Meredith McCord and photographer, Matt Jones, of Tailwaters recently returned from jungle angling in Kendjam in the Amazon Basin of Brazil with Untamed Angling. We will be featuring Meredith’s daily record of her angling ventures in a nine-part travel journal. This is part one.
Beyond the Roads
Kayapo’s Legacy is one of Untamed Angling’s newest lodges. The uniqueness of this Brazilian Amazon fishery on the Iriri River is the emerald clear waters and variety of species available on the fly. I’m heading down with Tailwaters Travel’s staff photographer Matt Jones on an expedition to document and explore this “far off the beaten path” fishery, located deep in the Mekragnoti Indigenous Indian Territory.
This territory and Kendjam’s project encompass more than 800 km of rivers, including three main tributaries. Twenty years ago, a small group of Kayapo Indians broke away from their main village to leave behind the alcoholism and corruption that their tribe was experiencing further up river. This new tribe settled at the base of a huge mountainous rock they call Kendjam.
For the last two years, the Kayapo Indians have worked with the Brazilian government to protect their region and their people. And in 2015, Untamed Angling was invited to set up camp and be among the first outsiders to fish the clear waters of Kendjam.
There are about 200 indigenous Indians now living in the village, and each family occupies a single mud and thatch fortified hut. The tribe is run by three chiefs, one of whom will be with us for the week.
- Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Large Duffle Bag (waterproof) – COMING SOON!
- Fishpond Castaway Roll Top Waterproof Gear Bag (cameras, snacks, scales, tippet material) – COMING SOON!
- Fishpond Dakota Rod Carry-on Case (Holds eight reels and rods.)
- YETI Hopper Flip (Doubles as a perfect as a boat bag for all my fly boxes – easy to access.)
- Overboard’s Pro-Sport 20-liter Waterproof Backpack
- Overboard’s Pro-Lite 3-liter Waterproof Waist Pack
- Overboard’s SLR Waterproof Camera 6-liter Bag
Rods: (recommended 5-8wt with two 7s or 8s)
What I brought:
- 5wt Thomas and Thomas Solar with RIO Grand floating line on an Abel Super 5N (dry fly rod – pacu)
- 6wt Thomas and Thomas Solar with RIO Redfish floating line on an Abel Super 5 (dry fly rod – matrincha)
- 7wt Thomas and Thomas Solar with RIO Redfish floating line on an Abel Super 7-8 (poppers/streamers)
- 8wt Sage ONE with RIO Outbound Short intermediate tip on an Abel Super 7-8 (peacock bass/trahire with streamers)
- 8wt Hardy Proaxis with Cortland 350gr sinking line on a Ross reel (payara/piranha with streamers)
- Dry fly assortment – Umpqua’s hoppers and chubby Chernobyl in hook sizes 2-6 and in colors black, red, pink, and yellow. If you have a fly that looks like a berry or fruit, these are great for the pacu as well.
- Streamers – These fish have wicked teeth and strong jaws so strong (2/0 – 4/0) hooks are a must. See Umpqua’s new Jungle Love, Big Fish Deceiver, Flashtail Whistler, Super Mushy, Major Bunker, Red/Whire Tarpon Snake and Clouser assortments. The colors: white, white and chartreuse, black/red and red and white. (Note: Peacocks love rattles)
- Poppers – Again, strong (2/0-4/0) hooks are needed. Umpqua’s Saltwater Red/White Popper, Peacock Crease Fly, Pole Dancer and any large foam head popper that can create a lot of noise and action are good choices.
- Rio Fluorocarbon leader: 16lb, 20lb, 30lb
- Rio PowerFlex Wire Tippet: 30lb and 40lb. (Everything seems to be toothy.)
Personal Travel Essentials: (aside from my clothes and good wading boots)
- YETI 20oz Rambler for my morning travel coffee (long boat rides)
- YETI 18oz Bottle for my cold water
- YETI Neoprene Drink Jacket – easy to pack and brought as guide gifts
- Nexcare Waterproof Tape or Stripping Finger Sleeves – Humidity and peacock mouths can tear up your fingers.)
- 15lb Boga Grip or similar scale – These are very toothy critters and need to be handled carefully.
- Long nose pliers to remove hooks from toothy species
- Abel Size #2 Pliers – Make certain to bring pliers with good cutters as wire cutting is essential
- Abel Nippers on a lanyard (Always easy to find.)
- BassPro Beef Jerky (Bring to share.)
- Granola Bars (It is hot, so ones that won’t melt.)
- Welch’s Fruit Chews (Might melt.)
- Nuts (Though the Brazilians have bags of Brazil nuts if you ask.)
- Crystal Light individual drink mix packets. (The guides always love these … bring plenty.)
Day 1 – Traveling to Manaus, Brazil
It took two flights to get to Brazil: Houston to Miami (2.5 hours), where I met up with Matt, and then Miami to Manaus (5.5 hours). Getting through customs was quick and easy, and Matt and I joined my old friend Jackson, whom I met last year at Rio Marié, and the English-speaking tour guide, Marco. Marco is very informative and full of fun local facts — and he can take you to the “must see” fish market and bird sanctuary.
Manaus is the second largest city, with a population of two million, in the Amazon Basin. It’s located three degrees south of Equator on the Rio Negro, and we stayed here for the night at the Caesar Business Hotel, a 10-minute drive from the international airport.
After a long day of travel, we were excited and enjoyed sipping beers and wine. (This is the only alcohol we’d have for the week, as the lodge is “dry” in an effort to keep temptation away from the hospitable Kayapo Indians). We were also joined by Brazilian movie producer Roberto Mauro, my fishing partner from last year’s trip to Rio Marié. After catching up with the animated Roberto (all “Rs” are pronounced as “Hs” in Brazil) over delicious pizza and Chilean wine, the three of us retired for the night as we knew adventure awaited us the next day and week ahead.
– Meredith McCord