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The Diarrhea Issue and Lost Fish - Bolivia Part IV

We don’t know what it was but after those two hot days three of us had severe diarrhea and Mark was kind of dehydrated. The exposure to the sun, the mosquitos, and specially not drinking enough water. I got my diarrhea, too. I took the pills and I was feeling better the following day.

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The same for Mark who also puked and was shaking and having some temperature at night but Rell and I were able to wake up in the morning and go fishing. For that day, it had been planned to go fishing to Agua Negra for the day and come back. It would be half of the day in the Agua Negra river, where you get tired easily because you have to wade and it’s a lot of work. It was planned like that because one of the engines broke in the boat so in that way we got to share the boat.


Agua Negra fishing was pretty amazing.
It’s a small creek that comes down from the mountains in the jungle and ends up in the Secure river. So that day I went with Cane, I took my rod Sage number 7, beautiful one. We got a Rio Dorado line and we started walking upstream trying to see the dorados before they saw us. We saw so much action that day, we saw so many Dorados trying to attack Sabalos. The Sabalos were in the lower parts of the river and the Dorados feed on them. There I was when this attack happened. One of the attacks that I remember clearly. The Dorados are such aggressive fish. In the nervous water is were all the fish are jumping and fighting and this aggressiveness made the Dorados jump like crazy. When you cast there, the Dorados jump into your fly because of these aggressiveness..
The dorados are moving around, they got some areas where they go up and down, checking for food. It gets more intense and it’s like hunting. We go walking and looking at the water for the fish with our polarized sunglasses for being in the water. So it can happen that you are looking and walking and waiting for half and hour until you see a fish that you want to cast. The water was very clear, very very clear. Every movement when your fly,  the rod or the line goes past them close, it spooks them. I would say everything around 10 yards for them, it’s something they will see.


It took me a while to understand what Cane wanted me to do. And I think Cane was trying to realize what was the best way to fish those waters and I finally understood how to do it, two days later when we did the same, walking upstream with Gabriel who had 3 or 4 seasons experience. But the point is, at the beginning we were casting a lot and we missed 7-8 nice dorados…they were seeing us. I made a couple of wrong casts, when the fly was short or was too long and the line spooked the fish or at the same time you went a little bit to the right because the wind just moved you fly or a little bit to the left. So end of the story, I was walking and I was kind of tired. That day I was not feeling good because of the diarrhea. I was short of energy. After lunch I was feeling much better, I was able to do some fly cast and at the end I got a beautiful Dorado. 18-20 pounds. That made my day. Then we had two hours to come down to the lodge again. It was tiring, it was long, I was not feeling at my best so it was good to be back at the lodge and see my friends again. That day Ian got his first Pacu, so it was an interesting day.


Every night at the lodge, I took the batteries from my backpack and put them to load. Batteries from the Go Pros, batteries for the cameras, etc. I also had a nice shower, got some mosquito repellent, comfortable clothes and we talked about the day. We got some appetizers, I remember this one that was great: caramelized sweet bread. it was just scrumptious. I also had an amazing selection of cheese. Every evening we got some selection of cheese. I loved it. Some peanuts and pistachios too and other snacks too, which we really appreciated after long days in the water.
Dinner was not fancy but was very good. The chef, Leandro, was from Argentina as I’ve mentioned. He prepared some very, very good food just with simple ingredients. The food in the river, the lunches, were not that sophisticated, it could be improved a little bit more, but, seriously, we had such a great time in the river that there’s no need to moan about that.

What I can say about the lunches is that one day we talked to the manager Cane about them and asked him if it was possible for the next day to have some salads with the tortillas, meet and empanadas they send us. And they made it, it was good, it was nice. They always sent us a very nice dessert in the river. Something sweet is always appreciated. But at that time the weather was getting better, the water was getting cooler and that was good, a bit of a relief. Sometimes it was cloudy. When we returned, we realized that Mark was still sick. He hadn’t improved. So we said, Ok Mark, if you do not get better in one day, we are going to take you out of the jungle. Scott was departing in a day, he only had one more day to go. So the idea was to fish on Friday, let Mark relax for another day, and see if he could recover and fish the last three days or if we had to make the difficult decision to ask Mark to leave when Scott left the jungle. He was not feeling good at all, he was lying on bed, dehydrated, with diarrhea. Not a very good scenario.

