Just a 1.5-hour flight from Buenos Aires is the Provincial city capital of Corrientes. Each year our head guide Luiz travels north for the fishing season from January through March. This week we brought some guests from the United States to fish the upper section of the Paraná River to see if we could land some giants.
This section of the Paraná River offers a variety of fish species and fishing techniques. We started the day fly fishing with large streamers for the aggressive golden dorados. They usually hang out in shallow sandy banks stalking sabalo. Recent changes in the weather and water levels meant the fish were holding in different areas. After trying several spots, we found a large group of feeding dorados and were able to put a few well aimed casted right in front of them. The take from a dorado is the most aggressive fresh water bite I have ever encountered. At first it feels like a tree trunk smashed your fly out of nowhere, after the set and subsequent head shakes, you know your hooked up. Dorado are known to leap several feet out of the water attempting to throw the hook. Reeling them in is true fight and the satisfaction of pulling one into the boat is pure joy. After landing a few nice dorados in the morning, we moved to the smaller water channels to avoid the wind. Here we fished along the leafy banks for pacu with imitation round fruits to mimic those falling out of the trees, a natural food source for pacu. We also tried large dry flies and hoppers because the terrestrial activity has picked up. They rise up from the bottom at the sound of your fruit hitting the water. We landed several here throughout the afternoon and as the sun set called it a day.
The next morning, we were up early stalking dorados on the sandy shores. It is a wild sight to watch a school of bait fish move and splash in unison as large dorado attempt to swim into their pods and grab a meal. This also complicates the fishing as the sabalo will occasionally get hooked as well. They are no small baitfish, typically measuring 20 inches long and weighing up to 5 pounds. The windy conditions made casting a nightmare and we soon switched to targeting pacu in the calmer portions of the river. We were able to find them as well as pira pita, a fish belonging to the same family as dorado but usually smaller and without teeth.
On our final day, with windy conditions persisting, we switched to bait casting in attempt to land some giants. We tried some deeper pools within the back channels but eventually moved into the large section of the river. Here is where the monsters roam. After a few changes in lures we had something big on the line. The rod was bending over as the drag was being tested. After a thirty-minute struggle we finally saw the dorsal fin of a massive surubi. It still took a while to get it within reaching distance of our guide Luiz. These massive catfish have black spots all over their bodies and an impressive spectrum of color. It was easily the biggest fresh water fish I had landed. Truly a river monster.