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Ilha Grande, Amazonas Brazil
By Jen and Brian Daley
Jun 28, 2005, 07:11

When traveling up the Amazon River, you see island after island, most too small to have names.  In the rainy season when the wide river rises over its banks everything seems like an island.  Houses on stilts are seemingly built in the middle of the river.  The forest floor vanishes under the dark water and trees rise up from unknown depths in dark liquid.  The trunks look like stilts built to keep the leaves out of the river.

Ilha Grande is aptly named as it is a large island in the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon flowing out of Colombia.  Brian and I visited there just a few weeks ago, at the tail end of the rainy season when the water is just below the high mark left on the tree trunks. At the time, it was less like an island and more like a flooded forest that we had gained access to.  We knew there was solid ground somewhere below the water because we were surrounded by trees but we could not see it because the water was as black as night due to the rotting vegetation in them, hence the name Rio Negro.

We had cruised out to Ilha Grande with a small group from our Jungle Lodge to spend the morning fishing for Piranha.  The flooded forests make for excellent fishing grounds as the Piranha love to hang out around the trunks and within the roots waiting for unsuspecting prey. 

Piranha fishing is really quite simple.  Take a stick, tie some fishing line to it, add a very sharp hook and slap on a small piece of raw meat and toss it in.  In no time, they will be ripping at the piece of meat with their razor sharp teeth.  They are sneaky and do manage to get quite a bit of meat without even tugging on the line, but when they do, a sharp tug to the line to lodge the hook and a quick retrieval and they should come flapping out of the water. 

While I unfortunately, didnít make my tugs sharp enough to get the biters on board, it was a stellar day for the men aboard our little canoe.  It short time, Brian pulled out 2 big, angry, teethy fish.  These alone would have been enough to feed Brian and me, but our canoe driver, Noel wanted to be sure everyone on the boat was fed and perhaps everyone staying at the lodge as well.  He pulled piranha after piranha out of the water much to the amazement of all on board. Even more amazing was that each one that came out was bigger than the last and each was met with the consensus that ďthat is the biggest piranha Iíve ever seenĒ.   In the end we had about 25 unlucky fish flapping around at the bottom of the canoe (watch your toes, those teeth are sharp!).

We meandered our way back to the lodge and celebrated the catch with a victory lunch of rice, beans, salad and fresh grilled piranha, which I would have to say was the one of best meals I had while I was in Brazil and we had some pretty good ones.

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