I’ve now been to Brazil four times – once to Rio when I was a teenager, and three times into two different sections of the Amazon Basin over the past decade. This last trip into the Mato Grosso state was by far the most remote. We were a 2 ½ hour plane ride (to a dirt landing strip) away from the city of Manaus.
I ordered a book from Amazon last week, which is not unusual because I try to read two books every month, but rarely have I anticipated one quite this much. In fact, I don’t think any Robbins family member has been so excited for a new volume since my 9-year-old nephew wore his full Gryffindor suit for a month while waiting for the 872nd Harry Potter book to come out.
In March of 2016, Kevin Hawk wrote a column for the Inside Line titled, “A Difficult Decision.” Less than six years earlier he’d stood atop the fishing world, hoisting a Happy Gilmore check at Lake Lanier to celebrate his victory in the Forrest Wood Cup. He went on to have a solid-but-not-exceptional career on the FLW Tour, and then in the Bassmaster Opens before qualifying to fish the Elites starting with the 2013 season.
The past two times I fished in Brazil, I was told to use nothing less than 65-pound braid. I brought several reels spooled up that way, but a couple with 50 as well, and found myself gravitating to the “lighter” line. It casts and handles better, and as long as your knots are good I’ve never had much problem using it for fish in the 10- to 20-pound range.
Lately I’ve been writing frequently about bucket list destinations and experiences, typically equating those desires with faraway locales. Indeed, the more you experience new environs, the more you crave wilder, more remote, more breathtaking locales, and big, new, stronger, rarer fish. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to catch arapaima on swimbaits, or char in the Arctic Circle, but the idea that to be a great trip something has to be expensive or distant is patently false. There are plenty of options for most of us that are within a day’s (or a few hours’) drive and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
I am scheduled to go fishing in the Amazon next week. As you may have seen on the news, large swaths of the Amazon are on fire. Of course, that’s kind of like saying “the United States is on fire.” You wouldn’t cancel a trip to Florida just because the Bronx was burning, would you? The Amazon is a big place, and my understanding is that the nearest fires are still several hundred miles from where I’m going.
I’ve been to many but not most of the top tournament bass fisheries in the United States – from Okeechobee to Guntersville to Rayburn/Fork/Toledo/Falcon to the Cal Delta to Table Rock and on and on and on. Nevertheless, there are several that I’ve inexplicably missed. For at least a decade I’ve wanted to fish both Clear Lake and Champlain, and nothing has really prevented me from going except too many other options. Champlain has been on the list so long that its spot at the top of the eastern “want list” has been usurped by the Thousand Islands.
Georgia pro Micah Frazier claimed his first tour-level win this past weekend on New York’s St. Lawrence River, coming back from 10th after Saturday to claim the crown. Fish fans might’ve been surprised by the location of his first big victory, but anyone who’s been following his career for a while probably knew it was coming. He’s fished three of the last four Bassmaster Classics and barring an epic collapse will fish another one at Guntersville in March.
I owe an apology to the women of Alaska. Heading into my recent trip, I figured that in the most distant and different state, gender roles would be remarkably separated and antiquated. In fact, my experience turned out to be exactly the opposite of that – the women up there are not only every bit as capable as the men, but they have the same frontier spirit and can-do-it (must-do-it?) attitude.