The title of this post should actually be Yavari River piranha fishing, but Amazon River piranha fishing sounds a little more bucket list worthy material (not to mention more SEO friendly). The Yavari River is a tributary of the Amazon and acts as the border between Peru and Brazil. I started this tour in Leticia, Colombia. We cruised up the Amazon for an hour until we reached the Yavari River.
The Amazon River where Brazil, Peru, and Colombia meet is pretty commercial. It is busy with boat traffic and the shores are somewhat deforested and built up. This is why it is necessary to head up one of the wilder tributaries for a more jungle like experience.
Amazon River piranha fishing a triple bucket list experience
Fishing for piranha on the Amazon River was for me a triple bucket list experience. First of all, even laying eyes on the Amazon River was a bucket list item in of itself. I will never forget descending into the small airport in Leticia when all of a sudden the enormous river came into view. I had an aisles seat, so I was craning my neck like a bucket list hungry giraffe as the great river came into view. The Argentinian couple who I was hovering over noticed that I had an interest in seeing the river from the window, how could they not, and were nice enough to snap a few pictures with my phone.
The second bucket list item fulfilled was getting on a boat and cruising up the Amazon. As I mentioned, the river was somewhat built up in this section, but it was still a beautiful and an unforgettable experience. It was a thrill to see all the fishing boats and passenger boats heading downstream as we headed upstream. We even saw a few dolphins.
The third bucket list item was fishing for piranha. Piranha for a boy growing up in the United States are almost a mythical fish. Often revered and feared at the same time due to their legendary teeth and appetite. I used to love watching nature shows featuring the Amazon River and especially the piranha. I remember a few of my friends had them in their fish aquarium at home, which was a huge cause for jealousy. Is it wrong to covet thy friends fish.
Piranha fishing on the Yavari River
When I checked in at Amazon Jungle Trips and found that piranha fishing was one of the included activities, I was delighted. I enjoy fishing for anything, but to have the opportunity to catch a famed piranha was even better. I had a permanent grin on my face from the moment I booked the tour, and the grin kept increasing as I got closer to having a wooden pole in my hand.
We set out on our boat toward the fishing hole. The party consisted of our Peruvian guide, myself, Colin from England, a young lady from Canada, and a couple from Germany. We would be fishing with long wooden poles with a fishing line and a hook attached. It was nothing fancy. Our guide baited our hook with some sort of dead fish.
We then put our line in the water and waited. We did not have long to wait. All of us got strikes almost immediately. We also all instantly lost our bait. It did not take long for the piranha or other fish to steal our bait. This happened again and again and again. We were constantly sticking our hook in our guides’ face for a re-bait. Most of my fishing experience takes extreme patience as it is possible to go hours sometimes days without catching fish or even getting a bite depending on the quality of the fishing hole, the day, and your luck or skill. This was not the case here.
The action was immediate, but it was extremely difficult to set the hook. I tried letting the fish eat the bait before setting, but this did not work. Then I tried setting the hook immediately, but this did not work. I tried everything in between, but the fish kept stealing our bait. At one point our guide stuck the wood pole in the water and swished it around. Normally, I would never consider such a tactic as this would only scare the fish away, but I guess since piranha are such bad ass fish that this technique only antagonizes them to strike. We all adopted this strategy as you can see in the video.
Finally, someone in our group caught a fish, but it was not a piranha. It was a skinny odd looking fish that looked like a cross between a catfish and a guppy. Eventually, my bait went down, and I set the hook. For a thrilling minute I fought what I believe was a piranha. The fish turned sideways in the water and it was more round than the strange skinny fish others had caught. Piranha are kind of shaped like a panfish and that was the shape of this fish on my hook in the water. Unfortunately, he was able to take my bait and get off the hook. Still, it was super exciting to have what I believe was a piranha on the line.
No piranha today
This was pretty much the pattern for everyone fishing today. A few lucky ones caught the strange skinny fish, but no one pulled in a piranha. I may have been the closest with an almost confirmed view of a piranha on my line, but since it got away, I can only guess. Despite the lack of piranha luck, it was an incredible experience. They always say a bad day fishing beats a good day of work and that saying is true a hundred times over if the day fishing is spent on a tributary of the Amazon River between Peru and Brazil. We ended the attempt with a refreshing swim on a sand bar. If you can’t beat them, join them.
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