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Pirarucus & Samurais

Capt. Nelson Lage
December 24, 2008
Mexiana Island - Freshwater Fishing Report


Approximately 100 miles in a straight line from Belém (capital of the State of Para), Mexiana is one of the biggest fluvial islands of the world, with approximately 100,000 hectares.The island is completely uninhabited, with the exception of a very pleasant lodge, the Marajó Park Resort, where the comfort and commodity of air-conditioned apartments are only supplanted by the fine food and drinks enriched with regional flavors.

The first time I went to Mexiana, invited by Mr. Nelson Lage owner/operator of PESCAMAZON www.pescamazon.com.br came with us four very excited Japanese guests. We left Belem at six in the morning in a twin engine plane, and one hour later we were landing on a fine strip 200 meters from the hotel. Half hour later we went fishing.

It is very funny seeing Japanese fisherman at work. They yell like samurais in the old Japanese movies, and act like a "Go" theater impersonators: Dekai, Dekai, means, "the fish is big". Or Monsta, Monsta (it is a monster). But their cries are not a simple yell like you or me would give. The body talk, the facial expression, the fighting posture they manage to do, really remember me one the Akiro Kurosawa movies. They hold their rods, as the old warriors used their katanas (swords)

After a long fight with a stubborn fish, the war cry taihen desune together with a big mouth showing fierce teeth, wide eyes and arched eyes brows, means that he is getting tired with the fight.

And when they loose the fish, a black veil closes their faces, and after some seconds, an ear splitting Dame da explodes in the air. I will not translate it. But I heard the same kind of words when an American truck driver got mad with his girl friend.

Besides those moments, they are the most quiet and peaceful of all clients. They almost do not talk, seldom stop fishing, even for food or drink brakes. If it is an 8-hour trip, they fish 8 hours continuously. Except when the fish hits the bait and starts the theater.

Our standard fishing day, had the following schedule: At 6 am, the van would take us in a 10 minute ride to the river "Urubu" and we were loaded in a mother boat that would carry us to different channels in one of the 5 lakes around the hotel. In the lakes we were transferred in pairs to small boats already supplied with local deck hands, bait, ice chest, and propelled with electric motors. At noon the mother boat would came back to pick us up, and we were taken to a stilt-house in the middle of the lake. Then a meal was served and some of us would take a nap. But not the Japanese...they kept on fishing for piranas for later use as live baits. At 2.30 pm we would go back to the lake and stay fishing until 5.30 when the mother boat would collect us and ride 25 minutes back to the hotel.


The pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) is the biggest fish with scales in Brazilian waters. It can reach more than 200 pounds. The name Pirarucu in Indian means "red fish" because its tail has big red spots. The "IGFA All Tackle World Record" is 149 pound. To hook a pirarucu is very simple. The lake channels are generally no wider than 30 feet. So you need to make only short casts along the margins; but you really need casting skills to keep your bait from getting tangled in the abundant floating vegetation the locals call "murure."

It is very useful to have a good Dacron leader because the first thing the pirarucu does after being hooked is to run under the "murure." Then if your line does not immediately break, and the fish has not tangled himself and stays put, you will need a lot of patience. Pass your boat through the "murure" using a machete until you locate where your leader is and then grab it. The average size of the fish we caught in four days, were between 20 and 30 pounds. The biggest was one 65 pound fish, almost 5 ˝ feet in length. All fish were released.

But many of then were found floating dead next day. The big # 7 hooks used, when swallowed by the fish, turn themselves at killing instruments. Next time I will try circle hooks. I am sure that the survival rate will increase considerably.

So the Japanese would not touch live baits anymore. They changed for artificial and caught many pirarucus using Yosuri, surface and mid-water lures.

Due to the success of the use of artificial lures, I think that flyfishing will have a great potential there.

Note: After writing this article I went back to Mexiana, and used only circle hooks. The survival rate was 99%.

Kdu Magalhăes
IGFA Certified Captain

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We are an organization specialized in fish tourism, based in the Amazon - Brazil, operating exclusively in the amazon basin.

Contact Info:

Pescamazon Sportfishing - Amazon Brazil
Conj. Catalina tv-3 n. 121
Belém - Amazon, 66640280
Phone: 55 91 32794907
Alt. Phone: 55 91 91154230
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