Tag Archives: patagonia

Guyana – Paradise for the Adventurous Angler

Guyana – An Adventurous Angler’s Paradise

Our Guyana trip was a resounding success! It’s no secret – we love to fish and think about it incessantly. We are fortunate to live and guide in a fishery that keeps us engaged year-round and we love advocating for it every chance we get. Although we love our home waters here in Buffalo Niagara, we still have a wanderlust that pushes us to explore new places, learn new tactics, catch new species, and meet new people equally interested in these things. When the opportunity to fish in Guyana for huge dinosaurs and crazy, toothy predators came up via Larry Jones of Guyana Eco Fishing and Adventures  – it got our attention.

This will not be a “how to” article. I won’t discuss tactics and techniques. I won’t discuss exactly where we went other than it was in Guyana. If you want to talk about any of those details or something technical about our adventure, contact me directly and I’ll talk your ears off. This article WILL get to the meat of what everyone wants to see anyway – the fish we caught.

The Players

Before I get into the fishing, I think it’s important to give a quick intro to our team for a couple reasons:
1. We come from various backgrounds
2. None of us are rich or rolling in dough – we’re blue collar kind of dudes who just like to fish
3. We have different preferences in angling techniques – all of which were applicable in Guyana

Here it goes:

Nate Carr

you can read his bio by clicking here. One thing that’s important to know about Nate is that he’s married and has 2 young boys at home (one of which was born just prior to departure – a testament to his wife’s patience with his passion). The other attribute you should know is that he’s a fly fishing purist. He doesn’t judge those that use other techniques, he just knows what he likes and sticks to it.

Ryan Shea (me)

my bio is here. I have a beautiful wife and young daughter that have dealt with numerous deployments and long fishing trips throughout our life together. They are immensely supportive of my passion and offered no resistance to my taking this trip – I’ve been in riskier situations before. I prefer fly fishing when it’s reasonable to go that route but I’m a “right gear for the right conditions” kind of angler. As a charter captain and guide of all angling methods for all experience levels, I want to be good a just about every angling technique so I experiment with everything.

Chuck Yauch

Chuck is almost married and kids aren’t on the near term horizon. His better half fully supports his fishing habits but was a bit freaked out about him taking this trip. When he was in the Navy, he spent plenty of time away from his fiancé so separation wasn’t a foreign concept. However, in recent past, he hasn’t spent more than a week or so away from home so the prospect of going on a 2 week trip in the Guyanese jungle, completely out of contact with the outside world was a bit mind stressful. Chuck’s angling preferences are similar to mine – right rear at the right time. The big difference between us is that I’ll stubbornly throw flies a bit longer than he will.

Mike Trifletti

Mike has a better half too as well as young children at home. He had never spent more than a couple days away from them so separation was a bit concerning/generated a little anxiety leading up to the trip. Other than Canada (which isn’t really a foreign country to those of us who live on the border), he has never ventured out of the country. His angling preferences are like Chuck. Both can cast a fly well but the priority is feeling the tug at the end of the line by any means. Catching fish is always better than not.

What we all have in common is a desire to catch fish whenever we can, wherever we can. We also have immensely supportive families that support our passion. None of us had a chunk of money laying around to go to Guyana so we had to make it a priority and saved for it. In the end – it all came together perfectly.

The Guyana Program

I won’t get too detailed here except to say that it was 2 weeks long on a single river system and we didn’t even scratch the surface. We spent the first week pursuing arapaima and the second week a few hours upstream fishing rapids and fast moving water for the rest of the game species. Bottom line, the program gave us opportunities to catch nearly every game species on that river and we were able to do so.

Logistics on the Guyana Trip

Travel: As I mentioned in the introduction, this won’t be a kiss and tell about how we pulled all this together. Just know we had to travel via multiple airlines, insane bus rides down jungle and savannah trails, and scenic boat rides navigating numerous obstacles just to get to our first camp. The journey getting there took more than a day.

Equipment

We used fly and conventional tackle. Fly rods from 12 wts to 8 wts with matching intermediate lines were key. A big thank you goes out to Temple Fork Outfitters for providing us the rods and Cortland Lines for providing us with the fly line. Conventional tackle ranged from spinning and casting set-ups on medium action to heavy action rods. Other gear like clothing, toiletry items, sleeping bags, etc. were all packable in backpacks we could carry on to the plane.

Subsistence

We could’ve subsisted on “American” food that Larry shipped down there in advance but we opted out of that option as often as possible. We wanted to live as the Amerindians live – off the land. Our Amerindian guides enabled that aim and then some. We harvested just the right amount of fish to fill our bellies and released the rest. We also hunted for them with bow and arrow. Bottom line, we always ate well and what we ate was wild. All of us came home leaner and stronger than when we arrived.

