Colombian Bam Bam!

Fallon resident Denis Isbister shows off an 18-pound peacock bass during a fishing trip in Colombia in March.

Fallon resident Denis Isbister shows off an 18-pound peacock bass during a fishing trip in Colombia in March.

Have you ever bathed under a full moon in a piranha infested river where you have to shuffle your feet along in the sand to move the stingrays out of your way? Well, now I have and it was a pretty amazing experience.

When I mention to people that we are going to the country of Colombia to film a fishing show, there is usually a funny stare, a slight pause and then comments or questions. A couple of my personal favorites: “man hope you don’t get kidnapped by drug lords” and “will you see the cocaine runners?”

The stigma and legacy that Pablo Escobar left behind is nothing short of impressive, but the fact of the matter is today it is a very safe and tourist friendly country. With our extensive travel through the mountain jungles of the Andes and the desolate savanna’s of eastern Colombia, we ran into a lot of different people in many different situations and this sort of reputation could not be farther from the truth.

Our second week found us on plane out of Bogota to the small town of Puerto Carreno on the border of Venezuela. From here, it was a short four hour drive through the savanna, across the Bita River on a ferry and then finally up a river in a small boat to our camp the Tomo River.

This is a remote tent camp setup owned and operated by national Taekwondo champion Oskar Posada for about three months out of the year. The first couple of days found us throwing giant top water baits called “Timber Turbine’s” around the large lagoons where these big peacock bass frequent.

The first day we landed an impressive 14-pound fish along with a handful of smaller peacocks getting the trip started right. On Day 3, we made an impressive journey upriver about two hours where we found ourselves in one of the largest lagoons we had been in yet.

As we made our way around the corner of the first bay entering the second, I made a monster cast that laid gently on the bank, so I could pull it off without making a splash (actually the cast got away from me but it sounds better if I meant to do it) about the third swipe with the rod a monster explosion erupted on my Timber Turbine.

I screamed like a little girl and set the hook out of pure reflex and the fight was on. This was definitely the biggest fish of the trip and he was making some enormous runs.

All of a sudden I hear my buddy Andres (booking agent for this lodge) screaming at the top of his lungs “oh that is a big peacock woo hoo.” I was thinking he was just that excited for my big fish but once I looked over I noticed he was hooked up with a giant peacock as well — a double.

As we played the fish side by side with the camera rolling, being ever so careful to not get the fish tied up with each other, my fish gave up first, the boga grip came out and the fish was mine. Andres was still playing his while I unhooked my beautiful specimen for the camera as his fish finally played out.

It was a great double — 16 and 14 pounds — and both in the most amazing spawning colors. The rest of the day was equally amazing with Andres landing another 12 pounder and myself landing the biggest peacock of our trip at a monster 18 pounds.

Throughout the entire trip we saw double-digit fish chasing our lures along with two fish that looked to be more than 20 pounds. This camp had multiple fish heavier than 20 pounds this season with so many mid-teens they didn’t keep track.

If you are one of those people who have the peacock bass on your bucket list, then this Colombia trip might be for you. Easy travel on LAN Airlines from Miami, very inexpensive and low pressure on the fish makes this place one of the most impressive fisheries we have travelled to and we didn’t get eaten by piranha or stingrays.

If you are interested in tackling the peacock bass of Colombia call the booking agent: Andres Jaras of International Angling at toll free at (866) 549-3633 or

Denis Isbister is the cohost of “Wild Fish Wild Places.”


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