The Amazon River Basin Catfish

Discussion in 'SOUTH AMERICAN CATFISH' started by wolfman, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    Walter Flack
    I did some surfing around the net and put together some information on some of the most popular catfish from the Amazon. Please correct me if the information is inaccurate.
     
  2. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    Amazon Catfish Species

    Of the almost 1000 species of Amazon catfish, there are at least twenty (20) that are regularly targeted by the local fishermen for sport and/or food. Our research has been concentrated among this relatively small percentage of the Amazon Siluriformes, but that doesn't mean you can't, or won't, catch something not listed here. The Amazon is full of surprises. It is possible to catch a fish that hasn't even been cataloged yet. Then other fishermen will follow trying to catch that world record Pseudoplatysoma "yourname"-us !!! The following are some selected species of Amazon catfish that international fishermen might care to pursue.


    Pirarara (Phractocephalus hemoliopkrus)
    The pirarara, also known by the English name of Red Tailed Catfish, is considered by many to be the prettiest catfish in existence. Its chocolate brown back gives way to a yellowish white on the flanks that fades to a white underbelly and is accented by orange red pectoral fins and tail. The translation of the Tupi-Guarani name (pira + arara) is literally "Macaw fish" because of its bright coloration. These colorful cats can reach almost 5 feet in length and 125 lbs in weight. Current IGFA record stands at 97 lbs.
    Pirararas frequent the deep holes like the piraíbas, but they are also found near the banks of large rivers just downstream of the mouth of smaller rivers, creeks and lagoons. Again like the piraíba, fishing times are best in early morning and late afternoon, but pirararas can often also be found during the hottest part of the day (noon-2:00 p.m.) along the sandy beaches of the larger rivers. Heavy-duty tackle is also called for when seeking these beauties, which often put up a vigorous and prolonged fight. Small whole fish baits such as piranha, jaraqui, sardinha and other regional fish are preferred, although cut bait can be used in areas where piranha aren't found. Braids of 50 to 80 LB test and monofilament of 30 LB test are recommended lines with hooks from 5/0 to 8/0 and larger being used. A characteristic of this fish that often surprises the first time pirarara angler is the loud grunts it emits when landed.
     

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  3. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    Walter Flack
    well, i hope these turn out ok
     

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  4. Phil Washburn

    Phil Washburn New Member

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    i have done some reading on those also, wolfman, and that redtail cat looks like a blast. it would be a trip of a lifetime to spend a month or 2 fishing the amazon
     
  5. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    The piraíba, also known as "lau lau" or "valentón", has a dark grayish back and sides with a white underbelly. It can reach a length of almost 10 feet and surpass 650 lbs in weight. The current record is 256 lbs on rod and reel, but larger specimens have been caught commercially. The name, piraíba, translates from the Tupi-Guarani language to mean, "mother fish" and this giant could very well be the "mother of all fish." The fry of the piraíba carries a separate name in Amazonia, filhote, and it is considered a fry until it surpasses 110 lbs!!! Heavy-duty gear and a prolonged, brutal fight are required to land one of these monsters. The local manner of fishing for these brutes is to put a beef heart on a large hook tied with nylon rope to a jug float and follow it with a flotilla of canoes, sometimes chumming with fresh blood. Once a big one is hooked the nylon rope is secured to one of the canoes until the piraíba can be worn down enough to beach the behemoth.
    Heavy duty tackle suitable for big salt water species is preferred spooled with 130 lb. line and using hooks from 10/0 and larger with a steel leader (a steel leader is a good option for all of the Amazon cats due to piranhas whizzing about the bait. Amazon cats don't have the sensitive mouths of their North American cousins and are not spooked by steel leaders - or much anything else). The bait and sinker combined should weight at least 1 lb. and can go up to 10 or 12 lbs. when going after the real monsters. Whole fish baits from the region in which you are fishing are preferred, and live ones are even better. Other than fish and beef hearts, locals also use chicken heads for bait.
    These big cats frequent the deep holes in large rivers, particularly near the confluence of two rivers, or opposite the mouth of smaller rivers, creeks, or lagoons, that empty into a larger river. The best fishing is from dawn until about 9 a.m. hours and from late afternoon until just after nightfall. When you hook into one of these brutes, you will feel a hard and steady pull as the piraíba starts his run. To keep from getting spooled, the guide should immediately start up the outboard and follow the fish as you try to wear him down. Minimum size that can legally be kept is 120 cm (about 48 inches). .
     

