Local Lighthouse Point fly-fisherman Derek Ulbrich finds the ultimate jungle experience and fly-fishing paradise in a deeply remote Bolivian national park amongst indigenous people of the Tsimane Tribe.
BY DEREK ULBRICH
Your native guides, using their wooden push poles, steady the dug-out canoe next to the stream’s bank. You jump out onto a long, moss-covered boulder, fly rod in hand, and scramble upstream. Your guide is ahead of you, elevated on another mossy rock. He is squatting, with frozen intensity, as he points upstream with his left hand and emphatically waves you forward with his right. He points to a good spot for you to stand below and makes the universal symbol for big fish with hands wide apart. Something great lurks ahead. Heart rate: 90.
You don’t pay attention to the huge yellow and blue macaws squawking as they pass above, crossing the narrow canyon that towers over you. You hear only the rushing stream, and the sound of your reel as you strip out 60 feet of line and prepare your cast. Your guide, Santiago, and you quickly discuss the fish’s location. It is sitting in the fast current, against the rock wall on the right where the stream is only 8 feet wide and 2 feet deep. You check your back cast situation; jungle plants, boulders and logs behind you wait eagerly to foil your attempt. You have only a very narrow corridor to work with. The cast is straight upstream, 20 meters into fast current; level of difficulty in the 9’s. Heart rate: increasing. It’s showtime. With a few false casts you feed out
the correct amount of line and land the fly exactly where you wanted, 5 feet in front of the fish. “Strip, strip, strip!” your guide shouts as you furiously try to keep up with the current rushing towards you. The fish turns and attacks the fly but the current is too fast, you feel it, you see it, but you can’t get tight to strip set the hook. You lift the rod in a last ditch effort to connect but the fly comes free and sails back past you at 100 mph. Brief and reflexive profanity ensues. You keep the false cast going though, ready for another shot. You still haven’t snagged a bush. Heart rate: 105 While keeping your false casts going your guide points again. He sees another fish, 20 feet farther up between a rock and a stick. Impossible you