Bolivia - Tsimane Golden Dorado

WCO Premier Destination - Tsimane (Golden Dorado) Bolivia

There are few places left on the earth that are as wild and untamed as the Bolivian jungle. There are also very few apex predatory freshwater game fish left on earth that have been caught by many modern fly anglers. Marcelo Perez and his business partner Rodrigo Salles have created and unparalleled angling experience in the Bolivian jungle that gives a fly angler the opportunity to catch what the staff at WCO believes is the finest freshwater game fish on earth.

There are things in high demand these days among traveling fly anglers. for the most part they want clear water sight fishing opportunities. They want a fish that is not over forgiving, easy fish get boring. On top of all of that they want a fish that pulls really hard and can be a little dangerous to fish for. The Golden Dorado fisheries of the Pluma and Secure river systems check all those boxes and much more.

It is a surreal experience to walk through a jungle with monkeys and Macaw's above your head with a native guide cutting you a path with a machete' all while holding a fly rod in your hand. I can assure you will will not have another experience anywhere in the world that will draw even a parallel to this fishing. You are fishing for the greatest predator in freshwater in the world in one of the most pristine places on earth.

We would though temper everything said here though that it is not a place someone not in good physical condition should visit. It is hard and demanding but will give you more satisfaction than any other trip you may do. We would recommend considering the physical risk and reward for this trip.

The Fishing

The fishing is always the number on reason to go on a trip but in this instance everything else comes in a close second, man is this place beautiful. The fishing is centered around the Golden Dorado in both the main stems of the Pluma and Secure Rivers as well as their tributaries. You will get a mixture of big water fishing as well as some higher water in the tributaries that are mike being on trout water. Big boulders and small falls create some fascinating and challenging fishing. You will do a fair share of sight fishing in both the main river, while the Dorado bait fish called Sabalo. they can also be laid up in very shallow water and can be waded to, making long casts are mandatory and we recommend at least a 60 foot casting ability for this trip. Trout tactics will not help much, though bass anglers will fell right at home.

You will find Dorado are in 3 situations. You will fish to big schools of 6 to 12 fish busting bait on shoals and shallow tail out of large long pools. This is exciting and requires good quick casting, it doesn't last long and once its over the fish are down. The other are the fish in structure and to a streamer angler who pursues trout and bass this will feel extremely familiar. This is done from boats and accurate casting is vital, your success will be measured by the how much your fly is in the strike zone. Dorado will cling to structure at times and it takes a little more work and casting persistence to get them to move and eat the fly. they are no different than any other predator sometimes their strike zone is great big and other times very small. One way or the other though when they eat your fly there is not denying what has happened. The third way are fish in the headwater holding in small pocket areas that require precise casting and usually the angler only gets one shot at those fish. This is an intense and exciting way to fish for Golden Dorado and is a highlight of the trip.

The day persists of two anglers per boat with at least one non native fly angling guide and 2 or 3 native guides who know the river backwards and forwards. Both are invaluable to the trip and having both makes your fishing experience that much better. The native guides will see Dorado before anyone else, sort of like a good Bahaman guide sees Bonefish a mile away. You will get out of the boat often to cast to laid up fish or even firing fish on the shoals and tail outs of holes. Wading can be challenging at times and good felt boots with spikes are extremely helpful. The guides will put you in a good position to make the presentation the rest is up to you.

 

   

Fly selection can be done by taking your own or getting flies at the lodge. We recommend tying various dark imitations of the Andino Streamer in black/red, black/purple, black/blue. Though some Puglisi style flies in various lighter colors are helpful as well. Here is a link to the Andino Streamer.

The Lodge

 

The lodge is a wonder of comfort and jungle beauty. It is truly amazing that the crew at Untamed Angling where able to build the current lodge in all of 60 days. The previous lodge was wiped away by a flood and had to be replaced last season in a matter of 60 days. WCO was actually the first group to visit the new lodge in 2015. When we returned in 2016 it was well appointed with every comfort you could ask for in the jungle. There is no airconditioning but the lodge is open air and is comfortable in the morning and evenings when the sun goes down. Sometimes in the months of June and July it can actually get cool so a fleece is not a bad idea, we have experienced both conditions at the lodge.

