Peacock Bass Fishing 2016 – Day 8 – My Trouble Begins

Thursday, 2/4/2016 

I wake up at 4 a.m. with a crampy pain in my left hand and it takes an aspirin to help me get back to sleep again.  It’s an interesting pain–puffiness mixed with tingliness in my hand, and when I place my arm just so on my bed I experience a ray of painful tingles up the area where my tricep would be had it not fallen off years ago.  As the aspirin works to make the pain bearable, I have plenty of time to wonder if I’ll be able to handle a fishing pole.  I contemplate duct tape and how helpful if might be to have my hand duct taped to the fishing pole if I can’t hold onto it.  I fall back to sleep realizing that the life of a bureaucrat who types emails eight hours a day does not make for a fit angler in the Amazon.

Two hours later at breakfast, I hold a cold can of Coke to my left hand and the cold seems to help a little.  The guys don’t seem to notice as they talk about the tree frog calling out all last night.  Curt says the frog finally shut up around five a.m.  and that if he could have brought a loaded shotgun he’d have blown the frog right out of the tree so he could have slept better.  I can only laugh.

It’s a warm morning but the icy pop and aspirin has made it such that I can grab onto a pole, so nothing else really matters.   Sappo guides our boat into a lagoon where peacock bass are chasing bait fish near tiny, grass-lined islands.  We use our surface baits to attract them around the islands, and, in deeper areas we throw jigs.

Some of our jigs.
Some of our jigs.

Every time we hear splashes, Sappo moves the boat in that direction.  After a few casts, and we are usually able to entice the fish to bite. It’s an interesting way to fish—listen for splashes, move in that direction and cast to the big splashes.

Mark's biggest fish of the day.
Mark’s biggest fish of the day.

I’m in an intense fishing groove for hours, until just before lunch, when a wave of heat overcomes me.  There’s no breeze and I’m feeling suddenly woozy, so Mark asks Sappo to pull off onto one of the islands so I can cool off …and take a leak in the water.   The lagoon is so open I have no other option for taking a leak anyway, and this way, I can solve two problems at once. As I sit down, it feels like sitting in a giant puddle after a warm rain storm, the only difference being that these puddles have piranhas in them.  I know piranhas won’t attack unless cornered or threatened, and feel like a kid, sitting in water up to my chest, splashing the water.  Truly, the only difference between me and a kid are a few wrinkles and the fact that part of my heat is due to hot flashes.

After I’ve cooled off,  we motor back to the same area we’d started fishing earlier. We’re about to head out of the lagoon when a fish hits my line, drags me and the boat to an underwater log I didn’t see, and hangs me up there. Sappo waves at me to stop reeling because he thinks the fish has rubbed the lure off on a log and is gone.  He pulls out a long stick he keeps with him in the back of the boat, and has wrapped it around the line a couple of times to free the lure, when the line starts going out again. Sappo quickly untangles his stick from the line because it’s suddenly clear the fish is still on the line. I reel, the boat gets pulled around a bit more, I yank with all my might and pull up my biggest fish, a 14-pounder. It will remain my biggest fish of this trip, one pound shy of my biggest on our first trip to the Amazon, and one pound larger than Mark’s largest this trip.  Poor fella.

Me and the fish that beat Mark's biggest.
Me and the fish that beat Mark’s biggest.

Once we finally head out of that lagoon, the rest of the day is disappointing.  We enter one lagoon after another, one of which has a plastic bottle floating on top the water, which means it was already fished today. We retrieve the bottle and get a few fish now and again, but it’s really slow compared to the morning.

At one opening amongst some trees, Mark throws his lure and loses it to a big fish. We look for 15-20 minutes for the lure before finally giving up on ever seeing it again. I hope the big fish can rub the lure off on a log somewhere.

Some of our lures.
Some of our lures.

As we are looking for Mark’s lure, the sky darkens, the wind kicks up and it suddenly starts to pour. We motor 20 minutes in the driving rain to a small inlet, during which I discover my Marmot Precip raingear is as waterproof as a sieve.  We eat lunch in the rain under some trees while Sappo bails our boat. And then Nature calls.

For some reason, I convince myself that it’s safe to pee in the woods when it’s raining because–I surmise–snakes don’t come out in the rain.  And while I had to pee in the water earlier due to the open landscape, at lunch we’re surrounded by trees and I feel I have to venture out in search of a pee spot rather than look really obvious about it.

So off I go, springing over the land in search of a spot out of eyesight of the guys.  I find the perfect spot–behind a tree in a wallow–and there, in the Amazon, in the pouring rain, I make an interesting discovery:   wet pants and wet underwear are not easy to pull down in the rain–neither slide down easily.  I pull down my pants and, with them lying in a heap on the ground, roll down my underwear, both while reaching up under my sieve of a rain coat. Because it’s raining, it’s hard to know if I’m peeing on my own pant legs, so I just hope for the best.  And of course, using toilet paper is impossible in such condition, so when I’m done, I wiggle and roll my underwear back into place, pull up my pants, zip them, pull my rain jacket down over my butt and laugh out loud because I can’t remember being so wet in forever.  I laugh again when I realize I’ve sunk down eight inches in the unconsolidated leaf litter.

I spring back to the boat and before enjoying my cheese sandwich, stop to photograph the men, who have no idea how good they have it.

Ain't nothing like lunch in the pouring rain...after taking a leak in the pouring rain.
Ain’t nothing like lunch in the pouring rain…after taking a leak in the pouring rain.

We fish the rest of the afternoon, and over time, I’m more and more challenged by my puffy hand and my wimpy disposition. I pop another aspirin and try to ignore a bit of a shooting pain up my arm when I get a ten pound peacock in another lagoon.  My ten-pounder is followed hours later by a couple other smaller fish. All said, it’s a long afternoon; the fish not very cooperative.

It turns out that my 14-pounder makes me the big fish winner of the day, and I get congrats by all.  I thank them and say I’d do a “high five” if I could unfist my hand.  We drink beer, have a dinner of lasagna with beef and ham, and another entre of beef with potatoes.  I will note here that until this point, I had not eaten any meat.

At dinner, Curt asks about time travel and how quickly the week passed “with ye all.” He says, “Just a week ago I met you guys at the hotel and now here we are a week later.” It’s true that tie flies when you’re having fun.  Even if you can’t give high fives to celebrate that fact.


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