. Caught hundreds of fish, found another excellent beach campsite, survived crocodiles, freshwater stingrays, bad bugs and more extreme weather, from dead still 110 degree heat to some kind of jungle typhoon that hit our camp like a tornado and sent tents tumbling a hundred yards down the beach.

Peacock Bass

Great adventure, great filming, great story! The Sage Peacock Bass rods truly worked phenomenally allowing us to throw the big flies required to catch big fish.

Many thanks again for the support!

Best,

Joe Daniel

Hervey Bay Black Marlin

Black Marlin

 

Sage Ambassador Peter Morse: Hervey Bay Black Marlin

There’s a migration that occurs only once or twice a decade and it’s of juvenile black marlin that migrate 3,000 kilometres from the tropical waters of north Queensland all the way to southern New South Wales. We know when they’re coming because they begin to show up off Cairns in June and July and they move south in their thousands over the next 9 months as summer comes on. In several locations they become very accessible to anglers in small boats, and in one place in particular you can sight fish to them on the flats. This year we hit the weather right and enjoyed some amazing days of fishing. The rod of choice was the new 1190 ONE and the reel an 8080 Pro. An #8 reel on an #11 rod might seem a little wrong at first but this reel has everything going for it. For a start it’s a big reel for an #8 with 400 yards of 50lb gsp backing and as it turns out it has the best drag of any reel I’ve ever used, it is so silky smooth and at its highest setting feels like it would stop a train – and that’s the 8 weight, I can’t wait use the #8010 and the #8012 on some BIG fish. While we were there some big tuna turned up on the flats as well, many of these were over 50lbs and we were sight casting to them in 6 feet of water as they cruised the beach. It was a great few days with guide and good friend Mark Bargenquast.

 

Black Marlin Breach

Black Marlin Breach

Along side the boat

Along side the boat

Sight Fishing

Sight Fishing

The Big Tuna

The Big Tuna

 

Peter Morse is a good friend and our Sage Ambassador for Australia. Along with being a fisherman and photographer he is the author of the new book “A Few Great Flies….. and How to Fish Them” which can be found through www.wildfish.com.au

 

Sage Continues its Awards Winning Streak

Sage Luggage

February 28, 2013 (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) – Sage, the leading manufacturer of fly rods, reels, apparel and accessories, continues to earn awards and recognition for both fly rods and reels.

In the Field & Stream March issue, the Sage CIRCA won the ‘Best of the Best’ award. Reviewer Ted Leeson notes, “these rods are far better suited to the trout fishing conditions most of us routinely encounter, where precision and delicacy count for more than distance and power.”

The Sage CIRCA also won the Sporting Classics ‘Award of Excellence’ for fishing. Senior Editor Todd Tanner calls the CIRCA “…one of the sweetest, smoothest casting rods to ever grace a trout stream.”

Fish Alaska awarded both the Sage ONE 590-4 fly rod and the 3850CF reel with gold medals in its annual Gear Awards edition. The new 4260 reel received a silver medal, and the ONE fly rod in both single-handed and two-handed models received the ‘Retailer’s Choice Award’.

Every year the International Game & Fish Association recognizes manufacturers whose products caught more world record fish than any other. For the 2012 fishing season, Sage wins the fly rod category again with 40 record-breaking fish caught using Sage rods. The award will be presented to Sage at the Tenth Annual World Record Achievement Awards ceremony in April.

 

Award Winning CIRCA

Award Winning CIRCA

 

Sage Community Spotlight

Sage Employee

 

Sage was just recently spotlighted in a video by local county’s Economic Development Alliance. Check out some of the rod building process and the hardworking people that make everything possible.

 

Castaway Films – Devils Gold

Fly Fishing Film Tour

 

It’s that time of year when the thrill of monster fish and exotic landscapes make their way into a town near you. It’s the Fly Fishing Film Tour and we’re proud to announce that our friends over at Castaway films had their Film “Devils Gold” selected to the show this year. Check it out below and head on over to the tours website for a schedule of when it’ll be in your town. Might just be about time you book that trip to Bolivia while your at it!

 

 

 

The Sure Thing

Green Drake river

“It could be tonight,” he thought as he stood on the bank of the river.
The green drakes would hatch tonight.

All his life he had dreamed of a hatch like this: Fifteen minutes before dusk, cottonwoods caught in shadows, green drakes would suddenly appear, like someone flipped a switch, accompanied by the swish and crack of a fish launching completely out of the current.

Beginning of July and the hatch was overdue. An above average snow pack, ripping brown wave trains, and flows above twenty five thousand cfs made for colder than normal water temperatures and sporadic hatches.

He looked down stream and watched his buddy connect with a rainbow on the edge of some drowned willows. Yes, this would be his lucky night, exactly how it was supposed to be. He tied on his favorite pattern and scanned the water for rises. The light was dimming, the moment was right, and he gave a shout to his friend.

Were they really hatching?
Why didn’t he see any rises? Should he have stayed home and done his laundry?
Who had invented twitter and why?

“Do you see any?” Staring at the river, he wanted to believe they would hatch.
“Do you see any?” he yelled.

It would not be tonight. The answer was no—

 

Green Drake

Not tonight

 

The Sure Thing by Cameron Scott. Cameron’s work can be found in The Drake and The Fly Fish Journal as well as his website www.cameronkellerscott.com

Photos by Ben Hayes and Draper White