The food is simple but good and you are fed well. Breakfast is simple but hearty, eggs and bacon as well as homemade pancakes are available. There is also fruit and homemade bread to go with your morning coffee. The lodge cooks are able to do about anything you ask of them within the means of the jungle. Lunches on the river are again simple and there is plenty of it. Each meal includes veggies and meat and if you request fruit as well. Each boat has a Yeti cooler to keep it all cold and refreshing. Dinners involve Hors d'oeuvre in the living area followed up by a wonderful dinner consisting of meat, potatoes and veggies. The dinners are simple but very hearty and gets you filled back up after a full day of fishing. The water is also safe, the lodge has a very good filtration system. There is of course good wines and other alcohol beverages at the open bar. There is no bartab at the end of the week, everything is included in the price.

The rooms are nicely appointed with really comfortable beds and bug nets. Sometimes the bugs are worse than others. We have been there in June and July and have had almost no bugs but as the season progresses bugs become an issue. The lodge fumigates every two weeks to keep the bigs down. The rooms also have hot showers and toilets in the restrooms. There is also laundry service that is done each day so don't pack to much you can keep your clothing clean and in rotation.

 

 

Equipment and Clothing

 

We have what you need to take and what you don't need to take. We highly recommend plenty of flies as even with the best tied flies you usually get one fish per fly maybe two if you are lucky, Dorado destroy flies. Here is what we recommend taking.We recommend at least 3 rods and 4 is better. We like 8 and 9 weight saltwater rods with stuff butts for lifting big flies out of the water and fighting fish. We recommend at least two 8 weight rods and a 9 weight rod. We tend to think the 9 weight is the better all around rod there so maybe two 8's and two 9's.

Tackle - Rods

We like to make sure we have plenty of 8 and 9 weight rods on the trip, you chances of breaking a rod are higher than normal. One because you get in an out of the boat a lot and you end up waling through the jungle at some point. The second reason is that Dorado are tackle busters and you could very well nick a rod with a heavy fly that will cause a break, or they just may break it straight away. We like 9 foot rods and under, the shorter bass rods are fine for the bid water out of the boat but we don't like them for presenting to a fish in small or shallow water, best to have a higher degree of line control in those situations.

Tackle - Reels

IF you fight the fish properly there should stay away from the backing but they can get into the backing so a reel with a couple hundred yards is a good idea. You may also hook a very large catfish and that will require every bit of that backing. We have hooked catfish in the 150 pound range that took our fly lines and a considering amount of our fly line away from us, extra lines we will get to in a minute. Saltwater drags are a good idea we use Hatch and Tibor reels on our trips, anything you would use for Bonefish or Tarpon is a good choice.

Tackle - Fly Lines

We highly and we mean highly recommend extra fly lines, double up your lines. You will have someone loose a line on a trip just make sure you don't be that person without an extra floating or sinking line. We strongly recommend either floating or intermediate sink tip lines in Rio Outbound or S/A Titan tapers. These lines cast better with the flies you will use and the need to pick up a cast and fire it again in a short time is really important for the fish blasting Sabalo. It is recommended for the hot season to use Saltwater lines. We found that early in the year in June and July this was not necessary, during August, September and October it might be a good idea, it get really hot and freshwater lines can get a little soft in the heat. Backing is also and issue, we DO NOT recommend taking your steelhead reels and assuming 20 pound backing is okay. IT'S NOT!!! You need a minimum of 30 pound and we recommend using the 50 pound Hatch backing. Most every fish in the river is going to fight you to the death and in some gnarly stuff. Remember the catfish we told you about, there are actually bigger ones that might eat your fly. Loosing a fly line to broken backing will ruin your day. Don't cut corners!!!

Leaders and Terminal Tackle

This is pretty simple. You will use a few feet or 50 pound fluorocarbon and a 40 pound wire bit leader. Nothing else will work, don;t over think it. Your guides are good knot tiers and will be more than happy to rig you. Do not sue the RIO bite material the Dorado will chew through it. American fishing wire is the only thing we will trust.

Flies

We recommend Andino Deceiver type flies and also some bigger saltwater poppers. The NYAP popper is a very good choice bit bring several the Dorado will destroy them. Also the guides will have flies for the Pacu which are mostly nut imitations, some that float and others that sink. The lodge will have flies to purchase but we recommend tying lots of Andino patterns in black/red, black/purple, black/blue and black/chartreuse.

Gear and Clothing

It is very important to have a waterproof bag the boats will get water in them. We all like the waterproof back packs from Patagonia and Simms. It also doubles as a good carry one. Pliers are a must to gets hooks out of fish (be careful) and to cut wire, though the guides will help there as well. Good boots with felt are critical, do not bring river tread "sticky" sole type soles they will not work. Felt with spikes is even better. You might have never wading anything quit like this so be prepared with the right shoes.

