The Legend of Genival
As I go thru life I find I do not have to be able to communicate with someone to call them a friend. When I was 22 and enrolled at Michigan State University I received a phone call in the middle of the night in late October from Mexico. It was an Ernesto Hays who owned a baseball team in Los Mochis, Sinaloa Mexico asking me with a heavy Spanish accent if I wanted to come to Mexico and play winter baseball their Liga Pacifica de Mexico. I had been going to college in the winters and playing minor league baseball in the Cleveland minor league chain for 5 years and had spent the summer playing for Elmira in the AA Eastern League. One of the American players on the team I had played against that summer recommended me when they needed a pitcher. I was mid way though the fall semester at Michigan State and asked him when they needed me & he said “yesterday” as the season had already started and one of their pitchers had had an injury. I wasn’t really interested until he said he would pay me $2,000.00/month and all living expenses thru the end of the year. Suddenly I was interested, as I had made $1,000.00/month that summer, 1972, playing AA ball and had to pay all my living costs. I discussed it with my wife who said if I really wanted to play Major League baseball, I could not pass up this opportunity. I flew to Tucson, Arizona 2 days later (while she packed the apartment up and headed to her parents’ place), where Ernesto picked me up in his 185 Cessna and flew me several hundred miles south of the boarder to Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortez. They took me to a hotel and dropped off this “never been out of a country where they did not speak English” person, with people that spoken only Spanish. I can remember going down to a little dirt floored place to eat, near the hotel of course so I wouldn’t get lost, looking at a menu and realizing I had no chance of ordering anything. I made my first friend that I could not communicate with when the waiter came by and realized my dilemma took me by the arm, walked me around to a couple of tables and let me look at several dishes until I pointed to one & of course I pointed to a beer too. When I was done I would give him an American green $20.00 bill and he would give me this funky looking Mexican currency as change, man could he have taken me to the cleaners…but he didn’t…or at least I don’t think he did!!! This is how this gracious man helped me eat for the better part of a month, the Spanish words I learned first was Amigo & “deme dos cervezas más por favor!” This winter ball baseball experience helped me to get to the big leagues in 1974 and stay there until 1986, as in the minor leagues they kept “good prospects” & high draft choices around if they did well or not. In winter ball you produced pronto or you were home in short order!
In 1997 I had taken several Texas Rangers baseball players to Brazil’s Amazon Peacock Bass fishing on an 85’ riverboat named the Amazon Queen. While there I made friends with the river boat captain named Genival and his young son Blackie. Genival was an indigenous Indian and I would think had very little formal education. I really enjoyed spending time with him in the wheelhouse of the Queen pointing to different things on the river and the rainforest and thru sign language and my little very limited Spanish, exchanging Portuguese and English words for them. We made a great pair, Genival at the time was in his 40’s I would say & might have made 5’ standing on his toes and I was 6”5”. In 1998 I was hired by Amazon Tours, a Brazilian based Peacock Bass fishing business that was owned and operated by an American, to develop an American marketing office in Texas for them. This necessitated me making one or two trips a year to Brazils Amazon to visit the Amazon Queen and the Rio Negro Lodge where Genival was always happy to see me and “point and recite” & watch his son Blackie grow up. I quit Amazon Tours in 2003 and became involved guiding at and managing a lodge in southwest Alaska for the next 7 years. I made one trip down to Brazil in January of 2006 to another mother boat operation and who was the captain…Genival! It was great to see him again and renew old friendships. In 2010 I was approached by the owner of Captain Peacock Yachts and Expeditions when I was down there looking to get back into booking for Peacock Bass fishing again. This gentleman had been a part time floatplane pilot for Amazon Tours when I was with them & in short order hired me to develop an American marketing office for his company Captain Peacock. On my first trip down to Captain Peacock’s 85’ mother boat the Captain Logan I see Genival again who was the pilot for the Logan & his son Blackie who is all grown up now and one of the guides for Captain Peacock. Some of my best times in the Amazon over the next 3 years were hand lining for bait fish or Piranha off the side of the mother boat or visiting Genival;s native friends with him in the villages after the fishermen had left the boat for the day. My Portuguese vocabulary had increased to maybe 25 or 30 words over the years and Genival’s English had to be up to about the same, as in very little! We still did more communicating in sign language than speaking, but it was sure a relationship I enjoyed. Blackie was rather impressive with his command of the English language and we could converse in English freely. I would always bring an IPod or something for Blackie and a watch or such for Genival and