A one-of-a-kind Dorado fishing experience in the Amazonian frontier
The Tsimane Lodges are located in a National Park and an Indigenous Territory named TIPNIS, within the regions of Beni and Cochabamba. It is part of the Vilcabamba – Amboró Conservation Corridor, in the Sub-Andean strip of the tropical Andes between Peru and Bolivia.
Small crystal clear mountain rivers stocked with surprisingly big fish. Tsimane’s waters allow us to fish wading, sight casting, and using fine fly-fishing techniques, something pretty unusual in the jungle environment. Plus, the interaction with the native’s culture and the beautiful landscape create a whole experience that will surely become one of your lifetime unforgettable journeys.
The lodge’s well planned schedule avoids anglers go to the same fishing beats during their days there. Anglers not only experience walking through a mountainous rainforest in virgin status but also fish in a wide variety of waters which are home to amazing fish species and require different fishing techniques. Regarding freshwater dorados, we can find scary trophies lying lonely in mountain streams pocket water, as well as fierce shoals feeding frenzy. Pirapitingas (pacues) and yatoranas behave alike.
This is one of the main rivers of Tipnis and the most important tributary of the Isiboro River, which is the Madeira River’s Amazon basin and the one with the widest biodiversity in the world. This river is born in the confluence of the Nutusama and Cascarrillas streams. Along with its first sectors, this river goes from north to south; moreover, between the Mosetenes Range and the Eva Eva Mountain Range it is wedged among peaks that range from 900 to 2,000 meters above sea level. The river length is 497 km until its mouth is reached in the Isiboro River.
Within Tsimane territory, the Secure River is divided into 3 sectors: two where fishing activities are carried out from Secure Lodge (high and medium sectors) and one sector that is accessible from Pluma Lodge (Low Secure).
The upper Secure River
This is the sector of the Secure River that is found upstream from Secure Lodge. Here is the point where an extremely beautiful and crystal clear water river is found. The fact that the river is wedged among mountains allows anglers to have extremely close and exciting contact with the jungle. The means of transportation are hand-made Chiman wood dugout canoes (coambas) powered by pushing poles or engines. The same depends on the sector of the river, the season and the level of water. As the river closes, it is observed that same becomes narrower and narrower in a system of short runs and deep slow water pools. Fishing is carried out walking and wading upstream, going deep into the mountainous yunga and observing carefully to find fish as if one were hunting.
After walking half a day or a few hours navigating upstream, the Out camp (or Minilodge), where one can have access to various smaller tributaries, is reached. Depending on the season, those small mountain rivers can grant us exceptional sight casting opportunities, especially at the mid/end of the season when more dorados arrive due to the spring spawning run. There we will experience extremely fine Dorado fishing techniques. Some of the species are surprisingly huge trophies that weigh more than 20 pounds. There are also a lot of yatoranas and the evasive Salminus Hilarii which are excellent species for dry fly-fishing and light equipment.
Upstream of Mini Lodge the Secure River becomes even smaller and very rugged. In such place, one can be in the nirvana of piraptinga fishing activity. Those species can be found eating fruits or leaves in slow and deep waters. Those amazing trophies can be caught using big dry flies, fruit imitations, or rabbit/marabou streamers. Tricking such species is not easy and once you hook them, they fight a lot to release themself. Here a lot of anglers prefer catching pirapitingas rather than dorados.
Those anglers that are fit and are able to walk upstream along with sectors that cannot be reached by canoes, will find the wildest waters in Tsimane. In such place, large schools of pirapitingas, yatoranas, and dorados are quiet and live in harmony as if they were in a big fish tank. If one swims near the bottom of the river, it is possible to observe very large catfish such as moturos and surubies (South American freshwater catfish) whose size is really incredible. Fishing in this place is a real-life experience.
The middle Secure River
This sector goes from Lodge Secure to the confluence of the Aguas Negras stream. Fishing activities are carried out wading downstream. The means of transportation are dugout canoes or engine-powered canoes. In this place, the Secure River is shallow, open, and similar to rivers of plain regions. The dorados are the undisputed kings. The dominating shapes are long runs. Its water gradually becomes stained colored due to the fact that its tributaries sweep sediments from the high plateau.
