The fishing in Rewa, Guyana, is spectacular—you're hunting the biggest scaled freshwater fish in the world, and they are often in tiny ponds of just a few acres. When the Rupununi River floods, the arapaima thread their way back into the jungle to find the stillwaters where they prefer to feed, spawn, and raise their young. When the dry season comes, oxbows, side channels, and lagoons become disconnected from the main river. To get to the fish, a team of 12 or more boat handlers drags two or three 14-foot aluminum johnboats a mile or more through the jungle for a morning of fishing.
At lunch while the guests are eating, the boatmen drag the boats out of the jungle and move them to another pond for the afternoon.Why not just leave the boats at the pond? Because many of these ponds are fished only once per season, and the village cooperative has only a handful of boats provided by the nonprofit Indifly for this sport fishing venture. The guides are careful not to pressure these small waters that might only contain a handful of arapaima. From our base of operations at Sunburst Camp—a 3-hour boat ride from the village of Rewa—we fished a new pond every morning and every afternoon. You never see the same place twice when you're exploring the hidden honey holes of Guyana.
In this short clip (an excerpt from the film Rewa: Fishing for Change by Outside TV) Oliver White and I badly wanted to fish a remote spot called Tapir Pond that had not been visited in three years. Even with a team of haulers it was tough to get the boat through the dense underbrush. Oliver and I added some muscle to get the boats up a steep embankment, a location that also shows a dry flood channel and the likely pathway for arapaima that migrate during flood events. Barefoot was the only way to get any traction in the thick mud. Flip-flops were consumed by mud and shoes were even more useless.
For more info on arapaima fishing in Guyana, see my story "1 Guy with a Fly Rod" in the Oct-Dec 2017 issue of FLY FISHERMAN or watch the film by Outside TV we shot on location in March 2017.