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  6. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    Walter Flack
    More pictures of the Piraiba Catfish
     

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  7. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    The suribims resemble the North American flatheads with a long flattened head. They have a dark gray back and upper flanks, which fade to a white underbelly. Many of these suribims have a distinctive black marking on their back and upper flanks, which depending on the pattern gives rise to their common names of tiger suribim, spotted suribim, pintado (Portuguese for painted) or bagre rayado. There are at least 8 to 10 of the suribims that are caught by sport fishermen in the Amazon. The largest of these can reach almost 6 feet in length and 180 lbs in weight. For many of the suribims, lGFA line class records are totally open.
    Suribims frequent the same habitat as the red tailed catfish, including the beaches in the heat of midday. Tackle should also be equal to that used for the pirararas, however many of the smaller suribims are caught on lures when fishing for Peacock Bass. Suribims are among the most sporting of the catfishes often striking a top water lure, or even a fly!!! However, the most productive artificial baits for suribims are mid-water jerk baits, such as the Bomber Long-A, Cordell Red Fin or Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, and spoons, anything flashy seems to work. For the natural baits, small whole fish, typical of the region you are fishing, on 7/0 to 14/0 mustad hooks and a steel leader are recommended. Minimum legal size is 80cm (about 30 in). Many of the suribims are favored by locals for their tasty flesh.
    When a suribim takes your bait, you will often feel a series of two or three slow but firm pulls on the line followed by a slow but steady run. It is after this run begins that you should set the hook...hard. Many local fishermen believe that the suribim "mouths" the bait before really taking it, but others think the slow firm initial pulls are a result of the suribim moving its head from side to side in search of more food before moving on. Whichever explanation is correct, the sound tactic is to wait until the run starts before setting the hook. After the hook has been set, a suribim will give you a good fight. You must work hard to keep him from getting into structure along the river banks where he can entangle your line and break free. They will also often spin, or roll, wrapping your line around their body as they struggle to free themselves. Suribim are schooling fish and when you catch one you can also often catch several.
    A smaller cousin of the suribims worth mentioning is the bico-de-pato (literally duck bill), scientific name sorubim lima. This fish is also known by its Tupi-Guarani name of jurupencem (or jurupesen), which means cracked mouth. Growing to about 18 inches in length and rarely exceeding 12 lbs, the bico-de-pato has the typical suribim profile with a peculiar shaped mouth that is aptly described by its common name. They are rather aggressive feeders and can often be seen chasing small baitfish to the surface and even following them into the air in a feeding frenzy. When hooked these smaller suribims make short fast runs but their relatively smaller size makes them a lightweight in the fight class when compared to their larger cousins. But beware if you land one, they have just begun to fight.!! Bico-de-pato can maneuver their barbed poisonous pectoral and dorsal fin spikes into position to strike the hand of unsuspecting anglers much like a scorpion's tail. What follows is a severe, incapacitating burning pain that lasts for several hours.
    Another interesting suribim cousin is the Jurupoca (Hemisorubim plathyrhyncos). It resembles the others of the suribim family except that its head is turned to the side. It grows to 3 feet and can attain weight of about 25 lbs. Frequenting the deep water at the confluences of rivers and near the mouths of lagoons, the jurupoca can be caught with deep water jerk baits, crank baits or spoons. If using natural baits, the smaller fish of the region such as sardinha on 2/0 to 6/0 hooks is preferred. Fish filets and cut bait can also be used if piranha are not prevalent in the area. Not a particularly hard fighter, but worth a try just to get a look at this unusual and endangered fish (so please release any you catch).
     

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  8. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    The giant migratory Jaús frequent deep holes in many rivers of the Amazon basin. They prefer holes formed behind large rocks and can often be found at the rocky bases of rapids and cataracts. Their coloration can vary from a yellow brown to grayish green to black depending on the water they are found in. They have large broad heads and can exceed 5 feet in length and over 225 lbs. In weight. They are a popular sport fish with the locals, because they can be fished for in some gorgeous surroundings while wading near the base of small waterfalls and rapids. Medium heavy tackle should be used with lines of 30 lbs (mono) to 50 lbs+ (braids) and hooks of 8/0 to 10/0 and up. A steel leader is recommended. Whole smaller fish typical of the region are the preferred bait, but cut bait can be used if there are no piranha present. Jaú are known for hard prolonged fights, much like those of the pirararas. The minimum legal size that can be kept is 90 cm (about 32 inches).
    Some smaller catfish related to the Jaú that are equally popular sporting fish are the piranambú (Pinarampus pinirampu), piramutaba (Brachyplatystoma vaillantii) and bandeira (Goslina platynema). These species can be found in many of the same areas as the Jaú.
     