On that day, Scott wanted to do the Agua Negra again. He did the same I did the day before on Friday, and it was a great day for him. He got like 4 different fish. He did the camp upstream in Agua Negra river and he came back very excited about it and I thought, Ok, this is what I want to do before I leave. So I got to make up my mind and go back to Agua Negra, I didn’t want to at the beginning. If you have read about my first day, I had no fish, and it was all about frustration. Mark was still in bed, Ian decided to stay with him. So I went by myself with Miguel. It would be the first time fishing with Miguel. He’s from Buenos Aires and he moved to Rio Pico. He changed his life about seven years ago when he decided he wanted to be a fly fishing guide, so he moved south and changed his life. He’s the father of a nine month girl now and he’s a very happy guide. Very good fly fishing guide and I realized that day I wanted to talk to you about this day since it was a very special one for me. You know, when you have a guide you can connect with, everything is different.

The first thing I want to tell you about the day fly fishing with Miguel is that the three most interesting fish I got were the ones I was not able to bring to the net and it was not because of mistakes, just because they were big fish that we caught in very, very difficult areas. I was able to do it after I saw Miguel casting. I started fly fishing myself and he helped me and told me how to stand up. We did all wading, nothing from the boat, we started the good areas, let’s say, 50 yards from the hot spots, and you get to imagine… not very deep, from your ankles to your knees and from there, just fly cast. There were some holes, close to the logs, where the water could get up to your chest, but no more than that. So I got a nice fish, about 15 pounds, one at 10. 30, early in the morning, that was a very good way to start! And then I got some smaller fish, 6 to 8 pounds, no bigger than that. We brought them to the net and it was with a number 9, sage rod, Motive. It was not something that interesting to do, but, you know, it was interesting. This is fishing. We continued fishing together, I was fly casting a lot. Miguel was giving me nice tips and finally I said “Miguel, you do it man. Show me how to do it” And I’m telling you. It’s so nice when you see someone in his environment, doing what he knows to do…And he got this rod and he started moving it slowly, step to step. One cast, two, three steps, another cast, getting into deeper water, casting in between two logs, very fast. Sometimes the line got stuck between the logs and with a quick movement he released them, continued walking and stripping. So what I did in 20 minutes, he did it in 10, 8 minutes. But the way his movements were so natural, all his casting and interaction with the environment was so natural I was amazed. I learnt a lesson from him that day.

I also want to talk about Zapallo and Roycer who were helping us that day. They were doing the filming and photos as I said, but they were also talking to us and asking us about the fish. They were excellent at sight fishing, even without polarized glasses, they could see better than anybody and they were the first to spot any movement in the water so we really appreciated their help. I gave my rod to Roycer and like I said before, he had a great, smooth cast, he could get some fish while we were there. He liked it a lot so at the end of the trip I gave them some flies and extra line and some clothes, buff, gloves, so that he could have some stuff to fly fish more comfortably in the future.

Now, we’re getting to the point when I got the three most beautiful fish. I hooked them, but we couldn’t net them. But how could I explain in words where I was with Miguel? and how I was feeling? I was there in the water, where most of the current was concentrated, the log was in the middle, the water going over that log and you know, under that log, this big log. I thought, under that log there should be a fish. And there were no many ways to cast there. To get there I had to cast over some other logs, across the current where the water divides into two and put the fly like five yards behind the log. I did one strip and I felt the splash, the fish got the fly and jumped over the log. It was already right in the middle of the current. That was when I realized that I was nervous. The fish did two or three jumps and I got all the line in, and in the next thing I know, pum, the hook released from the fish. The mistake in that cast was the tension in the line. Remember there was a log behind, a log in front, and I needed to hold that fish, for a minute at least, in that space till I could move myself and move the fish to one of the sides. Well, that was not possible. We agreed the fish was a twenty pounder or more, it was amazing, but it sucked I couldn’t fish it in that area. But again, this was a reminder that the important thing is not always to get the fish. To be fishing in this paradise was amazing at that was what counted. There were two more beautiful fish to come, Miguel said, the hot spot is there, put the line across that area of 4 square meters. So we fished the area before getting there. Nothing happened.

