Fly Fishing the Amazon (NOT!)

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I’m a Loomis GLX kind of girl. Add WonderLine and a Lamson reel, my favorite guide Mitch and a few clouds so I can toss double dries at the bank, and I can catch almost anything with fins. (True confession: I was one of only twelve who qualified for the IGFA World Championship a few years ago. Yes. You can salute now.)

But I pale in comparison to the Amazon angler. Our cruise included a fishing expedition down arguably the world’s longest river. A river full of critters (red-bellied piranha and alligator-like caiman come to mind) I really don’t want to catch. (Don’t forget the parasitic toothpick fish, the candiru, but I’ll spare you details.)

Mr. Wonderful, ever accomodating my sporting addiction, bravely offered to accompany me on an angling expedition. For the first time in twenty-six years, I declined.

I simply am not an Amazonian angler. I catch-and-release, something regarded as stupid in a region where every netting fills a belly. I rubberneck, watching elk and deer, golden and bald eagles, ermine and fox in a landscape I know well, and am unaccustomed to things that could eat me in a nanosecond. How poorly would I fish distracted by monkeys and parrots, wondering if the next splash was a flying frog (like the blue poison dart) or aggressive anaconda?

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And really, I don’t have the figure for Amazonian angling adventure. A loincloth? No. Give me Simms’ wading pants and good, solid, cleated boots. How am I supposed to see a #22 midge through mosquito net? What if a pirahna eats my hopper? When the electric eel takes my fly, my Tupi vocabulary doesn’t include colorful profanity.

No. I’m sitting on the boat as you read, sipping an iced tea under the sun canopy, watching one of our globe’s most remarkable and least-explored worlds float by. I’ll save my “Fish on!” for the Arkansas River caddis hatch next month, and live to fish another day.

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