Forced, by us, to select his favourites from over 400 species he has caught on fly, here’s what Jeff Currier chose from South America:
“My first real trip to South America was to Venezuela in 1996. I went down there to catch Payara, aka Vampire Fish. By then I was so used to winging trips by myself through Central America that I thought I was just going to go to Venezuela and wing it again. I went with a friend who had never done a trip like that. The plan was to go down there, ride the busses into the jungle and stay in cheap places and hire Indians to take us out in their wooden canoes. Ironically, when we were on our flight from Atlanta to Caracas, a guy got on the plane with a peacock bass shirt. My friend remarked on the shirt, “Ah cool, peacock bass. We’re headed down to do some fishing too.”
“The guy stopped, asked us where we were fishing and when we told him we were going to wing it, he said, “You guys are going to die. I’m in seat 23A, when the plane takes off get your asses back here and come and talk to me.” It turned out, he owned a lodge that had been shut down four years earlier because Colombian guerillas stole their plane. The plane, carrying some doctors, landed and the guerillas came out of the jungle and had the pilot fly it with all the doctors back to Colombia where they disappeared for six months. The message from the guy in seat 23A – you don’t mess around in Venezuela. He was going back after four years to see if they had a lodge left. He ended up offering to take us down to the lodge to catch payara if we did some work for him. Our assignment was to drive supplies from Caracas to his lodge, which was a seven-day drive. What a wild experience. Sometimes weird things happen when you travel, you meet people and stuff just comes together if you have time, and we had a month. We got it done and caught our payaras, as well as peacocks, piranhas and all sorts of cool shit.”
For Jeff’s other favourite fish from oceans and regions across the globe, check out his story in issue 15 of The Mission.