More and more logs and fallen trees are found in the typical stone structure of the Secure River (boxes, stones and boulders). Such logs and trees are the lying points for a large number of dorados. “Cachuelas” is a classic fishing area where rocky faults cross the river resulting in excellent fast water lying points. The high number of sabalos (the main shad of Tsimane waters) at Mid-Secure sectors is the reason for having such a relevant population of dorados. Such fish, which can be found alone or in schools, are active most of the day and are always hunting their prey. Undoubtedly, this sector of the river offers the best quantity and average of caught fish in Secure Lodge. Due to the fact that water is darker and there is more competition to find food, this is an easier region to fish and anglers can catch. Besides, this region is the most stable all season long.
Here the strategies are basically three: To prospect for fish in runs, to do precise casts on the coastal logs or to sight cast into feeding frenzies. Fly fishing can become very aggressive and violent. The medium sector of the Secure River is the ideal counterpoint to the high sector where fishing is more technical and demanding.
Pluma Lodge waters
Accommodation is offered only at the lodge and there is access to three rivers that are diametrically different. Its wide variety of waters and pools allow groups not to repeat beats during their 3 day stay. In this place the largest number of dorados in Tsimane can be found. They can be caught in a wide variety of waters and using different techniques. Near those places, there are magnificent fishing spots for piratingas, yatoranas and catfishes such as tiger surubies (South American striped catfish) and paletas.
It is a crystal clear water medium size freestone river whose structure is immensely rich and beautiful. The fact that it runs from south to north and parallel to the Mosetenes Mountain Range (without going deep into the mountains) makes such a river wider and is more open. This river hardly wedges; moreover, it is easy to wade there due to its wide banks composed of round-shaped gravel and rock beds. Just the highest sectors of the river, which can be reached after spending several days walking, run tightly. This river is home of 4 main species in Tsimane: Dorado, pirapitinga, yatorana and surubi. Whereas omnivorous species such as yatoranas and pirapitingas are more and more frequent in the high sectors, dorados are the dominant kings of the low sector.
In order to keep the Pluma River as untouchable and virgin as it is possible fishing activities cannot be done by engine-powered transportation, except for a small sector where this river joins the Secure one.
Upper Pluma River
This sector is upstream from the place where such a river joins the Itirizama River. Its structure is similar to a trout freestone river: full of stones, shallow runs, boulders, well-defined deep pools and clear water. In this sector fishing activities are done walking and wading upstream and using a Chiman canoe (no engine). The same is very useful to come back to the Lodge and carry fishing gear. The high sector of the Pluma River is home of a large number of dorados that are caught by sight casting using surface flies such as Titanic Slider, Poppers, Divers or using mice imitations (an exclusive bite for Salminus). In this place the upper we go, the larger number of pirapitingas and bigger yatoranas we find. The high sector of the Pluma has the type of water in Tsimane that gives anglers more chances to get Grand Slam or Super Gland Slam. Another species that can be found is paleta, an extremely beautiful catfish. Catching said species using fly fishing techniques is such a big event. Depending on the season, the number of Dorado trophies can be very large. This experience is even more exciting when anglers fish in shallow and extraordinarily beautiful waters.
Pluma river and Secure river junction
This is the sector that goes from the confluence with the Pluma River to Oromomo community. Here the Secure River is clearly similar to a river of a plain region. Its bottom has fine sediment and there are a lot of sunken logs on its banks. Here we will find Coruya which is one of the most active fishing beats in Tsimane due to the large number and the size of dorados. Although engine-powered canoes (coambas) are the means of transportation, the arrival at the fishing points is quietly on foot or by push poling canoes (a method that Chimanes guides manage skillfully). The first kilometers downstream the Pluma River’s mouth are ideal to drift in the canoe and fish near the sunken logs on the river bank.
