Water levels in Dry Zone #3 (upper Rio Negro River) have experienced higher than normal conditions through November & December of 2016. The high water levels on upper Rio Negro River from Sao Gabriel down to Manaus have been acting like a dam keeping not only the Rio Negro but also the Rio Branco and their tributaries from dropping. This is very evident on River Plate’s Jufari River exclusive fishery where the upper end of the river is experiencing much better water levels and subsequently better fish catches than the lower end of the river where it flows into the Rio Negro. Anglers fishing the upper Rio Negro with mother boat and lodge operators in November and December have reported that high water levels have slowed fishing success in these heavily fished areas where the majority of the Peacock Bass fishing pressure occurs. Water levels had begun to fall the last week of November but increased sharply beginning the first week of December and have continued on the upswing from Moura, located about 50 miles downriver from Barcelos, all the way up to San Gabriel several hundred miles upriver from Barcelos. This is not unusual for early December as the upper Rio Negro watershed usually experiences what is called the “Christmas rains” the first two weeks of December. Historically the water levels in the upper Rio Negro watershed tend to decrease the last two weeks of December and into January. Lets hope for a decrease in water levels to help to get the water out of the vegetation on the main rivers edges and get the Peacock Bass out of the brush for the second half of the 2016-2017 fishing season.
Anglers report that due to the high water conditions on the main river channels of the Rio Negro, trolling jigs and flies next to the flooded brush and cover near the rivers edge has been the most productive form of fishing as large areas of water can be covered in pursuit of the widely dispersed Peacock Bass. Fishermen fishing the upper ends of the tributaries to the Rio Negro where water levels are lower have reported catches of 30 – 40 Peacocks per day on subtle top water lures the likes of Jumping Minnows and Spook type baits as well as casting subsurface jerk baits and jigs as overall these waters are not as high as the main river channels.
Water levels in Dry Zone #4 and it’s tributaries to the Rio Branco and the north side of the Rio Negro are still higher than is ideal for good Peacock Bass fishing. This is the historic norm as these waters do not normally experience ideal water conditions until after the first of the year.
Water levels in Dry Zones 1 & 2 in the Rio Madeira watershed are still very low and unfishable, having experienced historic low water conditions in 2016.
Jim Kern has a long history in the Peacock Bass world. Jim has fished in Brazil 32 times since 1997 with both fly and conventional tackle. Jim developed and ran the American office for Captain Peacock from 2010 thru 2013 was the Vice President and General Manager of Amazon Tours from 1998 thru 2003. Through Emu Outfitting, his outfitting company of 30 years, he managed Alaska’s Rainbow Bay Resort from 2007-2009 & Alaska’s Angry Eagle Lodge 2013 & 2014. Jim holds a Coast Guard Captains license, has been a registered fishing guide in Alaska, Montana and Idaho and has been a fly tier for 40 years. Jim also was a 3 time American League All Star baseball pitcher in 1977, 78, and 79 & the American League Relief Pitcher of the year in 1979.