NUT, FRUIT AND FLOWER FORAGING FISH OF THE AMAZON
There are literally hundreds of unusual and crazy fish species throughout the freshwater systems of the Amazon Basin that live primarily on nuts, fruits, flowers, pollen, grasses, seeds and weeds in the high water period and then turn piscivorous in the low season. Our main target species can be narrowed down to a few only such as Tambaqui, Pirapitinga or Morocoto, Pacu and Matrinchá. All these fish have unbelievably strong crushing jaws needed to break open even the strongest of nuts and shells.
Tambaqui can grow into huge fish over 80 lbs and sometimes only 80-100lb line and a strong rod will suffice to land these incredibly strong beasts. They love quiet flooded jungle and floodplains and wait under trees for the hardest of nuts to fall where they crush them with ease in their extra strong jaws. They have strong crushing teeth that look uncannily like horses’ teeth! Local native Indians catch these big fish with strong poles, twine and a big hook with a large nut. They sweep the nut over their heads like a whip making a ‘plopping’ sound as it lands, like the nut is falling from a tree, and usually a Tambaqui will hit it instantly!
Pirapitinga or Morocoto are close relatives to Tambaqui that grow to over 50lbs and are equally brutal in their fighting skills. In flooded periods they feed pretty much like Tambaqui but in low water they prefer faster currents and turn into pack killers searching out small baitfish. They will strike at lures and flies with abandon and crush flat even the strongest of treble hooks!
There are many species of Pacu from 50lbs downwards to even the tiny few grams, but we tend to aim for just a few main species. My three favourites are Silver Pacu in the Northern Amazon, Pacu Borracha in the Southern Amazon and the Red Pacu of the Essequibo River in Guyana. All can be caught on nuts and fruits, with the last two particularly on weeds from the rocks. The weed is tied onto the hook by thin elastic thread and drifted down the fast current near where it grows on the rocks and hold onto your hat! Great sport!! In the dry season the larger Pacu tend to take minnow baits when their natural food sources are scarce and even the weeds are bare.
Matrinchá are beautiful sport fish and really hard fighters. While they also have nut and fruit eating-adapted teeth similar to the Tambaqui, Pirapitinga, Pacu etc, they are great surface lure strikers and good sport on top. They love hiding under trees in the shade and will streak out and attack small spooks, poppers, minnow and jerk baits, wobblers, spoons, flies and jigs and launch themselves out the water like mini Tarpon! Although only reaching a max. 10-11lbs they are a favourite Brazilian sport fish and pretty tough to land as you need small lures to catch these sometimes big fish, so hooks tend to straighten out easily.