This past week was really special for me, because I got to spend the entire week with one of all time favorite group of men, which were seven members of the based Mantech Corp. This group has been to HFC several times in the past, and each visit has been marked by numerous moments of some serious competitive discussions, hilarious comments, and up until this trip, predictable winners.
In the many emails I sent them in preparation for the trip, my main topic was the fact we were catching the fish in deeper than normal water along the river banks upriver from the camp, which was true. When they arrived, what they found was high winds blowing directly up the river, which meant we couldn't fish any of our prime spots due to high waves. Undeterred by this unusual phenomena of nature, the men all began working Woodchoppers and Super Spooks in the shallow water of the coves near the camp. Keeping in mind that for the past month we have been catching the big majority of our trophy fish in 10-15 ft of water, you can imagine how surprised my guides and I were to have huge fish blasting lures in less than 2 ft of water.
One reason for this unusual development was the secondary spawn we have in this area every September and October, but it usually occurs with the water rising. This year our rains stopped in late August, and the water level has been steadily falling 4" a day since. We are now at 12 ft low and going down, which means to us that this coming year we will be fishing the areas not fished since the year 2001, which is when the lake went down more than 90 feet! Does anyone remember the "Glory Hole" fishing area, because it appears this famous HFC fishing hole will come alive again in early 2010?
Well, the fun loving Mantech gang went after the fish in the shallows, and some experienced the thrill of victory, while others only the agony of defeat. When you hook a big peacock bass in a foot of water, and it can't dive for the protection of the depths, the only alternative is to hit afterburner and plow furiously across the flats in an effort to escape. This means of fighting causes one to rethink your fishing tactics. Where you would normally use a firm drag, a medium set drag in the flats is preferable, because straightened hooks and broken lines will quickly remind you to loosen off on the drag.
The Mantech Marauders were led by "El Jefe", Rick Urban, who had won big fish prize the last two trips to HFC, along with Fred Scruggs, Bruce Minger, Walter Ahern, Mike Friend, Jeff Naum, and last but defintely not least the former wild man himself, Larry Quijas. It was Larry, who while fishing early in the week with Rick, that caught the big fish of the week, which was a 15 lb beauty. Rick claims Larry is low down, fish stealing rascal that threw over and caught the big fish that he had just raised but failed to get hooked up with. Larry, on the other hand, claims it was superior skill and knowledge that triumphed that day. I referred to Larry as the former wild man, because someone has been feeding that man Prozac or something, since the Larry that showed up this trip was a complete opposite from the Larry I knew and enjoyed in the past. I personally think it was Walter that has caused this transformation in Larry. I have included a photo of Rick begrudgingly presenting Larry with his prize money for having landed the big peacock bass of the trip.
The entire group managed to land one 15 lbs, one 14 lbs, three 13 lbs, three 12 lbs, three 12 lbs, and eight 10 lbs for a grand total of nineteen peacock bass over 10 lbs. The unfortunate part of the week was the fact they hooked, fought, and then lost that many or more for various reasons. Had it not been for the 20-25 mph winds, this group would have done much better. Mike Friend won the money for big payara landed with a 15 lb string stretcher. The prime lures were the 3/4 oz Woodchopper Peacock Bass Specials with double blades, Pavon Props 6" or 7" fire-tiger patterned bait, Super Spooks in a variety of colors, and the ever faithful white, 1/2 oz spinnerbaits with gold willow leaf blades.
I think I am safe in saying that for the next year Mike Friend will be having recurring nightmares about the 20 lb+ peacock bass he fought for over five minutes, got near the boat twice so that everyone could get a good look at it's monstrous size, and then see it pull free at the end and swim away. If I am not mistaken, Rick Urban suffered the same fate on another monster size fish later in the week.
As I said earlier in the report, our water level is in a steady fall, and I see very little chance of this changing until next rainy season in June of 2010. The falling water levels will force the fish that are currently living upriver to migrate back down near the HFC headquarters camp. It sure makes it easy on the fishermen to be able to go less than fifteen minutes from the camp to make their fishing dreams come true. No matter where they go, our experienced guides at HFC know where the fish will be depending on where the water level is at the time of your trip, so don't worry about that.