they would always have something like dried Piranha heads or fishing flies like the natives of the Amazon had tied for eons out of the inner bark of a particular tree or another native prize. We spent many hours telling lies the other could not understand and laughing like hell! We spent New Year’s night together on a remote Amazon sand bar with 10 guests and the staff of the boat, watching fireworks and all laughing at each other and celebrating the New Year, as very few Americans ever will. From somewhere he produced a bottle of Amazon home brew and he and I and at the stroke of midnight ran into the black Rio Negro. These are memories I will never forget….Genival called me his “Grande Amigo .”During the 2013 – 2014 fishing season Genival was the Captain of another mother boat and while in Santa Isabel fell from the gangplank, hit his head and drowned. About a month later I had a friend going down to fish with Captain Peacock and I was able to send Blackie several pictures of his father I had taken over our years of friendship. I have found out long ago, speaking the same language is not a prerequisite for friendship. Try interfacing with people that don’t speak your language with sign language as the Plain Indians of America communicated with each other and the white man for many, many years. It will seem silly at first, but being able to laugh at yourself is a big part of friendship and believe me, trying to communicate thru sign language can be damn funny at times! In this day and age of Facebook and Google Translate, I stay in touch with friends and past clients in Russia, Brazil, Japan and many other countries, I consider it Facebook Sign Language!
Peacock Bass fishing trips in Brazil’s Amazon have done a lot of evolving in the last 25 years. I can remember boarding the 85’ Amazon Queen mother boat upon my arrival in Manaus and traveling nearly 30 hours up the Rio Negro to reach the fishing ground just upriver from Barcelos on my first trip Peacock Bass fishing in 1997. Then on the way back it took us about 22 hours traveling down river on the Queen to arrive back to Manaus for the flight home. We killed two days of fishing running up and down the river. My next trip in 1998 we flew from Manaus to Barcelos, in a twin engine charter plane where we boarded the Queen. Once again with a half day of traveling upriver to get away from the heavily fished areas around Barcelos we lost another day of prime fishing. By day 2 were getting far enough away from Barcelos that in the late 1990’s we were getting into good fishing areas as about the only fishing competition was the local Indian subsistence fishermen. By the early 2000’s the interest in Peacock Bass fishing exploded and in 1999 the Rio Negro Lodge opened for business about 40 miles upriver form Barcelos and was soon able to accommodate 40 fishermen per week from their fixed lodge and the number of mother boats handling from 8 to 24 guests per week each went from 10 on the river to 20, to 30 and keeps increasing all operating our of Barcelos. Soon it came to a situation that after landing in Barcelos it took a full 2 days to get away from the crowds of Peacock Bass fishermen and into lightly fished areas that produced good fishing. Then you spent the last 2 days of the trip working your way back thru the heavily fished areas to get to Barcleos for you departure back to Manaus. With this advent of heavy fishing pressure the Peacock Bass became reluctant to hit the myriad of top water lures they were seeing, which was long the thrill of this game, watching the aggressive Peacock Bass smash a top water lure. The new norm became trolling jigs and flies so you could cover large swaths of water and present you lure to as many fish as possible. Not a bad way to fish, it was just not what I considered the classic Peacock Bass fishing experience many fishermen had come to Brazil’s Amazon for.
Then in 2010 I was invited down to Brazil by River Plate Anglers to see a “new to me” Peacock Bass fishing experience, flying into remote black water tributaries to the Rio Negro where you saw no other fishermen and where you were in prime fishing waters the first morning of your fishing trip. Many of the rivers they fished were above low water sand bars and obstructions that inhibited entry by the myriad of mother boats working the main Rio Negro and many were within land locked areas River Plate had lease exclusive trespass rights from the indigenous Indians of the area. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to fly from Manaus early the first morning of the 7 day trip by Caravan wheel or float plane and land in close proximity to your floating mobile Safari Camp located on a beautiful white sandbar and be fishing prime Peacock Bass fishing waters the first morning of your trip. The cabins were 250 sq ft, fully air-conditioned with two single beds side by side complete with a private bathroom and shower with camps handling small groups of nly 8 to 12 guests per week. The key to this operation was that the floating cabins only drew 4 inches of water and were moved up or down the tributaries several times a week in most any water conditions. Another thing that surprised me was the big numbers of Peacock Bass these lightly fished tributaries produced and I loved spending the evenings on the secluded sand bard the camps were on in the middle of the rain forest watching the birds and listening the monkeys rather than on deck of a mother boat watching the river traffic on the Rio Negro.
