TRAVEL: Typically, international flights land in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in the morning. After clearing customs, guests are transferred to a private charter at the domestic airport. Proof of yellow fever vaccination, as well as a travel visa, is required to enter the country.
GEAR: Think permit fishing, and you’ll be set. Stiff 9- and 10-weight rods capable of turning over big flies are a must. Large-arbor reels with sound drags and floating lines are used almost exclusively, but a 300- to 400-grain sink-tip comes in handy. Wading here is not challenging, and standard flats-style boots work great.
FLIES: Go big or go home! While smaller fish eat just about anything, the largest payara are interested in full-bodied flies longer than eight inches. For better success, fish flies with tandem hooks connected with 40-pound wire. We loved the Indian Ocean Mackerel and Super Mushies, as well as Puglisie’s Peanut Butters and big-game flies. The best colors were black and purple, but bright flies with ample flash worked great as well. Take regular Clouser- and Deceiver-style flies for catfish, corbina, piranha and peacock bass.
ACCOMMODATION/COMMUNICATION: Caño Negro Lodge is spartan, yet clean and comfortable. While the lodge does not offer five-star accommodations, the food was well prepared and tasty, the showers were warm and the rooms were plenty big. During our visit, there was no Internet or television, and the only connection with the outside world was via satellite phone. This remote lodge is six hours by boat from the closest village. For more information call J. W. Smith at 800-211-4753, or visit his Web site at www.flyfishingbolivia.com
BUGS and DISEASE: Anywhere in the Bolivian jungle can be, well, buggy. While the occasional mosquito and horsefly proved irritating, they were few and far between. The no-see-ums were downright nasty. Protect yourself by covering up with Buffs for the neck and face, sun gloves for the hands, long-sleeve shirts, and pants soaked in permethrin. Malaria, yellow fever, Leishmaniasis and other tropical diseases have not been a problem at the lodge.
SEASON/WEATHER: Caño Negro Lodge is open from May to early November, corresponding with the dry season. On either end of the season, hope for tropical storms. Most days see temperatures in the 90s with typical jungle humidity, making a midday siesta a welcome break.