At midway downstream from Pluma mouth, the Delta region is reached. This is a sector where the river does not slope down and it is widened so as to form several branches and islands. Such a place is ideal to have lunch and wade at large sandy areas. When sabalos arrive, the delta turns into a Roman Colosseum where dorados are always hunting. The competition to get food makes fish extremely aggressive to the extent that cannibalism is a very common scene. Here it is very common to use surface flies such as Poppers, Pole Dancer or Titanic Sliders.
After the Delta region and traveling downstream Coruya’s is reached. There the river has limestone cliffs and dozens of sunk logs are everywhere. On those turbulent waters, there are probably Tsimane’s most powerful fish, so we recommend using reinforced equipment: (number 9 or 10), 40-pound tippet.
Its water level is similar to the high sector of the Pluma River; however, the Itirizama, which is considered by many anglers “the jewel in the crown” in Tsimane, has extremely different features. This is due to the fact that it runs from west to east through rugged valleys that turns it into a typical mountain stream with a lot of runs, rapids, waterfalls, and big boulders. Very deep pools are found among those geographical features and they are generally on exposed stone slopes. Undoubtedly, this is the river that offers the hardest walks so it is recommended to be in good physical conditions. Its water is the coldest and the most transparent in Tsimane so fishing is extremely skillful. The Itirizama is a fishery where one cannot get a large number of fish but high-quality ones.
This sector has a good average of dorados. In fact, some of them are really huge but tricking them can be (at certain moments) extremely demanding. Fish is caught especially by sight casting or nymphing techniques but using streamers in pocket waters. Another technique is to attract them using big dry flies, such as big sliders, Ututus, or Poppers, fished dead drift (or using subtle movements) in white waters: To see a 20 pound dorado and take it as gently as a trout eating a may fly makes our blood runs cold. If we walk about three hours from the Lodge, we reach the pools that have a large number of big pirapitingas which are found in disturbing schools. Such fish is caught using fruits imitations, streamers and big dry flies.
Agua Negra River
The Agua Negra River is an important tributary of the Sécure River. This is a stream of clear, shallow waters that run from East to West and offers few wading difficulties.
The Lower Agua Negra sector has features similar to a flood plain river (low gradient) but its water is clear and runs slowly. The river meanders through river valley with numerous sandy beaches, deep runs and cover to hold strong populations of dorado and yatoranas. The latter can be tempted using lightweight fly rods, dry flies and/or small streamers. The lower Agua Negra is the perfect spot to sight-cast to dorado during feeding frenzy activity – adrenaline infused angling moment never forgotten.
The high sector of the Agua Negra River is one of Tsimane’s jewels due to its excellent number of dorados, pacues and surubíes. This is an ideal place for those anglers that want to sight-cast due to the clear shallow waters and rocky bottom which allows an easy sight of the fish. Fishing in this section of the Agua Negra is done by walking upstream and sight fishing in low waters and prospecting for fish in runs and deep pools. To be successful on these waters you must use a floating line, long leaders and delicate presentation.
The Chimoro stream is a little water stream that comes down form the same mountain range as Agua Negra river. This is a little crystal clear stream that holds a large population of average size dorados (up to 15 pounds) and a great deal of yatoranas. Its main characteristic is the chance to perform a very entertaining fishing with light gear (rod #5), and small flies and even dry flies to catch yatoranas of a good size. Moreover, a 12-pound Dorado in such a
small stream like Chimoro with a rod #5 turns out to be an unforgettable experience.
EXPECTED WEATHER AND CLOTHING
Even when it is winter here the weather can be is considerably hot. During the day typical temperature ranges from 20ºC to 35 ºC. It’s not as the Brazilian Amazon since it’s at a much higher altitude. This also means quite cool nights and mornings when and a fleece might be needed.
Occasional short and strong rains can be expected that usually come together south wind and a fast descent in the temperature. Considering that you will be wet wading 99% of the time, anglers should carry a dry bag with insulation underwear, an extra shirt, a polar-tech fleece, and light gore-tex rain jackets and pants. Always.
All visitors to Bolivia should carry Yellow Fever Vaccine certification. Passport valid for at least six months from the date of proposed entry into Bolivia is required to enter and depart Bolivia. For most European countries no visa is required.
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