Bolivia Posted on 23 Jan 13:33
I remember watching videos of Larry Dahlberg fishing La Zona and seeing massive Golden Dorado viciously attack top water baits like I have never imagined before. With that show the dorado immediately jumped on my bucket list of fish I “need” to catch. Five years after that show my dad informed me we were going to Bolivia to target the Dorado. It was a successful and amazing first trip so it was no surprise we opted to go back for a second time.
Just like the year before my Dad and I anxiously waited in Santa Cruz for an early flight out of civilization and into the headwaters of the Amazon. After a two hour flight over the dense Amazon rain forests we landed in one of the most remote parts of the world, The Isiboro Secure National Park. The Bolivian government protects this area, making sure that its beauty and wildlife is protected.
Our guide informed us we were going to explore some untouched water the following few days. After a quick dinner we condensed and got our gear ready for the trip down the Secure River.
The following morning we jumped in a dugout canoe and began our journey down river. During our drift downstream we threw Deerhair Deceivers and caught dorado varying from 2-18 lbs. As the sun started to set we reached the tributary we intended on fishing for the next couple days, the Agua Negra.
With the diminishing light we had we hurried our way up the small Agua Negra until we reached a large sand bank which we made home base. While setting up camp I noticed one of our local guides battling something on the bank of the river. I walked towards him and noticed he was battling a large fish on a hand line which was nearly pulling him in. After an intense tug of war battle a large Surubi catfish ended up flapping on the beach with the guide standing proud by its side.
The next morning I woke up to to the smell of catfish cooking on the fire and the noise of dorado slashing baitfish on the river bank, what a start to a day. After a quick breakfast we started venturing up river. When the sun rose high enough it was easy to see why it was called the “black river”. The rivers was full of Sabalo, which carpeted the floor making it appear black. Each run that appeared deep enough we fished and caught several fish up to 15 pounds.
At the end of the day we reached a beautiful deep pool that had a school of Pacu that were feeding on falling nuts and leaves from a group of trees above. I tied a large nut imitation on the end of my line and spotted a cruising Pacu. I placed the fly in the path of a Pacu and we watched him effortlessly slurp the fly down. After a hook set the fish shot around the pool until it found a log jam that it wrapped itself in hopes of breaking the leader. I knew that I had to act quickly to beat the fish and I decided to jump in the water to unwrap the fish and line from the log jam by hand. After a few seconds of swimming and untangling I surfaced with a quality Pacu that we quickly took photos of and released.
The sun was starting to set so we started our drift downstream to our campsite on the way we caught several hard fighting Yatoranas including a trophy 6 pounder that my dad caught.
On day three we headed back up the Secure River to the main camp stopping at the occasional pool to fish. Fishing was fantastic and my dad landed a 20 lber and we both caught several “teen” size fish.
That night after filling my empty stomach I ran down to the home pool to take a few casts. The rivers banks were dark enough that I couldn’t see the tip of my 9’ rod but I could hear the river boiling with feeding fish. I swung a fly through the pool and was immediately rewarded with a hard strike. I knew it was a big fish but I didn’t realize how big until I beached it - a mid twenty pound fish which we quick photographed and released .
The following day after a 10 minute flight we arrived at the second camp.
We were excited to fish the middle beat of the Pluma river, which provided us with some of our biggest fish the year before. Unfortunately we consumed too much coffee and coca leaves that left us jittery; we fished poorly that afternoon and lost several beautiful fish.
The following day we were off to fish the Itirizama. Ramiro Baddeschi, our guide for the day, started us off with a long walk through the jungle to the upper section of the beautiful Itirizama. After a couple hour hike we were rewarded with giant dorado feeding furiously on helpless salbablo in every pool and run we encountered. I couldn’t tell you how many fish we caught that day but I can tell you it was one of the most memorable day of fishing I’ve ever had.
That night a cold front moved in and the following morning we woke up to a climate we were used to in New England. After a slow cold day I had little hope of catching any sizable fish when my line started peeling off the reel at a rapid pace. After a run that dumped over a 50 yards of backing I knew I was locked into a big fish. After a long fight the fish finally came to hand. It was estimated to be a high-twenty pound fish, my personal best Dorado. Making it a perfect ending to a perfect trip.
The following morning my Dad and I jumped on our flight back to the USA, sore and tired, with unforgettable memories.