Size is one thing, but it’s the power and the fight that draws fishermen to seek out the peacock bass for a duel to the end. The outcome is never certain, as these aggressive fish are so powerful fishermen tell stories of broken tackle, of heavy hooks straightened and rods shattered.
To land one of these monsters requires strength, patience, endurance, a little luck and a lot of skill. In the battle that ensued between bass and Letzig, Frazer Letzig of Richmond emerged as the tired, but triumphant winner when he finally pulled the 32.5–inch 22-pound trophy into the boat from the Rio Unini, a river in Brazil.
As Frazer knew, the fish was large enough to enter in the 1st World Trophy Peacock Bass Contest and of the 38 eligible entries, Letzig’s 22-pounder surfaced in a three-way tie for first place.
The process involved waiting for the end of the nine-month competition, lasting from Sept. 1, 2006-Mar. 31, 2007. It was open to all Peacock Bass Association members in good standing. Peacock bass caught in ‘all world waters’ and larger than 13 pounds were eligible.
On Feb. 15, 2007, Frazer was notified that he had become a member of the PeacockBassTrips.com Monster Club. One of the requirements for this acknowledgement was that the fish had to weigh a minimum of 20 pounds. Since the peacock bass is prized for its fighting abilities, to land the monster is an exciting and most satisfying achievement. It is something many fishermen dream of and entrance into this classification is respected.
The peacock bass is a colorful, tropical, freshwater fish that inhabits the Amazon River basin of South America. Six known species of peacock bass have been recognized, however, there may be as many as 12 species. This fish is not a true bass, however. Though it resembles a largemouth bass in its general size and shape, it is a cichlid and can grow up to just over three feet in length and weigh as much as 27 pounds. They are known for their aggressive hunting style. Their name is derived from the large spot, resembling the eye of a peacock feather, on the tail fin.
According to activeangler.com, “the real giants of the species live in remote back-water lagoons off major tributaries in the Amazon drainage of Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia, but other countries, such as Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia all have waters that contribute to the massive Amazon watershed which abounds with peacock bass.” They can also be found in the waters of the Dominican Republic, Singapore, Malaysia, Panama, Costa Rica, and in some regions of the U.S. such as Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Frazer contacted Larry Larsen, executive director of the PBA, about the experience, “Larry, on my December trip, I was fishing with a first timer. It was tough fishing, due to high and slowly dropping water. I was able to show my partner that casting behind a hooked fish had a good chance of catching another and often larger fish. This worked on two small fish early on, but two days later it worked even better. The fish weren’t hitting topwater, so I changed over to a blue/pink sinking Yozuri Crystal Minnow while my partner threw a Banjo Minnow. Our guide, Sandro, positioned us near a small nook at the edge of the River Preto. Well, I was in the back of the boat and kept casting behind my partner. I had a good fish on, but it got off. I was disgusted and commented, “Well, I guess he got a taste of that hook!” I then waited for my partner to cast the Banjo, watched him slowly bring it in a little, and then I cast behind it again. That’s where I got a hit, then I got THE HIT! It turned out to be my first 20-pounder, weighing 22 pounds even. What a thrill! I was lucky to get it in. Thanks go to my guide on the American Cutter, and to you for helping me catch two 18-pounders one day using that very technique on a prior trip. I hope this info helps other PBA members who may not be aware. Thanks.”
Larsen said the gamefish, “almost always jumps the second it is hooked, and after a head-shaking leap or two, makes an incredible run.” The rush is so exciting, fishermen usually return many times hoping for a bigger catch, though they always have a bigger fish story.
It was in April 2007 that Frazer learned his 22-pounder was in a three-way tie for first place in the contest. Among the prizes was a “wild card” replica of his monster by Great Fish Reproduction Studio. The beautiful fish, with its wide, vertical stripes and colorful tail fin “eye” has many colors throughout its body and makes for an impressive mount.
You can stop by Frazer’s office at 113 West Main Street in Richmond to see his trophy, which arrived in September, and it just may be possible to extract a story or two about his trip.
Photo: Frazer Letzig holds up a 22-pound peacock bass that he caught from the Rio Unini River in Brazil, Dec. 31, 2006 (Submitted photo)