This time of year I do more armchair fishing than any other kind. Thanks to cyberspace, I enjoy vicarious treks to the tropics, where I can fish without breaking a sweat or worrying about malaria or venomous snakes. I also like not spending money, not having to be vaccinated and not having to sit in airports and airplanes for hours. An armchair, a computer connected to the Internet, and I'm on my way.
I like to know about the fish I'll be catching, so I first "Google" a species that interests me. After reading up on my prey, I watch a few YouTube videos of people fishing for it. Finally, I look around in cyberspace for a good place to fish.
This week I sat down and targeted big fish in rivers, my favorite place to wait for a bite. I first focussed on the dorado (Salminus brasiliensis), sometimes called golden dorado. Despite its scientific name, the dorado is not related to salmon, nor is it related to the dolphinfish, or mahi-mahi, which in some places is called dorado.
Unlike salmon, the dorado spends its entire life in fresh water. It looks somewhat like a salmon, but acts more like a bluefish or barracuda: fast, strong and fiercely aggressive. Imagine a gold-colored 20-pound steelhead on steroids. It's the stuff of anglers' dreams. The IGFA All-Tackle World Record dorado was caught on the Uruguay River in Concordia, Argentina in 2006. It weighed 55 pounds, 11 ounces.
My imagination next took me to Dorado Lodge in the Salta Province of Argentina to fly fish for dorado. I could've found them in Brazil, Uruguay or Colombia, but I've always wanted to see Argentina. This lodge offers anglers two choices. One is to float the medium-sized Rio Juramento, "proved to be the best and most reliable Dorado river in the world," says the lodge's Web site. The other choice is to wade either the Rio Tucanes or Rio Dorado, both spring creeks. What hooked me was this: "When you arrive to Rio Tucanes you'll be amazed at its beauty and your first impression is that this is the perfect trout stream, but actually holds Dorado up to 20 lbs." I could just imagine a 20-pounder boiling up from out of a deep hole to eat my fly, and me holding an 8-weight fly rod and feeling very much under-gunned.
From there I shifted my attention to the barramundi (Lates calcarifer). Barramundi are found from northern Australia to the Philippines and southern China and along India's coast to the Persian Gulf. Equipped with pinkish-red eyes that glow in the dark, they eat like pigs and fight like tigers. The IGFA All-Tackle World Record barramundi was caught on Lake Monduran, Queensland, Austalia, in 2010. It weighed 98 pounds, 6 ounces.
One of the best things about armchair fishing is that the fishing doesn't actually have to be good. In real fishing, the weather can be surly, the run dismal and the river out of shape -- a disaster. On the other hand, when the fishing exists only in your head, you have only to believe that everything will be perfect, and it is.
Les Palmer can be reached at email@example.com.