The Fish of Guyana

You’ve heard me boast about the diversity of the Buffalo Niagara fishery nearly every time I post an article. I hate to say it but Guyana has us beat (not by much though). The main appeal is how exotic/foreign the fish of Guyana are compared to anything we see here in North America. They are bigger, more powerful, completely unpressured, extremely predatory, and many have teeth and color patterns that are impressive by global standards. However, what became clear to all of us is that all these fish behave similar to many species we have in North America. What’s more – all tackle types proved effective.

Arapaima

Touted as the world’s largest, scaled fish, the arapaima is the prize game species of Guyana. Simply put, they are massive, somewhat intimidating, and stealthy predators that are tough to catch. They breathe air by poking their heads out of the water and that’s when you get your shot. Angling for them takes an immense amount of stealth, patience (read enduring a lot of frustration), and precision casting. When you hook up with one, all that anxiety that accompanied your wait melts away. These massive beasts are so powerful they tow your boat around and when they jump completely out of the water, it will scare the hell out of you. When you finally get to hold one, it’s tough to describe. You’re holding on to a multi-hundred pound dinosaur that with a quick head shake can knock you on your ass – and they did just that.

Peacock Bass

These aren’t the monster peacocks characteristic of the Amazon. The biggest ones we caught were in the 6-7 lb range. However, they are insanely powerful and don’t quit when at the end of the line. They are definitely the most beautiful of the species and were our main food source as we found them nearly everywhere we fished. I would compare their willingness to eat and strong fight to a huge smallmouth bass. Both require similar tactics to catch as well.

 

Payara

Aptly nicknamed the vampire fish, these are by far the toothiest predators in that system. They live in and around rapids and behave a lot like cohos or steelhead. They smash baits, fight hard, get airborne quick and often, and take advantage of the fast water they inhabit. Fishing for these beauties always had an incredibly beautiful backdrop of big boulders and rushing water. Except for the baits/flies used and how visual the takes often were – payara fishing reminded me of fishing for steel in the lower Niagara River.

Piranha

Everybody has heard of these toothy predators and images of movies from the 80s where they tear up people and fly around admittedly clouded our impression of them. After a couple days in the jungle, we swam and bathed in the same waters as the piranha and never had a negative encounter. However, these guys took a toll on our flies and baits. Their jaws are some of the most powerful in nature and anglers need to be mindful of that – both in your rigs and when handling the fish. They hit like freight trains and fight way above their weight class. Picture fighting a voracious bluegill except 5-10x the size. Good times!

Pacu

A relative of the piranha, these fish fight just as hard but are a bit more difficult to catch. Touted as vegetarians by some, we found out (accidentally) that they eat prey species just as readily. Same general commentary as the piranha except these fish are by far the best tasting fish any of us had ever consumed.

Swordfish

No relation to the saltwater fish with the same name, we found these fish all over the river system. They always seemed eager to smash topwater baits/flies. We caught a ton of them and they became a silent favorite as when action got slow – a sword always showed itself. Think of them like a gar – they hit hard, fight well, and grow reasonably large – enough to impress.

Arowana

These fish did a great job of eluding us. Only one came to hand the whole trip but we saw many more. The water was unseasonably high when we were there so most of the fish were deep in the trees and inaccessible. They behave like beast trout – they like moving water, sipping bugs off the surface, and holding in pockets on sand flats. Fishing for them required stealth and precision casting – I hooked 2 and both came unbuttoned right away but Mike was lucky enough to get his in a pocket in some dense timber.

Redtail Catfish

I never took catfishing seriously before this trip.  It was a dark night and we were all deep into a 1.75 of rum when Chuck first hooked into one and we all got to see it kick his ass almost pulling him into the water.  These fish are insanely strong.  By far the strongest fish i have ever fought to include the arapaima.  I broke a bait casting rod designed  for fighting large saltwater fish trying to land mine.  I don’t know the final tally on how many we hooked but it was over 15 and we only landed a few if that puts things inter perspective.  We will have to really up our game the next time.

“Hori?”

I don’t know the proper spelling of these little guys but this is how it sounded when the natives identified them to us. We caught a ton of them on the ponds and still water areas. They love timber and shadows and if anything entered their zone, they attacked. From the looks of them, they appear to be miniature relatives of the wolf fish. They helped break up long days on the ponds pursuing arapaima.

Other Wildlife to Enjoy

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed reading this and seeing what we were able to pull off. None of this would have been possible without Guyana Eco Fishing and Adventure Tours. It was 2 weeks of angling heaven. No contact with the outside world, living life simply, and hanging with friends – old and new. We are looking forward to hosting trips there next year. Please don’t hesitate to call us for details or to talk shop. At a minimum – I hope this inspired you to think differently about what kind of adventures you can pursue if you just make the commitment to do so. Tight lines!

