The Middle-aged Men and the Jungle
Fishing is more than a casual hobby to a number of us at Environmental Standards, Inc. Whether this is due to having grown up in small towns with streams and lakes in the area, or next to the Atlantic coast with salt water the main pursuit, several of us were hooked at an early age. This past October, three of us took an amazing trip to the jungle of Brazil and fished tributaries of the Amazon river. The first leg to our destination entailed flying from Miami, Florida, to Manaus, Brazil. Manaus is located at the confluence of the Rio Negro and Amazon River and the contrast in river hue was very obvious from the plane. Manaus is 3° south of the equator at an elevation of roughly 300 feet (92 m). This place is hot with only a wet and dry seasons; there are no cool fall temperatures like we know in North America!
We departed Manaus via a charter plane upstream to meet the crew and board the the mothership, which would be our home for the next 6 days. After an overnight ride we started the fishing adventure on the Rio Jatapu in the Reserva Biológica do Uatumã area. Each day, six bass boats left the mothership at 6:30 a.m. filled with two fisherpeople and one local guide. We sought the colorful Tucunaré (Peacock Bass, Cichla Temensis) with their explosive take and occasional leaps out of the water.
And catch fish we did. We were particularly lucky as the river and lake levels were rapidly lowering, leaving more terrain to fish. Making our way through tight inlets, we fished a number of lakes, while each day moving to a new location with the mothership back downstream. In addition to Tucunaré, some caught Apapá, Arawana, Wolf Fish (Traira), Dog Tooth Characin (Payara), Needle Jaw (Acestrorhynchus), and yes Piranha. Both species of freshwater dolphin were also common, though rarely around our fishing boats After a cool-down and lunch from noon to 2:30, we returned each afternoon slinging either a fly or lure into the jungle waters. The sunlight was exactly 12 hours, so we returned at 5:30 p.m. for a pitcher of caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail), then had dinner and enjoyed the evening showing pictures and telling fishing stories – some of which entailed a semblence of truth.
Though the crew spoke limited English, we easily communicated with them and had a true sense of friendship and comradery. It truly was an extraordinary trip for the three of us, and Rock Vitale has already made reservations to return in 2019. If you see one of us around your town, please allow us to tell you some more fish stories.
David Gratson, CEAC
Senior Technical Chemist
This article is brought to you by David Gratson. For more information you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org