Golden Dorado in Bolivia

Roving club member Mike Siegman and I just got back from a week’s fishing for Golden Dorado in Bolivia at the Tsimane Pluma Lodge. Traveling involves flying down to Santa Cruz, where you are met by a Tsimane representative, overnighting in a very nice hotel and then taking an early morning light aircraft flight two hours over the jungle to get to the Tsimane village. From there its a 90min boat ride up the Secure and then Pluma rivers to the lodge. The lodge is very nice considering its remote location and that everything to build and run the lodge had to be flown in and then boated up river. Food was excellent all round. The fishing is run on a beat system, with a maximum of 8 anglers per week rotating through the 4 regular beats in pairs, with alternate options depending upon weather and flows for those willing to put in a bit of a walk. The Secure river sections are generally wider, deeper and slower moving with sandy banks and off colored water, but they hold the bigger run of fish, particularly at the confluence of the Secure and Pluma rivers. The lower Pluma is shallower and clearer than the secure but still a broad river. The upper Pluma is clear and features lots of pocket water in the rapids and long deep pools and glides. The Iritizama is crystal clear and has some amazing pocket water and deep pool fishing and is the classic image of fishing in this area. Fishing the Secure and lower Pluma uses dugout canoe boats with motors to transfer between fishing areas and most of the fishing is done by wading with some fishing from the boat too. The upper Pluma and Iritizama are classic hike and fish waters. There are three main species targeted – dorado, pacu and yatorana.

The dorado and pacu fishing is done with 9wt gear and generally floating lines and big flies. Yatorana can be targeted with smaller gear but are less wide spread. There can be a lot of blind casting involved if the rivers are colored but by far the best experience is walking the upper Pluma and Iritizama and sight casting to dorado holding in pocket water or patrolling pools or pacu the deeper pools. its not easy fishing – the dorado may be predators but they will drift off and refuse to feed if the first cast is not in the right place. Same with the pacu who seem to only eat if the fly is landed on their nose. The real icing on the cake comes when you walk up on a dorado feeding frenzy where schools of large dorado are busting the sabalo bait fish in the shallows and can be attacking them in inches of water with the backs showing. Chucking a popper into the exploding water was some seriously good fun!

There are also some big catfish in the rivers that occasionally hit flies. The fishing varied a lot and some days we got skunked, other days we did well landing 20 fish between us in day. I hooked and lost my grande dorado, Mike being the lucky b$#%^#d he is landed two over 25lbs in the week. I got a nice pacu that was mad enough to eat a fly meant for GT and both of us caught yatorana. The pacu are by far the hardest fighters of the three. All the guides were great – with each pair of anglers being assigned one english speaking guide (all Argentinian) each day and two local native boatmen. The bugs are generally not a big problem except for the sand flies and the wildlife is amazing – macaws everywhere, lots of butterflies, you can hear howler monkeys calling and find jaguar and caiman tracks on the river banks. Our trip back was eventful as we made it out of the jungle moments before some serious rain hit and flooded the grass runway. Unfortunately our bags were not so lucky and are still on the way back to the US at the moment! All around amazing trip and if anyone wants further details feel free to reach out.

Cheers Matt (832 444 4206)

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