Cash and I joined Jon Covich of Fly Water Travel and three other anglers for a peacock bass adventure in remote eastern Colombia. Fly Water Travel handled our booking with Afloat Tours. Our trip was fantastic. Filled with new discoveries and exciting fishing I highly recommend this trip.
We flew through Miami to Medellin where we stayed in a nice hotel (Hotel Diez) in the EL Poblado neighborhood of the very large (Pop. 6.5 million) city of Medellin. The hotel is located in a great neighborhood with numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and retail shops. It was easy to walk to dinner our first night and last night.
The next morning our group was transported by an Afloat representative to the regional airport where a charter plane flew us approximately 1.5 hours east to the agricultural hub of La Primavera. After a quick lunch we drove approximately 3.5 hours to the “Gavilon” River (meaning Osprey in the local Spanish Translation). The long drive over rough road took us through rough farmland and scattered jungle along waterways. The Afloat Camp staff greeted us and after quickly loading supplies and our gear motored us up river about an hour to camp.
The Afloat Camp is highly organized and powered 24 hours a day by generators. The three owners of Afloat Adventures are young enthusiastic service-oriented guys looking to expand their tourism operations throughout Colombia. We found Simone and his crew to be thoughtful and willing to jump at any request. Two anglers shared a floating cabin complete with shower, toilet, lighting, two power outlets, fans, basic beds, mosquito netting (we never used) and a small storage unit. Each morning you were picked up and dropped off from your floating cabin deck.
Breakfast was served each morning between 6am and 6:30am. Coffee was available earlier if needed. The camp is well located on a massive beach, perfect for enjoying sunset and sunrise from your cabin or while sitting around the fire. Traditional Colombian food, pork, arepas, eggs, potatoes, fruit and much more were served for breakfast throughout the week. The food was really good, not fancy but really good. Often for lunch one of the camp boats would come up river to meet our group of anglers and prepare a wonderful shoreside lunch of chicken, pork, rice, salad and other tasty dishes. It was a nice touch that saved fishing time. Dinner was served around 7pm and again was largely Colombian fair. Wine, beer, water and soft drinks were always available in camp and on your boat. Temperatures often exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and never really got cooler than the high 60s at night. It was hot!
The fishing program we booked included 6 full days and 7 nights in camp along with two nights in Medellin one on each side of our stay. Fishing days began around 7am where our guide Jorge would pick us up. Rods loaded we would head up or down river depending on the beat assigned. Peacock bass fishing is a blast! I have no idea how many thousands of casts we made but the tactic employed largely consists of casting an 8 or 9wt rod with a floating, intermediate tip, or fast sinking tip line towards structure, cover or defined depth, and retrieving your large baitfish pattern. Each cast brings hope that a lively and color Peacock Bass will abruptly interrupt your retrieve. Leaders consist of a single piece of 60lbs mono or fluro tippet 3-5ft in length, super technical I know…
Our fishing was very good. Overall the guides, owners and Jon, who had done the trip the same week last year, felt that the fishing was much tougher this year. Nonetheless we had a great time catching plenty of fish every day. Fish ranged in size from 1-20lbs. The river color varied from clear to brown depending upon depth and location. Most of the time your fly was visible early in the retrieve and then would disappear in depth but vicious strikes were visible despite the water not being clear. We did have some really cool sight fishing on shallow clear water beaches where we cast to sighted peacocks. Each fishing day included a stop for lunch and ended around 6pm, sunset in this part of the world. Days are long and enjoyable. You are in the heat all day with very little shade, hydrating is critical. Coolers were loaded and then loaded again at lunch with water, Gatorade, and beers.
The bird life in this area of Colombia is mind boggling. Each day we observed new species and when I return it will be with a bird I.D book in hand.
Caymans, iguanas, snakes, Tapir, Capybara, Jaguar, and monkeys inhabit the jungle edge of the river. We saw all but snakes and Jaguars during our stay. Most mornings the guttural calls of the Howler Monkeys were in full effect, it was awesome. There are undoubtedly more species here than I am mentioning. As with the inhabitants of the water I was amazed at how many species resided in the area.
Other than peacock bass we caught bicuda, arawana, pirana, catfish and pleco (the last two by collecting sunken logs). There are innumerable insects and some do bite, so covering yourself both from the sun and the bugs is vital. After the sun went down the bugs subsided but during the day we were covered from head to toe in lightweight angling apparel. We even wore socks while in the boat as to protect feet from bites and burns but still be able to tell whether you were stepping on the line or not.
- Fast action 8- and 9-weight rods.
- RIO Jungle Lines, must have floating, intermediate and fast sinking versions with you.
- 60lbs Mono or Fluoro.
Flies should be 1/0-4/0 – our best flies were Rainy’s CF Baitfish, CF Whistler and variations of “Bulkhead” ties on the new Ahrex PR378 hook. EP Jungle streamer and baitfish in 2/0 to 4/0 are also great. Key colors seemed to be white and chartreuse, white and olive, white and sand, white and chartreuse, orange and chartreuse, black was not liked by the guides at all.
Sun gloves and stripping finger protection are critical.
The Afloat season is short, only 12 weeks Jan-March. It’s the dry season in this region so the later in the season the lower the water. How this translated to fishing I really can’t say.
Having a couple of extra days in Medellin would be a good idea and Jon Covich can help with organized tours.
Guides spoke almost no English so having Spanish language or an app on your phone would be really helpful. Even just brushing up on “fishing Spanish” would be a good call.
Embracing the camping feel was really fun, showers were river water piped into your room, water temps are between 80-90 degrees. Evening campfires before and after dinner were great. Local musicians came and played traditional music one night.
Despite the heat we did have two epic night time storms and the floating cabins handed the rain and wind with ease.
We loved this trip and are planning on doing it again in 2022. If you have interest in joining us in early March of 2022 please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Caddis Fly Angling Shop
Chris Daughters has only ever had one job, a one trick pony as it were. Chris starting working at the Caddis Fly when he was 12, bought it when he was 26. Chris has a lovely family who has been running the shop with him since 2001 when he married his wife Shauna. They liked fly fishing travel so much they bought a lodge in New Zealand in 2013, sold it in 2019. The family had a phenomenal experience and feel it's given them unique insights to host, book, and consult about fly fishing trips. Chris and family have been hosting trips around the globe for the past 20 years. Chris feels he has been absolutely blessed, lucky, fortunate, you name it, it's been awesome! After 25+ years in retail he still likes the challenge. Chris really appreciates his great staff that allows him to work from wherever whenever.