  • 3 ventilated flats shirts
  • 3 pair of fast drying pants
  • 1 pair of fast drying shorts
  • 3 pair of socks for wading or light weight Neoprene socks
  • Next-to-skin base layer
  • 1 fleece jackets or sweater
  • 1 Light Gore-Tex or similar rain jacket.
  • Lightweight Gore-Tex waders for June-August months.
  • Strong and durable Wading Boots. Felt sole is highly recommended. Studded felt soles are recommended for the one that are not familiar with wading in mountain streams. Do not bring rubber soles. They don't work on those streams. All boots are disinfected on your arrival at the lodge.
  • Dry Bag or back-pack. We recommend Water resistant backpacks or lumbar packs. Fishing vests is too much for warm weather.
  • Waterproof Sunscreen SPF 30+ (UVA) (UVB) (waterproof)

Checklist

_ Fly Rods 8/9/6 Weights (no less than 3)

_ Reels

_ Fly Lines and extras

_ Leaders, Fluorocarbon Tippet, and Wire Bite Tippet

_ Long needle nose pliers

_ Hook Sharpener

_ Extra tippet and wire

_ Stripping Fingers, finger tape and fishing-sun pr

_Protective gloves

_ Folding or Telescoping Wading Staff

_ Line clippers

_ Hat with Brim and Buff®

_ Felt Sole Wading Boots with Studs

_ Gravel Guards or Wading Socks with Cuff

_ Light Weight Gore-Tex® Rain Jacket and Pants

_ Light Weight Synthetic Long Underwear

_ Light Weight Synthetic Fleece Top

_ 3 Long Sleeve Fishing Shirts

_ 3 Pair of Fast Drying Pants

_ 1 Pair of Fast Drying Shorts

_ 3 pair of Socks for Wading or Light Weight Neoprene Socks

_ Tape measure

_ Waterproof camera, storage cards, batteries and charger

_ Smart Phone or Tablet with charger

Typical Itinerary

Day 0:  Arrive to Santa Cruz. Our representative will be waiting for you in Viru Viru International Airport. Transfer from airport to Hotel.  One night at five start Hotel – Los Tajibos (included in package). Beverages and meals are not included.

Day 1:  Breakfast at Hotel. Tsimane’s local host will pick up the group of 8 anglers around 9:30 am to head to the local airport. The group will then board the charter flight to the Oromomo Indian Community (90 minute flight). The guides will welcome the group upon landing, and transfer everyone to the Pluma Lodge. This transfer is a boat ride for 1h (Depending of the water level ) to the Pluma Lodge. After settling into lodge, the guides will help you prepare your gear, then offer a brief orientation of your fishing week and the fishing beats rotation, along with the options for the headwater Pluma/Itirizama camp possibilities.  You may even have some time to do some self-guided fishing that first evening at the home pool before dinner.

Days 2 to 7: Each day anglers pair up to fish one of the beats in the Pluma area and by the end of the day head back to Pluma Lodge. There is the possibility to fish the upper Pluma and Itirizama river headwater camps for one night during the fishing week. Groups are welcome to switch so that everyone has an opportunity to experience the headwater camps.

We recommend the upper Pluma/Itirizama camps only for physically fit anglers. All of the fishing is done walking and wading upstream, and long hikes are necessary to reach the upper camp areas by the end of the day. There are also advanced second camps in both Pluma and Itirizama, which allow the more adventurous anglers to extend their stay on the headwaters of these unique virgin mountain rivers.

We have two dugout canoes, berthed at the lower secure area, each one with spacious casting areas and outboard motors. They will be located at the lodge and allow anglers to reach the lower Secure river area which is one of the most productive Tsimane spots. This lower part of Secure river is a magnificent big dorado fishery with log structures, runs and side channels.

Day 8: In the morning, guests will pack up transfer back to the Oromomo Indian Community where you will meet your charter flight back to Santa Cruz (1:50hs). In Santa Cruz you will be met by a member of the Tsimane staff who will take you to the Hotel Los Tajibos to overnight (included in package).

Day 9:  You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Two pairs of Polaroid glasses (in case you lose or break a pair)

Rates

A week of fishing consists of 6 days fishing, all transfers and the flight form Santa Cruz to the village is included in the price. You will have a night stay going in and then a second night going out at Las Tajibos Hotel, both nights are included in the cost of the trip. You will however be responsible for your own airfare from your home city to Santa Cruz and back. We highly recommend travel insurance as well as medical evac insurance, both of which are NOT included.

Price 7 nights / 6 fishing days = $7,600.00 per person

For more info email Chad at chad@wildcatcreekoutfitters.com

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