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  9. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    The dourada gets its common name from the golden like color (almost a mica appearance in spots) over a large portion of its body. The remainder is a grayish white color. The dourada can reach 5 feet in length and surpass 90 lbs. in weight. In some areas it is the most common of the catfishes, while in others its tasty flesh have made it a target for commercial fishermen who sadly have depleted its numbers drastically. The dourada prefers stretches of large rivers with light current and can be caught using medium heavy tackle with cut bait or small regional whole fish on 5/0 to 10/0 hooks. Minimum size that can legally be kept is 120 cm (about 48 inches).
     

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  10. C_wernett

    C_wernett New Member

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    Very good amount of information here...there are a couple of things on the sorubims that I'd like to mention. The sorubim as most people know is a realated species of Brachyplatystoma, and come in what people consider two forms, the "striped" and "spotted"...if you look at the pictures, all are correct except the first one which portray Psuedoplatystoma fasciatum, what in English is referred to as the Tiger Shovelnose catfish, which for all intensive purposes has another subspecies which I can't remember off the top of my head. In all acuality, Sorubim cats, are classified as a single species, Sorubim lima, the Lima shovelnose which only gets a little over a foot long in most instances.

    The Jau information is hard to find stuff! This species is synonomous with the root form Zungaro zungaro. I wish I could find some useable pictures that show the distinct mottling and HUGE heads on these things!

    Also, there is a bit of confusion as to what the Paraiba is classified. Depending on where you catch one, it could be one of three of the six subspecies of Brachyplatystoma. Either B.filamentosum, B.platynemum, or the true giant B. rousseauxii. Actually I noticed that a couple of the Jau pictures were actually B. vaillantii, instead of Paulicea lutkeni. Not the more silver body, evenly paired adipose and dorsal fins and more tapered head. B. vaillantii doesn't have a head quite as depressed and elongate as onther members of Brachyplatystoma.

    Wolfman, I think we need to put together a "BOC Catfish Exploration Team", or BOCCET for short! I've noticed that here are a lot of mislabelled pictures out there on the web. We should get some funding and do our own research, and get some of the photos right me thinks!!! :)
     
  11. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

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    9,081
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    Walter Flack
    Thanx for the corrections, im no expert ,just been surfing around the web and reading.
     
  12. C_wernett

    C_wernett New Member

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    I'm no expert either...but realize, that experts weren't born experts. Like yourself and I, we gotta do the research and learn too! Keep it up!
     
  13. delawareriver

    delawareriver Member

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    813
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    bath pa
    good source, i know these fish because im involved with aquriums and love huge fish (even though i dont have any fish over 2 inchs) i talk on message bourds with people who keep some of these cats like the redtail and the shovel noses. nice to get some information on them! keep it up!
     
  14. uptoolate

    uptoolate New Member

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    Yes excellent info, thanks.
     
  15. greg

    greg USCA - STAFF Staff Member Supporting Member

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    lots of good info there guys makes a person wish he could live there and just fish everyday :smile2:
     
  16. RpR

    RpR New Member

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    Does anyone know of which of the Amazon catfish have, according to a non-wives tale I read some years back, taken small children?
    Bob
     
  17. peder

    peder New Member

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    I need to start saving some money for a trip of a lifetime.
     
  18. mkman

    mkman New Member

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    paulicea lutkeni has been renamed zungaro zungaro. Also know as the Jau catfish

    brachyplatystoma filamentosum is also know as lau lau or piraiba. I believe they also call it the giant dourado or something like that.

    As for size, here is how they rank, top being the biggest

    1. B. filamentosum
    2. B. rousseauxii
    3. Zungaro zungaro or paulicea lutkeni
     
  19. slimdaddy

    slimdaddy Well-Known Member

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    Keith
    pretty interesting post
     
  20. South Grand Laker

    South Grand Laker New Member

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    i'd be half scared fishin in those little boats on the river like they do down there