Destination Reports

Destination Recap - Agua Boa Lodge 2024

Landon Mace April 17, 2024

"At one point during the week, at the end of another amazing day, the group converged at the pool and it hit me... I’m in the middle of the Amazon, chasing some truly amazing fish, spending time with great people, drinking a cold caipirinha and lounging in a beautiful swimming pool. It truly doesn’t get much better than this."

The Agua Boa Amazon Lodge is one of the most well-known peacock bass destinations in the world, and after spending a solid week catching a wide array of species, enjoying some thoroughly satisfying cuisine and viewing a plethora of amazing jungle wildlife, it’s easy to see why.

I was fortunate to find enough space in their schedule to host a small group to Agua Boa this past March. The late season timing typically offers great sight fishing opportunities, and my group was excited to see what the jungle would have in store for us. As with most of my travel to Amazonian destinations from Southern Oregon, all my connections were made relatively smoothly stopping in Los Angeles, Panama City, and finally to the Manaus International Airport. Thankfully, the customs procedure in Manaus was a breeze (as is typical) and they made the process of entering the country very easy.

After collecting my luggage, we were met by an Agua Boa representative that loaded my gear and transferred me to the Blue Tree Premium Hotel where I met up with the group and enjoyed a fantastic dinner at a Brazilian steak house, only a short walk from the hotel.

Early the next morning we met in the lobby for a quick breakfast and then hopped in the van for transport to the domestic airport. One fantastic piece of the travel equation for Agua Boa is that the charter flight to the lodge from Manaus is relatively short and provides ample views of the jungle and surrounding eco-system prior to landing directly at the lodge. After arriving we quickly realized that Agua Boa is an extremely comfortable operation that offers a great crew of staff and guides with a sublime swimming pool to cool down at the end of a day.

The Fishing Program
The lodge’s fishing areas are broken into 7 main zones on the Rio Agua Boa. Zone 1 starts upriver with Zone 7 down river. Each zone proceeds lower in the system before it eventually reaches the confluence with the Rio Branco. Each zone has its own character with a variety of fishing either in the main river or the lagoons located in the surrounding jungle. Each guide caters to a specific zone, so they are completely in-tune with where the fish are generally located and the best spots to focus efforts each day.

Our visit at the tail end of the season coincided with generally low water levels and during a historically low water year, but all things considered, we experience great fishing. The joy of the late season fishery is that it provides some very good sight fishing opportunities, and this held true throughout our week. The excitement of our guides when a fish presented itself for a visible shot was infectious. I truly believe they love seeing their guests catching fish, every bit as much as the angler’s love catching them.

Fishing overall was very successful. Each boat reported good fishing every day. There are three main peacock bass species at Agua Boa. They include the butterfly, spotted, and timensis. Butterfly peacock bass are heavily schooling fish and when we found one, we were sure to find more. They are the definition of what I consider to be “crowd pleasers”, as they tend to provide lots of feeding action and are plentiful in the 2 – 8-pound range. Topwater flies and baitfish imitations, 3 - 4 inches long proved to be the best producing patterns for us. These fish provided good fun to keep the action alive between shots at larger fish.

My fishing partner and I wanted to focus on size over quantity, so the spotted and timensis species were where we invested most of our effort. These fish are known to push upwards of 20 pounds and are considered the gold standard on this stretch of the Amazon. We mostly fished with intermediate sinking lines and found they helped greatly when fish popped up for a sight fishing opportunity or when casting to structure and needed to get the fly down slightly deeper in the water column. We also utilized heavier sinking lines at times to get our larger 5 – 8-inch-long flies down deeper where some of the bigger fish are often found.

It’s fun to see a school of these larger fish attacking baitfish as a pack. We’d often be moving through a piece of water and witness them in the distance attacking bait, then as we we’d get close enough for a cast into the mayhem, the adrenaline would skyrocket.

Outside of chasing peacock bass, there were plenty of other species that made the fishing week interesting as well. We found opportunities for arowana, arapaima, pacu, and payara to name a few. We generally employed several rods rigged for the larger arapaima (as they are a bigger species demanding heavier gear), but for everything else, the standard peacock bass rods did the job well.