P.S. 2 weeks without any contact with the outside world was incredibly liberating. What’s more – we didn’t even touch our cell phones. That really put things into perspective and allowed us to be in the moment like we were kids again.  Here are some pics showing that kinda fun

 

Smallmouth Bass on Midwest Waters: Re-Discover Your Region #7

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass on Midwest Waters: Re-Discover Your Region #7

If you’ve been watching our videos, you likely picked up on a theme – I like fishing for wild fish and go out of my way to pursue them. If the species is native to the drainage – that’s even better. From where we live here in Buffalo, NY to the western edges of the Midwest, one predator dominates the warm water rivers through numbers and voracious feeding habits. That fish is the smallmouth bass. (Note: read that statement again, carefully before you attack me with comments like, “Dude, what the F&*K are you taking about? Musky are the king!” Again, re-read the claim.)

Why Smalljaws?

Smallmouth Bass, smallies, smalljaws, etc. are my favorite fish. Many people ask me why I travel all over the place to catch them when huge specimens are in my backyard in big numbers. Well…I love these fish – perhaps irrationally – but that’s a sure sign that passion is involved. They look a little different everywhere I go. Every drainage where smallmouth bass has distinct characteristics. Topography, gradient, substrate, forage base, biomass, the list goes on. All these variances lead to distinguishable angling tactics. My hope is that learning some of them well help make me a better angler.

Love these guys! Everywhere I find them
Love that Dorsal Pop!
What Sets the Profession of Guiding Apart

On the journey home from every fishing trip, I tend to reflect on what just transpired over the past couple days. When I think about it, what ends up sticking with me the most are the relationships that are built through time on the water. Guiding is the only profession I can think of that puts a group of complete strangers together in an intimate setting, with little to no escape options, for an entire day. That’s kind of daunting when you think about it. However, in my experience, it rarely works out poorly.

Why Midwest Waters Angling Company?

Now, Mike Allen and Kurt Nelson were not complete strangers to me. I met them briefly at the 2016 Hardly Strictly Musky tournament. We didn’t hang out or anything – just said what’s up and went about our way. Shortly after that, I began following Mike and Kurt’s guide service, Midwest Waters Angling Company, via their social media outlets. I saw that they were catching smalljaws on small rivers and many of them were big. I also noticed that they were based in Illinois – near Chicago. Since it’s a personal goal to catch a fish in all 50 states on the fly and IL didn’t have a chalk mark next to it – I had to go.  Kurt and Mike did not disappoint!

Gar on the Fly – Sick!
We were only an hour away from this – downtown Chicago
Cheers to Midwest Waters and Another Good Shoot
Enjoy the Video and Please Share!

I’ll let the video speak for itself. Just know before clicking that there will be plenty of fish porn and amazing scenery. However, take note of the dialogue and the personalities at play. That’s the undercurrent of every one of our videos and Midwest Water Angling Company is no different.  They have their own brand – playful and professional.  Entertainers when the action is slow and laser focused when the action is hot.  Passionate through and through. Enjoy!

Big Thank You Goes out to

Colton Wright – for producing this.  Even though it took forever!

Kurt Nelson and Mike Allen (http://www.midwestwaters.com) – for hosting us and being professionals.  Click their names to go to their site.  Here are their social media outlets:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MWatersanglingco/
Instagram: @Midwest_waters_angling_co

Mike Davis – I’m not saying you’re the best oarsman out there but…

Penrose Brewing – (http://penrosebrewing.com/)for hosting us

Disclaimer:

Because we’ve completed 8, Re-Discover Your Region Episodes, more and more people are getting exposed to our content and the response seems to be positive. A few people have asked me how we choose who we will feature or where we are going to go. It’s not a science or anything but it needs to be some combination of these factors:

1. We know you, enjoy spending time with you, respect your knowledge, and believe we have much to learn from you.
2. You’re a new guide, like us, and are going through the pains of starting your business and trying to break into this small industry.
3. We’ve never been to your state and want to chalk it up (of course you have to have some sort of portfolio that leads us to believe you know your fishery and can put us on fish)

Look at who we’ve featured so far and who’s on the docket for the rest of the year (Chris Willen and a musky collabo we’re developing) – I think you’ll see every episode fits at least one of these criteria.
If you’re interested in a collabo, don’t hesitate to contact us. Click here to see all the places we’ve been. If there’s a gap, help us fill it!

Penrose Brewing – (http://penrosebrewing.com/)for hosting us

Ready to Fish?

Book a Trip

[email protected]
1 (716) 704-5144

Contact Us