Sport fishing in the Amazon: Puerto Maldonado

Pesca deportiva en la Amazonia

Within the Peruvian Amazon region there is an extraordinary aquatic biodiversity, with a wide variety of fish that are part of the richest freshwater sport fishing on the planet.

Among the more than 1,000 species of freshwater fish found here, you will find several Amazonian species considered “trophies” in the fishing world:

  • Tucunare (Cichla monoculus): the king of all freshwater game fish, the butterfly peacock. This beautiful species has an iconic yellowish-green coloration, with three black stripes on the side, and often red or orange pectoral fins, and thanks to its resemblance to the plumage of a peacock, it was christened the butterfly peacock.
Tucunaré (Cichla ocellaris)
Tucunaré (Cichla ocellaris)
  • Payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides): also known as giant wolf fish, saber-toothed barracuda, vampire fish, vampire tetra or saber fang barracuda in reference to the two long fangs resting on its jaw, these can reach up to 15 cm (6 inches) in length protruding from its lower jaw. They are skilled jumpers when captured, making them difficult to catch. Remove the hook with caution.
Payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides)
Payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides)
  • Golden catfish (Brachyplatystoma flavicans): this interesting aquatic species grows up to 1.2 m (4 ft) and can weigh up to 32 kg (70 lbs). As part of their routine they migrate upstream from the estuarine zone of the Amazon River (in Brazil) to the rivers in the foothills of the Andes Mountains – a journey of several thousand kilometers – to spawn. This journey takes them beyond Iquitos.
Golden catfish (Brachyplatystoma flavicans) flavicans)
Golden catfish (Brachyplatystoma flavicans)
  • Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum): it can weigh up to 23 kg and, despite being herbivorous, it puts up a great fight when you try to catch it. This variety is quite sought after because of its delicious meat.
Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum)
Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum)

In addition to the above, there are often a score of different species that can catch a fly or lure in any given area. Thus, the adventurous angler will not have an easy time finding more hard-fighting fish species or more exciting sport fishing anywhere else, nor in a place as beautiful and breathtaking as the Peruvian Amazon.

Some of the lodges that offer piranha fishing in Tambopata include the following:

  • Posada Amazonas: Unlike many other places that are limited to do this activity, in this lodge you will be able to do this activity with respect for the wildlife cycle, this refers to the activity based on catching and releasing the fish. In this tour your destination will be the Cocha Tres-Chimbadas. With a little luck, you will be able to encounter other wildlife such as giant river otters, many types of birds and monkeys.
  • Green House Tambopata: You will fish for piranhas as the locals have done for so many years, be assisted by traditional techniques, and have the opportunity to admire the impressive multitude of parrots that live in their natural environment. An experience that they offer as “authentic in the Amazon jungle”.
  • Wasaí Lodge: In the waters of the Tambopata River you will find a great variety of fish such as Payaras, Pacu (Giant Piranha), Catfish (Zungaros, Piros, Surubim, etc.) The technique is to fish Payaras with spinning and casting equipment. There are many black volcanic rocks in the river and the Payara usually hunt sardines very close to the shore. The activity consists of casting lures such as magnum or rapala sliver, rebel fast track or jawbreaker from the rocks. Pacu only eat fruit and fish meat, so sardines are used as bait and hooks with multifilament lines on the reels. They are really strong. We use the same technique with all the catfish.

If you are looking for some sport fishing tours in Loreto, you will find that all lodges offer piranha fishing, with rudimentary equipment, as part of their standard itineraries. However, several offer trips geared towards the more serious sport fisherman:

Pesca deportiva en la Amazonia: Puerto Maldonado
Sport fishing in the Amazon
  • Otorongo Expeditions: American-owned fishing specialists, who use their basic lodge, located downstream from Iquitos on the Amazon River, as a base for fishing on Lake Ayzana, which is a sport fishing reserve. Rental equipment is available.
  • Heliconia Lodge: takes anglers to the nearby lakes, Atun and Isana, to fish throughout the day, before returning to the lodge in the evening.
  • Ceiba Tops: like Heliconia, can take clients on day trips to lakes full of suitable fish (including Peacock Bass) near the community of Orellana, providing both a specialized guide and equipment.
  • Tahuayo Lodge: located next to the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo reserve, it offers fishing trips and fishing equipment for rent.
  • Amazon Antares Lodge: located in front of Pacaya-Samiria, it offers fishing itineraries in the Reserve’s lakes. Overnight camping is available to take full advantage of fishing opportunities.

It is generally recommended to bring your own rods and lures, as the equipment offered by the lodges is usually limited and you may not find it in optimal condition after numerous encounters with aggressive fish.

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