When we got to the area that was the hot spot, I made a long cast, and I felt it, I felt the bite but I couldn’t get it. I felt excited. I wanted to get it, I knew it was a fish, and I knew it was big so I wanted to get it, I felt the tension in the line. We did two more casts and we got the fish. We felt the pressure. The reel was completely blocked so the fish couldn\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t go down. But at that time, when I was trying to get the fish, tuck, the line cut. The leader was cut, no more fish. Miguel looked at me and told me, man, that fish was big! It felt like a big fish, and you know, right after he said that the fish jumped in the air trying to release from the hook, it was an amazing fish, another 20 pounders and he jumped two more times trying to release from the hook.

Last spot, where I lost the third fish.
Miguel put pressure on me and and said, this is the best spot of the river. This is where Ian got a Pacu and a dorado, so there should be fish at these logs. Long story short, like ten casts, nothing. And then, out of the blue, a cast that was nothing special. We just saw a big dorado coming. Part of how I lost this fish was my fault. I couldn’t hold the line really strong. He took like five yards of line and the fish was jumping at the end over the logs. By the time I wanted to hold it really strong, he was already through the logs, in twenty seconds he had unhooked itself from the fly. We could recover the fly and keep trying but this fish was probably 16 pounds and it was almost time to head back to the lodge. I said to Miguel, I think I can try to get one more fish, and then we’re done. Seven nice fish, we only could net four, but the other three were amazing. Again, I felt great, I remembered I was in paradise. I was feeling that my soul was breathing, I came here for the fish but also for the experience. I felt happiness. I don’t really know how to describe it but I felt it.

I wanna talk about Rell now. He got one dorado that day, I don’t want to count how many fish he got. He didn’t catch tons but I want to say what he told me. He was so happy to share that week, to be there, to spend 7 days in that environment, in the jungle with the local guides and guides who were taking care of us and being able to fly cast for these monsters of the rivers. It was so nice to see his happiness. He’s a good friend, we met 15 years ago, it’s a pleasure every time I see him.

And now let me talk about Ian. He’s a very methodic fly caster, he’s got lots of experience, more than 40 years fly fishing. He doesn\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t have a long cast but he’s a person than when he is in a regular distance from where he needs to fly cast, he’s very neat and always makes the cast go to where it needs to be, one cast after the other, he never leaves any area unexplored, and usually, the areas he covers are very prolific.

This is a good story about how sometimes logic is not what happens. We were fishing with Ian the following day. Miguel was our guide. He was fishing at the front and I was in the back. I was fishing the waters behind him, and then he got fish so we changed. At some point, we were fishing very close to each other, no more than 10 meters apart. I was in front and he was behind. And he said, Miguel, why on earth am I fishing this close to Pablo? Because  this is a very very good area. This is where the Secure River and the Agua Negra River meet and these two logs are very good. Be sure to cast more than one time. This is a very prolific area and I want to be sure that if there’s fish, we get them. If Ian had said that to me, I would have let Ian fish by his own, but Ian is very perseverant and remember that he is 78 years old... so he continued fly fishing, I passed all the logs and through all the connections between and didn’t get a single bite, but when Ian was behind close by to that log, he caught a twenty pounder fish. I had been there, all over that water...So, who can explain to me how on earth does this happen? Sometimes we fish an area and the person that comes behind you is the one who gets it. If it hadn’t happened to me, I would never have believed that it had happened. But I saw it with my eyes, so now I know that fly fishing can be unpredictable. Miguel helped him and blocked his reel because the fish was taking the line, so when the fish stopped Miguel blocked it. When we got the fish and took photos I could feel the tension in Ian’s body. You know, to land that fish when you’re 78, after a long day and after 5 days fishing. I don’t have a grandpa, I didn’t meet mine either. But if I had the choice to choose one, I’d like to have someone like Ian, to go fishing with but drink some whiskey together, too.


