Bags of Sand

If you want to get a tournament angler excited, show him hydrilla, standing timber or big boulders.

They’ll gush over brush.

They’ll go cuckoo for coontail.

They’ll act ape crap for riprap.


But if you want to see an outfitter go completely nuts in the Amazon, sand is the way to go.

I learned this in 2012, as we headed up the Rio Negro in a float plane and my friend Steve Yatomi started jumping up and down. Steve is not a small man, and the flying tin can was not only packed to the gills with a herd of gringos, but also with enough pineapple, vegetables and Brahma beer to last a week.

“Sand bars,” he yelled giddily, knowing that was the sign of good water levels for peacock bass.

Other than indicating low water, I’ve heard that the striated sand provides hiding places to avoid the sonar of the hungry freshwater dolphins. I don’t know if it’s true, but I can say that on that 2012 trip we caught the snot out of them, on sandbars and elsewhere.

Seven years later, in a slightly larger plane, Billy Chapman Jr. – who like Yatomi is not a small man – went crazy as he saw the dazzling sand formations on the river below us. We were headed in the other direction from the city of Manaus, but I guess that north or south sand is a harbinger of good things to come. While this river did not have the large peacocks of the northern region, we still caught plenty of big wolf fish and smaller peacocks around the drop-offs and ridges formed by the sand.

Don’t sleep on sand.