Not in Texas anymore

I recently returned from my trip to the Amazon, and if I had to describe it in one word, I’d say: Amazing!

This trip was everything I had dreamed it would be and more. The scenery, the fishing action, the houseboat we stayed on — the whole experience combined to make this the trip of a lifetime.

Peacock bass are the main attraction for Amazon fishing trips, but this massive system holds a huge variety of species. Along with peacocks, we caught piranha, bicuda and a type of catfish called a surubim.

That last one has to be the weirdest looking fish I’ve ever caught. It has a long flat head with big whiskers, and it looks like someone took a marker and drew all over its sides. It looked like something out of a cartoon, but that fish put up one heck of a fight.

And talk about a fight — the highlight of my trip was catching an 80-pound redtail catfish. We had lost three other giants that day, so when I finally wrestled that one into the boat, I was pretty excited.

At first they didn’t want to take me catfishing because none of the guides really did that, and they weren’t set up for catfishing. I kept bringing it up and finally, at the end of the trip I said, “Show me your tackle, and I’ll make it work.”

I grabbed some big weights, circle hooks and heavy leader and we went catfishing. My guide didn’t really know where to go for big catfish, so I pointed out an area that looked good to me. One of the things that made this a cool experience was that we fished with chunks of piranha we had caught the night before.

We had a blast with the peacock bass too. My goal was to catch a 20-pounder and, even though I didn’t get one that big, we caught a bunch of quality fish. The water was down, so the fish were concentrated. Sometimes, we’d hit the right point and catch 15 to 20 one after another.

The great part about this is that I caught ‘em the way I wanted to — I threw a big topwater prop bait called a Wood Chopper. This is a big, noisy bait, so it tends to attract the most aggressive fish. Just like I’d heard, the blowups were incredible.

Throughout the week, we saw lots of monkeys, macaws and other birds. We also saw signs of jaguars; we saw their paw prints where they had come down to the water to drink. We even found one of their recent kills by the river.

The food was another memorable part of the trip — lots of fresh fish, local fruits and a wide variety of nuts. I even ate a few types of ants cooked different ways.

One of the greatest things about a trip like this is the people you meet. My guide, Ozzi, was a lifelong river rat who didn’t hardly speak any English, but he was really funny. He knew words like “log,” and he’d say “salad” when he meant grass and aquatic weeds.

He really didn’t like it when we got hung up so he used those words whenever that happened. I was impressed by how quickly he could get a bait free.

One thing I thought was interesting is you’d see these kids paddling along the river in a little canoe, and they were miles away from anything. We’d go over and give them cokes and candy bars and then watch them paddle away.

This Amazon experience was kinda like a whole spiritual revival in many ways. It was great to get away and enjoy something unique, and it really makes you appreciate what you have back home.

It also got me back into fishing shape. Spending all day out in the sun throwing that Wood Chopper — that’s work.

This was definitely something I’ll never forget — and somewhere I’ll try to get back to.