It was a long time since I had been fishing with Mark. He’s very smart, a very intelligent person who thinks outside the box. He’s a very interesting person to be around so I missed him, it was a pity that he couldn’t be in the water with us. When we came back to the lodge, he was still feeling really weak. We knew he had to go in the next flight the following day, it was a sad decision but we had to think about safety and health first. So, long story short, Mark had to leave earlier. He took a flight back when Scott left. He had a two hour boat ride, a two hour flight, and then finally get to Santa Cruz, go to the doctor, and go to the hotel for three nights until we met him on Tuesday. By that time, it had been already 4 days with our feet completely wet, so it’s very important for every person who makes the decision to come and join us in this paradise to bring talcum powder for you feet!

Also, It’s important to pack many sets of socks, you need dry socks every morning, and also every afternoon when you come back from the fishing. You also need to bring good wading boots for rocks, some areas of the river have many rocks and it’s important that you are comfortable in those areas and also socks, those neoprene wading socks for boots to make your feet more comfortable. The lycra pants were perfect. Even Ian said he liked them! I knew they weren’t going to have some so I bought some for them, and they said that it was the best, so I suggest every person coming here to check the gear list very carefully. You need at least two pairs of lycra pants and then you put your shorts over that and your wading boots and that’s the perfect gear for a day in the water.

We got two cloudy days that were windy as well and it was difficult to cast in some parts of the river because at some times the wind picked up. The weather changes a lot, now the temperature of the water was probably 20 degrees. The action was still good, sometimes the day started very good but then we had a couple of hours when nothing would happen and then, out of the blue you got action for a couple of hours. So, it’s like everything in fishing, there’s no 100% fishing, all the time. So if somebody asked me, Pablo, how many fish am I expected to catch? I would probably say, well, if you are a good fly caster and you know how to read the river, 5 nice fish a day would be a nice average. You can be lucky and get 8 a day, but that’s not going to be the average. One day could be 8 and another one 2. And if your casting is not the best yet, you can expect two really beautiful fish a day, when the weather conditions are good. Because when the weather conditions are bad, the fishing is going to be tough for everybody. But, listen, that doesn’t mean that is not going to be FUN. You have the chance of having 20-25 pounders at the end of your line most of the time, and if you are lucky, a 30 pound! A 15, 14 pounder  at the end of the line when you’re fishing dorado is a great thing. Many people would like to be in that situation.

I want to remind you that we were in the Secure River, the Agua Negra River in the Oro Momo Reservation. I’d like to talk now about the aboriginal area: how it is structured, how they go to school, how these guys live in this area. For six months, they live from what they fish. Because when the water comes up during the rainy season, all the fish go down, and at the end of the rainy season is when the fish go up again and there’s so much food that the fish gain 2 or 3 kilos. That’s why at the beginning of the season we see a lot of fish but not that big, and at the end of the season we see less fish, but much bigger. I guess, every time is going to be good, I would suggest avoiding being there after the first two weeks of October, even though I say that October will always be risky because if by any reason the rainy season starts early and it rains for two days, even the flight out of the jungle can be complicated. So we’ve been lucky. Extremely lucky. our week was amazing for being there the second week of October. In my calendar now and for the friends who want to come next time, is September the next time. We want to go to another lodge in the same area, Asunta or Pluma lodge. It will depend on the people that want to come with us.

To be continued...

Pablo Aguilo

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