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Destination: Brazil (Winter Break)
January 2009: Fishing in Minas Gerais and Vacationing in Port Seguro

My first destination of the new year Brazil. Once again it was time to visit my in-laws in Brazil and get a break from the frigid temperatures and shoveling. Our vacation was for 3 weeks. I only wanted to do two weeks but my wife talked me into three. Needless to say I did not go away much in 2008, saving most of my vacation time for this trip. This trip was also a vacation with many activities planned while there, including you guessed it, some fishing. I had hoped this time I’d be able to hit the Amazon for some peacock bass, giant catfish and other exotics but unfortunately it was still not in the budget for this year either. Those houseboat trips that run deep up the Amazon River are very expensive. But some day, hopefully next time. 

My wife’s family live extremely far south from the Amazon River, so shore fishing was out too. On a brighter note, earlier in the year I was told that my father in-law had built a pond on his property and stocked it with juvenile tilapia and peacock bass back in early 2008 and that the fish have already grown large enough to fish for and that he did this so I would have something to do on the farm while we stayed with them for the first two weeks. Talk about a very kind and cool father in-law. There are no near by areas to fish for peacocks bass but I was told that my brother in-law had a friend who has a pond with some big ones that I might be able to fish on. Also I would be able to fish all the local fisheries, which consist of pay fishing ponds within the area and surrounding areas of where my in-laws live. Week three we were also planning on going to my wife’s sister’s beach house in another part of Brazil where I was told there were many charter boats for hire and that I could easily take one out. I thought perhaps I could go chase marlin, sailfish or tarpon. Needless to say with all those thoughts and info running through my head I thought I was in store for some really cool fishing opportunities mixed within my vacation and was pumped up for the trip.

