On a heavy, sweltering afternoon, we all loaded up in the back of the truck. Making room for the long, bushelled bamboo poles, we sat side by side looking out into the countryside as we inched towards our fishing hole.
This is what I came for, what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was the cheesy horror movies of the early 80’s or the reading up I’ve done over the years that followed, but fishing the back rivers of Brazil for piranha has been on the top of my list forever.
And there we were. Moving away from the truck, we gently made our way down the sloping banks of the green river. There was nothing and no one around. Drier than usual, we were told, the river had receded to show much of it’s clay skeleton. We followed each other, single file, towards a break in the brush on the bank. The sun was orange, it was perfect light.
Our local Pantanal guide sat perched on top of a sandy mound and began to cut up the bait. Undesirable scraps of last night’s beef were on the menu and we lined up to either have our hook baited by him or to grab a handful and run off to fish for ourselves.
The demonstrated instructions were quick and rather simple:
- Grab your baited bamboo fishing pole.
- Stand as close to the water as possible.
- Drop your line in the water and wait.
Now, this isn’t like any other fishing trip you’ve ever been on; where the word “wait” can mean wait all day. Not here and not piranha. Literally 5 seconds after the bait hits the water, a feeding frenzy is taking place. Five seconds later and you’ve waited too long. Your hook is bare.
Before we knew it, there were piranha on just about every line, drawing the attention of the local cayman who decided to join us on the river bank, hoping for an easy meal. It was majestic and extremely photogenic.
Every one of us came home with dinner that night. Served deep fried – whole and family style, piranha don’t make much of a meal, but a story and an incredible memory they always will.