Series 3 - Episode 5: Brazil

Episode 5: Brazil

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Robson Green embarks on more intrepid fishing adventures. The latest stop on his world tour is Brazil, home to the most famous river of all – the Amazon. Robson fishes for deadly piranhas, meets some over-friendly dolphins and sets out to catch the world’s biggest freshwater fish.

Robson’s journey into the unknown begins in the bustling jungle city of Manaus. At the early morning fish market, he spots an extraordinary variety of unusual fish, including the legendary pirarucu, the largest freshwater fish in the world. “If there is one fish I want to get from the Amazon, it’s this fellow here,” Robson says, marvelling at the giant animal. “He is the big daddy of the Amazonian basin.”

Before Robson heads deep into the jungle to track down the mighty pirarucu, he goes in search of a smaller yet much more deadly creature – the notorious black piranha. Balbina Lake was formed in the 1970s as part of a huge hydroelectric dam project. The lake is now home to thousands of vicious piranhas with teeth so sharp that they can bite through metal. Robson’s guide for this trip is local fisherman Tarzan, and Robson nervously checks that each of his guide’s fingers is intact before they set sail.

The next stop on Robson’s Brazilian tour is the Rio Negro, the world’s largest blackwater river and a major Amazon tributary. With the help of experienced fishing guide Mike Cartwright, Robson’s aim is to hook a peacock bass. The river is so low that all the fish have been forced to congregate together in one space, which should make easy pickings for the intrepid pair. However, Robson’s catch does not come as easy as he had hoped. After replacing the first fish he reels in because of its small size, the sun comes down and puts an end to the day’s angling.

After the previous day’s less than bountiful expedition, Mike and Robson head back onto the Rio Negro at dawn, determined to at least catch something for their lunch. Three frustrating hours later, Mike gets a bite and reels in a beautiful peacock bass. To celebrate, Robson leaps into the water to join the apparently friendly pink river dolphins as they feed. Unfortunately, the inquisitive creatures mistake the actor for their dinner. As a slightly traumatised Robson heads to land for his fish supper, he reflects on his first dolphin experience. “I didn’t like any part of that,” he admits. “I hated every second!”

For the final leg of the tour, Robson heads to the remote fishing community of Jaraua to achieve his ultimate goal – catching the famous ten-foot long pirarucu. His guides are local fisherman Fernando and his son, and they are under strict orders from Fernando’s wife to bring back some arowana fish. Robson is astonished by the sheer number of fish he spots in the water. After Fernando spreads his net across the entire river, some upstream helpers drive the fish downriver and into the net by beating the surface of the water. On the long journey home, Robson thinks he spots an elusive pirarucu, but the hunt for the giant must wait until the next day.

Early the following morning, Robson heads out in search of his new favourite fish with another local guide. The sheer size of the pirarucu and the tangled swamps mean that harpooning is the most practical way of catching the giant. The pirarucu is an air-breathing fish, so Robson plans to strike when one comes to the surface, but his first few attempts are an unqualified disaster. “Oh, I just missed it – by about 25 yards,” a frustrated Robson exclaims, much to the amusement of his guide. After seven long hours, the harpoon strikes a pirarucu, but the duo reel it in to find that the creature has wriggled free, leaving them with only a plate-sized scale for their efforts. Will Robson be forced to leave the Amazon empty-handed?



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