I left England on the 9th March and arrived back on the 30th March having been to Guyana to fish the upper reaches of the Essequibo River, the trip to which is an adventure in itself.
To do a diary type write up could be a bit dry in that it would be caught this followed by caught that and then caught something else again, rather I thought a series of photos that can be worth a thousand words each would make a pleasing change.
We flew Gatwick to Trinidad and then on to Georgetown, Guyana
Once in Georgetown we stayed overnight and before leaving changed money into the local currency, then we went shopping at the supermarket for extra goodies. With 12 people total this does add up just in drinks. The fuel was the biggest single expense being ten 50 gallon drums of fuel plus the oil needed to go with it. Most had already been obtained for us and sent ahead so our four trolly loads were definately needed extras.
The main road between Guyana and Brazil has to be traveled to be believed. In the rainy season it can be unpassable for weeks at a time having been washed out, in normal times it is just like the worse farm track you have travelled, pot holes just does not cover the size and frequency that they appear. A good trip is 8 hrs, this one took 10 hrs, but Joe has taken 14 hrs in the past.
With the gear and food loaded in the boats we set off, but then had to leave some of the goods since the boats were overloaded.
I'm not sure how many falls we went up but it was a lot. You start off thinking they will not go that way since it looks too bad, but later in the trip you take those as normal and others really do look frightening. The boat driver are amazing and seem to be heading straight for an area where the is a giant hole in the falls water but just as you get there another wave comes in and you travel on quite smoothly. That said they were some that gave one hell of a bang as you landed, having been right up in the air off one wave and coming down to land on the next.
Having done 10 hrs on the road we now had about 10 hrs plus on the river this being made worse by low water that meant driving quite slowly though very shallow water.
With sub surface rocks it can be quite interesting.
My first day redtail catfish of 43lb.
My boat partner Adrian with his first day redtail catfish of 58lb.
This is a pariah and although you hook them quite frequently they either throw the hooks or their mates in the pack cut your line while you are playing them. I hooked quite a few but did not land one.
My first ever jau catfish. I think the name means rock fish and they live up to that name. They come from the most rocky areas and it is quite common to loose three out of four to the rocks. When playing them you cannot afford to give line since they only go one way, down to the nearest rock formation.
The black piranah is a major problem both in lost tackle that they bite off while playing a fish, and they cut the line while trying to take bites out the the fish you are playing. Then of course there is the damage they cause to the fish you are playing. The teeth are literally like razors and slick the 100 Kg line in a flash. Your fingers would be no problem.
Slightly out of focus but this gives and idea of the teeth.
A freshwater turtle nest supplies extra goodies for the villagers, only a limited number are taken and most nests are left alone.
Slightly different and it would appear this is known as a blinker catfish.
Adrian with the only lau lau to our boat with this one of 57lb, Joe took a couple but included one of 206lb.
Our boat driver stopped off on a island to make this bow which all the lads has and used to chase a fish called pacu. This provides the main meal for all the helpers as well as bait for us at times.
The pacu can be seen in the shallow rapids and these lads are quite deadly with their bow and arrow. The arrow has a detatchable head that is held by string to enable the fish to be retrieved once shot.
The red male pacu is the main target and is comparable to a bream of between 4lb and 6lb.
This is another fish that makes good bait, known as a swordfish it is another fish that throws the hooks more often than not.
Adrian's first jau catfish taken in the wild water at the bottom of a falls in pouring rain. It weighed in at 59lb.
A couple of hours later he paired it up with this one of 61lb for a nice brace.
My best redtail catfish of the trip at 59lb.
Adrian went better with this one of 63lb-4oz.
This is part of a prospecting for gold operation. Only a small concern and they take the spoil from the bottom of one of the many gullies running off the mountains and was it through this equipment, and gold would fall though the tray at the top of the slope. They told us they had done no good but I would not expect them to admit if they had found some.
This was my first tiger shovelnose catfish at 17lb-8oz. Very nice colour pattern.
Lure fishing the fast water for peacock bass.
My reward for the effort.
This was the best of the peacocks caught by Ozey and weighing 9lb-8oz.
Sometimes quite atmospheric on the return to camp at night.
Adrians best redtail catfish at 65lb.
A 76lb jau catfish that came in the middle of yet another rainstorm, they don't call it a rain forest for nothing.
A toothy critter that came in to play.
With his eyes covered I could get close - uncovered you kept well away. :)
The bottom end of the King William falls, the lads took two boats up this so we could fish the pools there.
This group kept us alive and fed us over the whole stay. Three boat drivers with two lads that helped on the boat with dropping the anchor etc, one lad to help at the camp and he also caught most of the bait we needed. Then we had the two ladies who did the cooking. Highly recommended, and without fault.
The intrepid travels, left to right, Myself, Adrian Hancock, Nick Berridge and Joe Taylor.
My best fish of the trip and the largest jau catfish landed at 106lb. You can see a perfect circular bite mark from a piranah in the rear dorsal fin and damage to the tail.
Once above King William, Nick could not wait to pinch the cook's cooking dish to pan for gold. He mention he had seen a couple of specks and lost the tray to the guides and never saw it again. :)
Joe and Adrain with a perfect matching pair of jau catfish each weighing 63lb.
Lot of vultures are seen but mostly the black ones, this was different and the only time I saw this colour.
Adrian with a 58lb redtail catfish caught above King William Falls.
Probably the smallest jau catfish photographed in the wild.
My best tiger shovelnose at 19lb
The time came to leave and go back down the falls, some parts parts looked difficult, others like this downright hard.
For this section they let the boat down on ropes then at the last moment jumped in and drove it into the slack at the near side.
Falls like this come into the main stream at regular intervals making it quite scenic.
Apertiri Village. The time finally came to leave our camp and since we could not get all the way back to Kurupuri we would stop for a night at the local village some four or five hours below our camp site.
Joe and I used these sleeping quarters in the village, quite comfortable and secure.
The view from our bedroom on Spider Hill in the village. Some idea of scale is given by the guide just coming over the brow of the first rise between the two trees in the centre of the photo. You were puffing by the time you got the the top.
Spider Hill got its name from these friendly critters that shared the accommadation we slept in. :)
Finally one of the local cats - I wanted a shot of a jaguar but had to make do with this, we saw jaguar paw prints on a number of occasions but none of them.
Thanks must go to the team that looked after us and of course Navin L Rooparain who runs these trips through his Adventure Guianas company. A very helpful man that will enable you to plan your own adventure here.
Last but not least a big thank you to Joe who organises there trips and keeps them on track, not an easy job.