Fishing in Peru is as old as human habitation itself. Chimu and Moche fishermen would put to sea on boats made of reeds (caballitos de totora) in order to make their catch; and it is said that Inca royalty dined on fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean, despite being some 1,000 km (620 miles) from the coast in Cusco ... thanks to a system of runners (chaskis).
It is no surprise that fish have played a huge part in Peru's cuisine and culture given their sheer quantity and variety. According to PROFONANPE (The Peruvian Trust Fund for National Parks and Protected Areas), there are 1,011 freshwater and 1,070 saltwater fish species in the country's waters. And new species continue to be discovered.
Amongst this natural diversity, there is certainly plenty that can mesmerize even the most experienced angler. Northern Peru offers sport fishermen (and women) the chance to catch a number of trophy species, both in the Amazon River and her many lakes and tributaries, and along the extensive Pacific coastline.
The cold Humboldt and the warm Niño currents converge off the coast of northern Peru, creating unique conditions that are perfect for deep-sea fishing, with the prospect of catching striped & black marlin, large eye & yellow-finned tuna, wahoo, mako shark, barracuda and dorado, among many others.
The waters near Cabo Blanco are famous for the 1953 capture of a a 709 kg (1,560 lb) black marlin, a world record. Ernest Hemingway spent three months here in 1956, staying at the exclusive Cabo Blanco Fishing Club, during the filming of his novel The Old Man & The Sea, and enjoying the fishing opportunities.
Sadly, a slight shift in the Humboldt Current, and a change in Peru's political climate, were detrimental to Cabo Blanco's well-heeled sports fishing community and the Fishing Club closed in 1970. However, in the time it was open, the Club set 15 world records, seven of which still stand, including the largest black marlin ever caught, above.
Now, Cabo Blanco is visited by surfers keen to ride the wave known as the 'Peruvian Pipeline'; meanwhile, most sports fishermen head further north to the beach towns of Mancora, Los Organos and Punta Sal, where there are still large marlin to be caught, with the best time for Striped Marlin being the months of June and July, while Black Marlin can be found in August, September and October.
For example, the Punta Sal Suites & Bungalow Resort, an hour south of Tumbes airport, has their own fully-equipped 10 m (33 ft) long fishing boat that offers deep sea fishing day trips. Many operators offer coastal trolling, deep fishing and bottom bait fishing.
Contact us for more information on sport fishing on Northern Peru's Pacific coast.
Peru's Amazon region has an extraordinary aquatic biodiversity that is part of the richest freshwater sport fishery on the planet.
Of the more than 1,000 freshwater fish found here, there are several Amazonian species considered trophies in the world of fishing:
- Tucunare (Cichla monoculus): the king of all freshwater game fish, the butterfly peacock bass. Has a beautiful yellowish-green coloring, with three black stripes on the side, and often red-orange pectoral fins, reminiscent of a peacock's plumage.
- Payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides): also known as giant wolf fish, saber tooth barracuda, vampire fish, vampire tetra, or saber tusk barracuda in reference to two long fangs - that can be up to 15 cm (6 inches) long - protruding from its lower jaw. Powerful jumpers when hooked, making them difficult to land. Remove hook with caution!
- Dorado Catfish (Brachyplatystoma flavicans): grows up to 1.2m (4 ft) and weighs up to 32 kg (70 lbs). They migrate upstream from the Amazon River estuary area (in Brazil) to riverways in the foothills of the Andes Mountains - a journey of several thousand kilometres - in order to spawn. This journey takes them past Iquitos.
- Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum): can weigh as much as 23 kg (50 lbs) and despite being a herbivore, puts up a real struggle when hooked. Has delicious meat.
As well as the above, there are often twenty or so different species that will take a fly or lure, in any given area. So, the adventurous angler will struggle to find harder-fighting or more exciting gamefish anywhere else ... and always in a stunningly beautiful location.
All the lodges in the Amazon province of Loreto offer piranha fishing - with rudimentary equipment - as part of their standard itineraries. However, several offer trips geared to the more serious sports angler:
- Otorongo Expeditions: US-owned fishing specialists, who use their basic lodge, located downstream from Iquitos on the Amazon River, as a base to fish Lake Ayzana, which is a sport fishing reserve. Have rental equipment.
- Heliconia Lodge: takes anglers to nearby lakes, Atun and Isana, for full-day fishing, before returning to the lodge at night.
- Ceiba Tops: like Heliconia, can take clients on day trips to suitable fish-filled (including Peacock Bass) lakes near the community of Orellana, providing both a specialist guide and equipment.
- Muyuna Lodge: located on the Yanayacu River, which is part of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Reserve, offers 5-day catch-and-release fishing trips, ostensibly for Peacock Bass, with the option to camp near the fisheries.
- Amazon Refuge Lodge: also located on Yanayacu River, offers itineraries to fish local lakes, as well as the opportunity to take a float plane to the remote Lake Huito area, where anglers camp and fish.
It is generally recommended to bring your own fishing rods and lures, as the equipment at the lodges tends to be limited ... and the worse-for-wear following numerous encounters with aggressive gamefish!
Contact us for more information on sport fishing in the Peruvian Amazon.