An area of Bolivia offering what’s being described as the best wild arapaima fishing in the world is being opened up to anglers for the first time.

The creation of new Arapaima Paradise Lodge is down to the tireless work of Steve Townson, a Brit who has fished the Amazon over 200 times and who works with destination travel specialists .

Bolivia, home of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is one of only two landlocked countries in South America and also boasts the highest capital city in the world, La Paz at over 12,000 feet above sea level.

The area Steve of untapped fishing in Bolivia Steve has been researching acts as the gateway to an area of dense rainforest where he has now located over 50 shallow lakes and lagoons that hold literally thousands of arapaima running to well over 300lb that have never been fished for.

However, finding such incredible fishing is one thing – opening it up so that others can fish there quite another. Steve has visited the area of rainforest several times, negotiating with the local Indian tribesman and stressing the need to look after this resource.

With the lodge now built, and the transfers and specialist skiffs and guides all now in place, is opening the destination up for the very first time to just eight anglers at a time, three times a year.

“Even though we are, as yet, still just scratching the surface, we have found over 50 untouched lakes, filled to the brim with massive Arapaima gigas in an Indian reservation, covering thousands of hectares in Bolivia’s Amazon jungle,” says Steve.

“We have been able to catch them on baits, lures and flies. There are so many there that you can see them drifting through the shallows and sight fish for them. There are so many bait-fish here, that the population of these leviathans here is astounding.

The water in these lakes is mostly tannin-stained or gin clear and a welcome consequence is that with a little help from your polarised sunglasses, many Arapaima can be seen either slowly moving through the shallows, occasionally rolling on the surface gulping air, or attacking shoals of baitfish.

It’s truly breath-taking fishing. Engines off, and with a strict of order of complete silence prevailing, the custom made skiffs drift quietly into the lagoons and are held in likely-looking spots by your native Indian guides.

Flies, lures or baits at the ready, you are waiting for one of them to reveal their presence, and direction of travel. These mighty fish are air breathers, and as they roll on the surface and take a gulp of O2, you have a split second to calculate their direction of travel, and cast your offering, as quietly as possibly, into their path.

Takes are like no other in angling. An arapaima engulfs its food by sucking a huge mouthful of water powerfully through its gills. The angler feels a powerful ‘thump’…. before line begins to pore off the spool.

This is no time to launch into the strike of a madman. Instead, with the circle hooks you are using, you give things a little time and then tighten up. The power and size and speed of the fish does the rest, with the hook ending up right in the scissors nine times out of ten.

Now you need to prepare yourself. Once an arapaima realises something is amiss, all hell will break loose. Despite its immense size, the fish will leap clear of the water, thrashing its huge head from side to side in a bid to throw the hook, before tearing off on a series of searing and back-breaking runs.

Once your guide knows you have a good hook hold, he will ‘up sticks’ (literally, as he will have been holding you in place Gondola style) and follow the fish, before making for a nearby beach to help you land it. operates a very strict catch and release policy and they are never brought up the bank and out of the water. They are too delicate. There is just about time to stand in the water supporting the great fish with your guide, before the giant is carefully nursed back into its natural environment.

“Not only did we find huge Arapaima and lots of them, but we also delved deep into the river system and located many large holes that hold the largest Jau catfish we have ever seen, including fish way over the current IGFA All Tackle World record, plus lots of the beautiful Surubim catfish, Dorada cats and much more,” added Steve.

“One of the great things about fishing any Amazon river is the incredible variety. Of course it’s the trophy fish that make all the headlines, but there are stacks of smaller fish too just to give you a pull, either with small baits, or smaller lures. Our trips have produced up to 28 different species and some of these can of course make excellent baits for the big, bruising, bottom-dwelling catfish, as well as giving you great pleasure.”

To find out more visit or contact Steve Townson direct at .

Arapaima Gigas
The mighty Arapaima or Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), is the ‘trophy’ fish everyone wants to catch in the wild in the Amazon. And indications are that you are guaranteed to hook plenty of them at this stunning new Bolivian fishing destination. The fish, which can grow to over 500lb and can reliably be caught here to over 200lb, lurks in the many shallow, tranquil ponds, lagoons and lakes. This beautiful, scaled predator is prehistoric in every sense. But like so many huge predatory fish, it’s an incredibly delicate species for its size at the same time.