When I was younger I never had any visions outside of fishing anything but my small world of lakes and ponds. However, when you grow up most things change and hurdles arise. It is how you face those hurdles that define the outcome and your outlook. Billy Chapman Jr approached me about putting together a group of some of the most talented anglers in the world to go fish the Amazon. All of a sudden, I started thinking bigger - WAY BIGGER.
I hate to say that I was that guy on the trip, but I was. In true form, I spent hours tirelessly packing and planning. If you've ever visited one of Billy Chapman Jr.'s establishments then you know everything is already finished. He plans so meticulously that all you have to do is show up and fish.
There is no one on this planet more in tune with how an operation should be run than Billy Chapman Jr. He cut his outfitting teeth in the wilds of the Amazon. So selecting him to be our outfitter was a no brainer. Out in the middle of nowhere seems like a big obstacle to overcome, but Rio Negro Lodge operated by Anglers Inn is nothing short of breathtaking. It was heaven on Earth for our entire crew.
If you travel abroad you probably research the website and glass over the pictures and book. You are trusting those pictures are an accurate depiction of what you will see once you arrive. I am living proof that the pictures on website aren't entirely accurate. It is far better in person that what you could cruise online.
The service is exactly what you've come to expect from Billy Chapman Jr. and at times you forget you're a world away. The lodge becomes a home. The friendly faces, ridiculously good food and non-stop wildlife around makes you really appreciate the fact that somebody saw the beauty of the spot where Rio Negro Lodge rests.
That was my first hurdle I overcame. With my mind at ease, I was able to realize that the dream I had as a young boy had grown into something much larger than just basing my way through life in the States. I was in comfort at Rio Negro Lodge operated by Anglers Inn and there was nothing I wanted more at that time than hoisting one of those large peacock bass above my head.
My second hurdle came in the form of countless blades spinning around a single head. The umbrella rig isn't really something I like throwing. It just doesn't fit my style of fishing, and I was bound and determined to catch my largest peacock on the big fish producing Woodchopper. It didn't take me long to realized my skinny arms were not in shape for a 10 hours of chopping.
The Hog Farmer umbrella rig made for this trip was highlighted by a dozen or so spinner blades and a single trailer hook springing out the back of the rig. When tuned properly these can be killer, but still it sin't my style. Our guide Eddie and another guide hacked their way into this gorgeous looking backwater area of the Rio Negro. Fish were exploding all around and we presented our offerings - nothing. They were no more interested in our choppers, jigs, crankbaits and topwater plugs than I was in returning to the lodge empty handed.
This is the moment that the second hurdle went down. I picked up the Hog Farmer and it produced my biggest peacock of the trip on the third cast. Needless to say, when I saw dark tannic water the Hog Farmer was the first bait I threw.
The final hurdle for me was the health concerns most people have with traveling overseas. It was hard not to listen to reports of viruses that you could catch, but Billy was reassuring and let us know we didn't have any worries. He went on to explain that we had just as good of chance of catching something here in the States than we did down in Brazil. Still, I packed copious amounts of the most potent bug goo known to man.
When I arrived I applied said bug goo, but nobody else applied. I thought this was odd since I brought plenty. They did something that I should have done. They listened to their outfitter. That was the last time I applied anything other than sunscreen on this skin.
From the time the small band of anglers arrived in Manaus till the time we left the beautiful Rio Negro Lodge, we never saw a single mosquito. I thought I'd arrive to swarms of fist-sized biters ready to carry me off, but we never saw a thing. Billy explained that the water in the Rio Negro isn't conductive for these critters to produce so they multiply elsewhere.
Growing up is tough. Overcoming your own hurdles is easy when you have a place as good as Rio Negro Lodge just a phone call away. I will be back without hesitation because the grown up me knows there are people like Billy Chapman Jr. out there taking care of every detail , allowing me the freedom to simply enjoy myself.