The next five years I spent managing the American office for a different mother boat Peacock Bass fishing operation in Brazil making a living and managing a premium fly-in lodge in southwest Alaska. Managing the lodge in Alaska and being able to fly to remote destinations every day, which is the premium fishing trip in Alaska, really made me want to pursue this idea again in Brazil’s Amazon. Upon retiring as General Manager of the lodge in Alaska in 2015, I began to discuss my idea of offering a remote fly-in fishing operation in the Amazon with River Plate’s floating camps being able to offer single occupancy cabins in the heart of several prime Peacock Bass fishing tributaries for all 7 days of a client’s trip. We have this operation together and are have trips offering 6 ½ or 4 ½ days of fishing , utilizing Caravan wheel and float planes to flying directly from Manaus to your Safari Camp you in primo unpressured black water tributaries with small groups of 6 fishermen per week from October thru March. You will enjoy 250 sq ft air-conditioned private cabins each with a queen bed plus private bathroom & shower. We also offer upscale food & beverage service, all adult beverages, daily maid and laundry service, custom gully equipped 21 bass boats and guides plus the use of all rods, reels & LURES as part of the trip package. We even offer single occupancy hotel rooms in Manaus the first night of your trip!
Come enjoy the premium fly-in Peacock Bass fishing experience with little to no competition on the water with small personal groups for the real Amazon Peacock Bass fishing experience you have always dreamed of. Did I mention that River Plate is the most experienced Peacock Bass outfitter in Brazil’s Amazon being one of the original pioneers of Peacock Bass fishing since 1992. We don’t say were the “World’s Best Peacock Bass Operator” we let our clients tell you that!
“Absolutely a first class trip for big dog fisherman. Excellent amenities for being in the middle of nowhere. You better be ready to fish a lot, or just stay on the porch with the small dogs. I've fished Brazil 4 times since 1998, with the last one on this venue In 2015. It was the best for serious peacock bass fishing. Jim Kern will take care of you”. James Gernentz Bay Town, Texas 18 May 2016
Visit our website www.peacock-bass-fishing.com for complete information and booking information. FISH WITH THE BEST AWAY FOR THE REST!
Rick Pope, founder of Temple Fork Outfitters rod company tells the story of a Peacock Bass spooling his bait casting reel not once, but twice in a 5 minute period while fishing in Brazil’s Amazon a couple of years ago.
“We were making the transition from one lagoon we had been fly fishing in to another thru a long inlet which we could not fly fish in. Our guide “Blackie” suggested we troll with our bait casting gear thru the inlet that was a couple of hundred yards long. I picked up my casting rig with a Shimano 200 Calcutta loaded with 65 lb test braid and a ½ oz jig and managed to make much too long a cast, nearly empting the spool on the reel. No sooner had the jig hit the water than I had a hook up with a good Peacock and the reel began to whine. As Blackie had the boat going at 5 or 6 knots, before he could get the boat turned around the Peacock Bass has emptied the line off the reel and bang I’m spooled & the line is gone! Blackie calmly backs up and seeing the braid floating, he turns around & picks it up as when the pressure on the line ceased, the Peacock stopped running. My fishing partner Ken Wellams and I realize that maybe we can salvage this situation. We take the line and begin to thread it thru the tip of the rod and back thru the guides. While trying to tie an arbor knot on the spool the fish feels a little pressure and surges… out goes the line thru the rod guides and off again. Blackie gets us over to the line again a second time and Ken picks it up and gently pulls in about 15’ of line as the guide moves the boat forward. Handing the line to me again, Ken puts a rag around his hand and wraps the line securely around his hand to theoretically fight the fish if it surges again. Blackie and I were able to get the line fed back thru the guides, thru the level wind eye of the reel and an arbor knot tied on the spool, we are suddenly back in business. I started cranking. Wellams and I were thinking this is going to be the first 30 lb Peacock Bass caught on the upper Rio Negro. The Peacock Bass on the end of the line weighted 15 lbs on the Boga when we landed it. It was about 10 minutes of shock, horror, thrill & excitement…it was wonderful!”
Rick Pope, founder Temple Fork Outfitters April, 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.