Things did not exactly go as planned or as I hoped. As mentioned the first two weeks were spent at my in-laws farmhouse, way out in the hills and country. We were not able to rent a car as planned so we had to rely on rides or borrowing cars. Sometimes we were just stuck at the farmhouse because we couldn’t get neither. So fishing trips outside the farm were much fewer than I had hoped for. I began fishing at my father in-laws newly constructed little pond. Bless the mans heart for all his troubles and for doing something so nice. I spent a allot of time fishing his little pond on days I couldn't leave the farm. A couple of times we were stuck there because the dirt roads were washed out and too dangerous to drive on (unless you had a boat or raft). One of the consequences for planning a trip during their rainy season. We also lost power for two days after a real bad lightening storm. Not just a vacation but an adventure. Anyway to get back on subject I started off fishing the little farm pond casting out my ultra-light with small artificial plugs and spinners but nothing bit. I was being hazed to worm and bobber fish, so I did, which did the trick. Tilapia seem to love garden worms. I caught a mess of them but I was still waiting for a small peacock bass to hit. I ended up catching this strange looking fish, one in which I don’t ever remember seeing before and that’s when my brother in-law said there’s one of the peacock bass we stocked. Initially I thought it was cool to catch something new but when I heard that I thought oh no! They had stocked 25 fish that they thought were peacock bass but turned out to be some other type of fish, which I’m still trying to identify with certainty but believe them to be jaguar fish. My brother in-laws friend I mentioned earlier with the pond containing some big peacocks fell thru and this was the source of where they acquired the fake peacocks for my father in-laws little pond. So I had to assume he had no peacocks bass either, just bigger Jaguar fish. My father in-laws little pond was also stocked with 200 tilapia. During my 2 weeks at the farm I did catch many of them and a variety of different types of them. I did manage to get off the farm for a handful of days and fish some of the local fisheries. Though Brazil offers some incredible fishing, unfortunately the area we were visiting didn't. The only kind of fishing available to the public are pay fisheries, which run and make money by making you keep what you catch and then charging you a set fee per kilo of weight. It’s pay to play unless you know someone who owns a pond and has granted you permission. There are no free viable public fisheries in the area we visited. Even if I had found any public water, between the lack of management, sewage, fishing pressure and netting, my chances would have been slimmer than slim at hooking anything. Pay fisheries being pretty much the only option for any quality fishing, I visited five of them within the area. Some were real bad and some were good. The not so good fisheries I was told had to do with folks trespassing at night and netting and stealing fish from property owners, hearing that made me a bit sick and when I heard this I then understood why some pay fisheries were fenced in with pit bulls released at night. This gave me a bigger appreciation for the public waters and state parks back home in the USA that most of us fishermen take for granted. Thankfully not all of Brazil is like this. Anyway we found a couple of good spots, including one fishery that offered giant tiger shovelnose catfish and large Pacu/Tambaqui, as well as other species. It was the biggest and nicest of all the pay fisheries I had visited. It is well laid out with an outdoor bar and they serve up some delicious fried tilapia fish. The tiger shovelnose cat is on my list of exotic fish I must catch someday and I came close but not close enough. Allot of my fishing was all trial and error, not many people where we fished used artificial lures. So there was no info on recommended lure types. I started off casting a variety of plugs hoping for success. Every once in a great, great while you would see a tiger shovelnose (or as they call them in Brazil Pintado or surbrim) cruise the surface of the shoreline looking for an easy meal of food scraps. Which came from some folks purposely throwing part of their lunch in the water as a sort of chum to attract fish. As I happen to see one I was finishing up retrieving a cast and happen to run spinner bait right by the cat’s head but no strike, it instead got spooked and took off. I got another shot with some fresh cut bait and the fish fought really well and I could feel the sheer weight of the monster, as he continued to pull drag he went deep and went beneath a under water tree. I opened up the bail and gave plenty of slack and waited a long time hoping the cat would swim out from under the tree but no luck the line was just plain wrapped and stuck. I wish somebody had mentioned the tree before the hook up.... LOL. I even had a third shot but unfortunately I had a few too many cold beers (thanks to the water front bar) and was a little loopy when I tied on a new hook. I set some cut bait close to shore for cats cruising the edge and about 2 hours later my rod got whacked hard. I set the hook and felt the weight of the fish for about 2-3 seconds but then it came undone. When I checked the line no hook just a curly cue from the bad not I had tied and that had come undone. From here on in not only no drinking and driving but also no drinking and knot tying either for me. I continued fishing with artificials and caught another species of fish that blew me away on their fighting ability. The Matrinxăn, (which resembles and is related to the dorado). Before landing any though some broke hooks and lures off with their sharp teeth and because their mouths are so bony, any slack and they’re off your hook. The speed, aggression and fighting ability on these fish make the bass and trout back home seem tame. My wife and me also did some Pacu (also known as Tambaqui) fishing. My wife wanted to fish so I handed her a rod with a black spinner bait and 8 pound test. She hooked a pig of a fish. A black finned pacu. The whole battle took about 30 minutes and lots of screaming runs. It got to the point that my wife got so tired from fighting the fish she handed me the rod to finish. I fought it for a little bit while the pacu was making its final runs back and fourth. We almost had a problem landing the fish. We were elevated high off the water on a slab of concrete with railings and could not reach the fish, nor could I lift this heavy fish out with 8 lb test line. One of the workers of the park ran for the net but the net was way too small to fit such a large fish. I told my wife she would have to grin and bare fighting the fish again and I handed her back the rod and ran for my gripping device. I grabbed it and got under the railing lying on the cement and stuck myself half way out bent down with my arm fully extended in hopes of reaching the fish. The pacu made 2-3 final runs before he tired and came in close enough for me to slap the grip on his lower jaw. I then realized how big he really was when I began hoisting him up out of the water. He weighed over 10 kilos, which puts him at over 20 lbs. At another location I got into my own beast when I landed a 10 lb pacu that also put up an impressive fight. I caught some other species as well. Check out the video! If you ever fish anywhere in Brazil I recommend you fish using some kind of steel leader. Most fish have serious teeth; some even have a human like set of choppers. You have been warned.

PS: Look for the video of this trip to soon be posted on the Video's Page.