Friends, we have openings available over the next few months, which is our prime fishing season, so don't miss out on your chance to make your fishing dreams come true. Be you a novice or expert fisherman, our guides will make sure they adapt the fishing to match your abilities, which translates into a great fishing experience for all. Just drop Al Schaefer <firstname.lastname@example.org> an email or give them a call to help set up a trip for you and your friends or family.
Now that everyone is finished with family vacations it is time to come fishing. First, because you now need some "ME" time. Secondly, because the fish are schooled up and feeding in the shallows, which means big fish on topwater baits. Thirdly, because if you don't come fishing, I won't be here any longer.
The current water level in Lake Guri is 12 feet low and falling 4 inches a day. When the level reaches 20 feet low, the daily fall of water will increase dramatically with strong current in the rivers. This sounds bad, but it actually means some great fishing for our customers. The shallow flats near the river channels will be packed with bait fish looking for protection, and the big peacock bass will likewise be there in large schools gorging themselves on the abundance of food.
Veteran HFC anglers will recall fishing "The Glory Hole" area near our camp, and in January this year that area will be fishable once again. In the years 2000, 2001, and 2002, HFC clients boated in excess of 1500 peacock bass over 10 lbs from this special place. This in itself sounds great, but it becomes even more impressive when you consider the Glory Hole area is only 50 yds wide and 200 yds long. It was in this area in 2002 that while fishing with a silly old fart named Raymond Thompson that I had my most productive half day of fishing on Lake Guri when I boated 22 peacock bass from 10-15 lbs in the morning session only. Even more impressive was the fact I was only fishing with my now famous Thruster Tail bait, which is a knockoff of a Little George. During that morning session, my boat pulled over to talk with Randy Barnard and his son, Michael, and I told Randy he was wasting his time casting out with his Woodchopper bait, because the fish were right under his boat. To prove my point I proceeded to hook and land a 10 lb and 11 lb fish on consecutive flips from right under their boat (Randy just loves it when I tell this story). The "Glory Hole" is just one of many fantastic fishing spots that are going to be fishable very soon, and all are within ten minutes from the camp.
Just so you know that it is not necessary to wait for the glory hole to materialize before you can have good fishing, just listen to what two men that just left HFC did in waters near the camp with topwater baits. Dr. Aldo Stamm from Sao Paulo, Brazil and Miguel Emmanuelli from Caracas, Venezuela spent two days having a great time wrestling big peacock bass they found feeding in two feet of water less than ten minutes from the camp. Using Chug bugs, woodchoppers, and Super Spooks, these men got to experience that special thrill of having huge peacock bass blast into their baits. Some of these battles had happy endings, while others caused severe depression.
Aldo told me he wished to file a complaint against his partner, Miguel, because everytime he raised a big fish, Miguel would immediately cast to the spot and hook the big rascal. Aldo told me that this didn't happen just once, but five times. When questioned on this subject, Miguel merely said that if Aldo wanted the fish, he should have hooked it the first time it hit. I foresee a grudge match looming on the horizon with these two. In two days of fishing, the two of them landed a 14 lb, 13 lb, a 11 lb, six 10 lbs, and eleven 8-9 lbs. They both had the unfortunate bad luck of hooking up with monster size fish, only to have the fish escape before reaching the net. Aldo had two of these monsters in one morning session.
While watching Aldo and Miguel fish their last morning session, I was amazed to see giant peacock bass blasting bait fish in less than six inches of water in the back of the cove. What makes seeing things like this tough on my clients is the fact that even with the guide out of the boat and pushing them toward the fish, the boat could not reach the area. Friends, I'm talking about fish that were 'HUGE'. When Aldo and Miguel left to try another area, I had Santos, my guide that day, get us as close as possible to these fish so that I could launch several long casts. Even throwing as far as I could, which is quite far, I was still ten yards short of the feeding monsters. FRUSTRATING!!!
Since we only accept a maximum of eight anglers at a time at HFC, we fill up quickly during the months of November through March. Right now I still have prime dates available, but don't wait too long to get yours confirmed. Call Al Schaefer at South Fishing in Miami with your dates. With the fishing forecast looking excellent for this season, you won't want to miss your chance.