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Amazon-Angler.com | Amazon River Fishing Tactics - Payara & Peacock Bass

All information above is true & accurate to the best of The Fish Finders Ltd's knowledge and belief | View our Terms and Conditions

If you ask any experienced Amazon angler about fishing, he’ll start to tell you about the Peacock Bass.


Peacock Bass are extremely territorial and protective towards their young fry. They are so aggressive and will chase and attack any baitfish or lure in their ‘zone’ just because it’s there, whether they are hungry or not! They literally want to kill it.


And if you’re lucky to come across ‘dimpling’, like little insects on the surface of a quiet, mirror-glass smooth lagoon, then you might be surprised to find it is a cluster of fry (called a fry ball) with two very aggressive parents underneath, guarding them diligently. A cast past the fry ball and the lure ripped back through it nearly always produce a result that not many people have witnessed.


You know that as soon as your lure is anywhere near this fry ball, all hell will be let loose! One of the parents will try and annihilate the bait for sure. If you can imagine a concrete block dropped into the water from a great height, then you’re getting close to the sound made!


In general, with a spawning pair of Peacocks, the female would be about at least 20% smaller than the big buck male, so an 18lb female would be accompanied by a 22lb male or bigger. The female will be more of a classic rugby-football shape, while the male will have a knob or spawning hump on his head, easily identifying the difference between the two.


In both Peacocks and Payara, their choice of baitfish is large, sometimes over half their own length. Peacocks can chase a shoal of these fish into a corner, against trees or other structure or even up a sandy beach, only to pick them off one by one as they fall back into the river.


Structure is the key word in most of our fishing tactics. Structure can mean drop-offs, points, rocks, laydowns, blowdowns, tree stumps, tree clumps, beaches - the list goes on. In a bland stretch of lagoon or river and you come across a solitary tree or stick, you will usually find a crowded house of fish around it. Throw that lure past the structure, reel it in and hang on to your hat.


Change lures frequently during the day. It’s always a good idea to have 3-4 rods set up at once. You may even break a rod during your stay (Amazon fish don’t care) and it always helps to have a spare. Cast topwaters for a while, change to subsurface for a while and even go lighter to give those overworked muscles a break. Also this will give the fish something else to see and strike at.


Often is the case when you’ll cast 3 or 4 times at a likely-looking spot with zero strikes, only for you to have your fishing partner cast in exactly the same spot and haul out a 20lb fish. You must give it a chance. Keep on at it if it ‘feels right’. You might need to wind up a ‘cold’ fish a bit first. It might take 10 casts, but keep at it.

Amazon Fishing Tactics & Advice


Normally these predatory fish are not skulking on their own. If you catch one, there’s sure to be another one, two or even five or six nearby. Peacocks tend congregate in large shoals around rock piles in the deeper channels after the rains have started and the rivers start to run.


Peacocks will wait for shoals of baitfish to be swept past them and you can sometimes catch 20-30 in one session, even up to 20lbs. Then abruptly the action will stop and this is a sign that Payara are on the scene. Payara love to eat Peacocks, even big ones and Peacocks will take a back seat while they take over gorging on the baitfish for a while.


Once you’ve hooked up half a dozen Payaras, they’ll give out what is called a ‘fear factor pheromone’ to communicate to their nearby brethren that something is not right. The rest of the shoal will quickly wise up, move on out and the Peacocks will come back on the feed again a few minutes later. Here you can start to catch another 20-30 again before more Payaras move in. And on it goes ….. Payara are migratory fish constantly on the move and you will not catch the same fish from the same hole.


In the Amazon, other incidental fish can be easily caught while targeting Peacocks and Payara. Species like Bicudas, Pescadas, Jacunda,  Aruanas, Traira and Traiarao and many other prolific species will strike out at lures and flies meant for our target fish. If you want to specifically catch any of the other smaller species, beware when fishing with weaker line and tackle as much bigger fish will always hit a smaller bait not meant for them, just for a snack.


When fishing large areas, lakes, lagoons and river systems, sometimes it pays to ‘run and gun’. If an area is not being productive, move somewhere else. If points are being successful and beaches and tree clumps are not producing fish, then concentrate on points only. ‘Run and gun’ to as many points as you can, whatever makes you happy. After all, it’s your bucks! Stop and fish and if you get results, stick around a while, if not, fire up and go on to find the next good looking one.


Saying all this, one of the best fishing tactics for both beginners and experienced anglers is to really listen to your guide. “When in Rome” etc. comes to mind. If he says stay on top, then use surface lures until he says otherwise. If he says switch to subsurface, then do it immediately. If he says cast again to one particular tree or point, do it without question. He always knows best and if anyone can, he has seen it, done it and got the T shirt!


Also, sometimes you just need to act on your own gut feeling, the guide may have missed something and you feel like you just have to cast ‘over there’. Do it, and as the week progresses, you will have learnt so much, from the guide and by yourself. So many first timers have come up trumps with a 20lb fish or bigger and often this is because of a ‘feeling’ that there just has to be a fish in there.

Landing a Peacock Bass Payara Teeth Payara Hooked

Try not to waste casts. That just means expended energy that you will need in the Tropics. It’s hot and each cast will take its toll out on you. Work an area accurately and thoroughly. 6” away from a target can make the difference between fish and failure.


Many people miss out on casting into the middle of a lagoon or river. Most lagoons are bowl-shaped and only 1-2m deep at the most and Peacocks tend to spawn out in the middle, away from other predators. Even if there are no fry balls to be seen, from time to time, cast a top water lure or jig out there and see if anyone’s at home.


Keep on casting, all day long if you can. If your line ain’t in the water, it ain’t getting wet and it won’t catch a fish! You’ll probably make between 600-900 casts a day (that’s about 80 -100 an hour) so if you need a rest, do so. The tropical sun can take it out of you and if you’re not used to it, take a break in the shade.


Always take time out for lunch in the shade. Often guides in the Amazon will hang up a hammock for you to rest in between two trees. Recharge your batteries, you’ll need them for the afternoon performance! Take a Siesta, it works wonders, even a ten minute nap. Or if you simply can’t stop fishing, ask your guide to take you under the shade of a tree and try catching a Redtail or Piraiba Cat fish for an hour or two. Chill, rest and recuperate.


Always stay hydrated and drink loads of liquids, and we don’t mean beer. You need to replace all the fluids lost in your sweat, so force yourself to glug away at a few waters and soft drinks during the day, even if you don’t want to. Have a few celebratory or chill-out beers by all means, but be careful and smart, the tropical heat can be brutal and it will come back and bite you where the sun doesn’t shine!

Peacock in the Rain
Large Peacock Bass Jumping Peacock Bass 2 Jumping Peacock Bass
Payara Landed Doubel Hook Peacocks


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Amazon-Angler.com | Amazon Fishing Tactics

All information above is true & accurate to the best of The Fish Finders Ltd's knowledge and belief | View our Terms & Conditions

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