World record for peacock bass caught in Rio Marié by Rodrigo Salles, CEO of Untamed Angling Brazil
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) announced that Rodrigo M. Salles has achieved a new world record for peacock bass!
On September 4, 2021, Rodrigo Moreira Salles was fly fishing in Rio Marie, Brazil, when he caught a 91-centimeter peacock bass (Cichla Temensis). With this fish, Rodrigo broke the IGFA All-Tackle Length World Record for the species. Rodrigo caught the huge peacock bass with a streamer-type fly after a fierce struggle in the midday heat. Salles had originally applied for the All-Tackle Length record for Fly, but was using a 50-lb class tippet, so his catch was entered in the All-Tackle Length category. A reminder that the fly category allows for a 20 pound class tippet maximum as per the IGFA fly fishing rules.
Please describe the moment you caught your fish; what equipment did you use, in which part of the river did you catch it, with what fly and at what time?
We were in our guide training week before our season started. The water levels weren’t ideal and we decided to go up the Marie River. We took three boats together and sailed through the river system for about 90 minutes. Once we arrived at one of my favorite spots upstream, we decided to fish close to each other all day. A storm was about to hit that morning and the fish went into a feeding frenzy.
They were actively feeding at the mouth of a marginal pond. One of our speedboats covered the top and the other the bottom. We arrived and immediately saw big fish moving and some fish hunting, so we mixed techniques with poppers and streamers.
In the world of peacock bass, a 20 pound fish is the big trophy everyone craves, but this morning we caught four 20 pound peacock bass at almost the same time, with two doubles in two boats. Fish lengths were 82 (Andre), 82 (Charly), 84 (Pam) and 91 centimeters. I caught the 91cm fish, which was recently confirmed as the IGFA total length record.
Together we caught 14 big fish that morning in the pond before a storm brought heavy rain.
I was using my favorite fly rod, a Thomas & Thomas Exocett SS 350 paired with a Nautilus NV-G 8/9 reel and a Scientific Anglers Sonar Jungle Custom Tip fly line.
At that moment, the fish were attacking almost anything thrown their way, but I had my lucky fly, a red/white milar tube-head strung on a 4/0 hook.
What advice would you give to fishermen looking to target giant peacock bass on the fly?
Persistence and consistency in the wild is key. I’ve seen a lot out there, and if you want to be successful for giant peacock bass on a fly rod, giving up can’t be an option. Even at 40 degrees celsius with 100% humidity, always the next pitch can bring you the long-awaited trophy. I always say that in jungle fly fishing, the difference between heaven and hell is just one cast.
Second, be prepared and practice your throwing. Fly casting is a sport. Train and dedicate yourself before your trip. For peacock bass, we cast all day, and accuracy is more important than a super long throw. My recommendation is to master a 10-15 meter cast with your fly hitting directly beside the target rather than a 25 meter throw in the middle of nowhere, or worse yet, get tangled up in trees. When the fly hits the water, move it like a wounded prey, and never lift the tip of the rod to sting the fish!
Third, make sure your equipment is very well balanced. Knots and leaders must be checked at all times, even small fish can wear out the leader. I’ve seen monster peacock bass blast 50lb fluorocarbon leaders like a 0.15mm line, broken sticks and fly lines snapping in half over and over again. The first run, a peacock bass weighing more than 10 kilos can certainly be the most intense minutes of your fishing career…
These fish always play dirty and try to go to the structure, so fight hard and try to avoid letting them reach it. If you can’t hold the fish out of the structure and they get there, don’t put any more pressure on the fish as their leader will burst.
And when you take the fish out of any structure, be on the lookout, as these giant peacock bass never give up, even when they look tired. When they approach the boat they can get nervous, so make sure the pressure is still in order to get the fish on board as quickly as possible.
Lastly, listen to your guides. They know exactly what’s going on while they’re in the water with you. Different water conditions call for different strategies, fly line density, bait size and patterns, retrieval speed and more.
Did you feel at that moment that you were your biggest fish? Did you imagine it would be a record?
I lost two beautiful fish in a row before taking this record, and I had never lost two big peacock bass in a row in my entire career. My hands were wet and I didn’t get a chance to get the first one right, and the second came like a torpedo straight for the boat. I was really upset. As soon as I saw André board the first big fish on the other boat, we went to the opposite side of a sandbar at the mouth of the lagoon. I saw three fish moving there and aimed for the first one on the right. As soon as the fly touched the water the fish looked at it and on my first run decided to chase the fly. It was very shallow, something like 50cms deep. I saw the fish and the trail he made, and it was something to take my breath away. The fish followed the fly, decided not to eat, but on my third chase, it shot towards the fly and devoured it.