The wildlife we saw both around the river and in the jungle added an amazing element to the trip. We often saw giant river otters playing on the beach or swimming around the banks. The bird life was extensive with jabiru storks, orinoco geese, macaws, Amazon parrots, herons, and caracaras, in the mix to name a few. We had one encounter with a tapir that was moving on the edge of a lagoon as it stopped to smell the air with its long prehensile nose. The guide whistled to it and to our great surprise it stopped to whistle back at us!

There’s also no shortage of caimen along the banks as they were regularly spotted during the trip. Despite their ferocious appearance these docile dinosaurs generally preferred to slowly cruise along warming themselves in the sun and never bothered us or interfered with fishing. The most memorable wildlife highlight was finding a sloth trying to swim across the river. Our guide worried that it might run into a hungry caimen, so we utilized a paddle to gently scoop it out of the water and aided it to a suitable tree where it continued its way. I was beside myself at the experience of seeing this incredible animal in its natural surroundings and I’ll undoubtedly remember it for the rest of my life.

The Perfect Setups

I love fishing the Sage Payload for all my jungle adventures. The Sage Payload is a streamer chucking machine and it is the go-to tool for the job in this setting. The Sage Enforcer and Arbor XL reels both match with it perfectly in this application. I used the Arbor XL for 8-weights and below, and the Enforcer for 9-weights and above. As most anglers that have tangled with peacock bass can attest, a stout drag isn’t necessarily a requirement, as these fish tend not to make long runs and prefer instead to pull extremely hard in the general proximity of the boat. However, these reels withstand the pressures of travel, getting knocked around in boats and the demands of the heat and humidity of the jungle.

RIO’s Elite Warmwater Predator series of fly lines again worked to perfection in this application, as RIO has covered the bases throughout the entire water column with a Floating, Floating/Hover/Intermediate and a Float/Sinking 5/Sinking 7. With these various options, I was covered for any scenario that came up on the trip. I preferred to have three rods set up with three sink rates to give myself the best chance of success.

I typically bring more flies than I care to admit, but I like knowing that I have a fly for any situation that arises. The star players on this trip are the following but will undoubtedly be solid producers in any jungle venue.

RIO’s Brammer Imposter - 4/0 & 6/0: All colorways worked, but I favor the Clown, Tullibee, Yellow Perch, and Redhorse Sucker. This pattern swims well and pushes water to get fish’s attention, even is stained and tannin colored water. The peacock bass never shied away from it on this trip and when we stumbled into a school of payara, even they continued to pounce on it.

RIO’s Soft Chew - #4: This pattern easily proved its value on the trip as arowana, oscars, and butterflies all ate it with reckless abandon. We shuffled a couple of other patterns throughout the trip, however, whenever I tied this on, good things happened. The fish keyed in on it regularly and ate it immediately nearly every time. I employed this fly continuously on the topwater rod for most of the trip.

Meals & Accommodations
The rooms at Agua Boa are air conditioned and very comfortable with two queen-sized beds per room. The bathroom and shower are separated by a door, so it provided plenty of privacy. Rooms include a roomy porch that provides a beautiful view of the river and a great place for an evening cigar.

The main lodge imparts a fun atmosphere with a large sitting area and bar. In the adjacent room you can play ping pong or pool. There’s a large dining area and family style table where everyone at the lodge enjoys their meals together. Dinner is an exciting affair as everyone recounts the successes of their day and strategizes the next morning’s fishing plan while discussing what the day may bring.

Meals are taken buffet style for both breakfast and dinner. They are hearty with plenty of fruits and vegetables and a good mix of carbs and protein. Dinners typically started with soup and I loved all the fresh fish that was served each day as has generally been my experience in Brazil on a whole. Matrinxa, iranha, arapaima, and pacu are my favorites and Agua Boa prepared them brilliantly.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip with great catch rates and a fantastic lodging experience. Agua Boa undoubtedly met or exceeded all my expectations. At one point during the week, at the end of another amazing day, the group converged at the pool and it hit me... I’m in the middle of the Amazon, chasing some truly amazing fish, spending time with great people, drinking a cold caipirinha and lounging in a beautiful swimming pool. It truly doesn’t get much better than this.

Agua Boa Lodge, Brazil

Fish for a wide variety of jungle species in a pristine and unpressured jungle environment and enjoy fantastic sight fishing on some of the clearest water in the Amazon Basin.