Golden Dorado in the Jungle

A photograph of a man standing in a large river flowing through the jungle while fighting a Golden Dorado fish that is jumping in the foreground.

The tiny four seater plane banks hard and sweeps down towards the small grass airstrip cut out of the rainforest. The bright green of the runway is the only open ground for miles and miles in the solid undulating mat of trees. The smell of the jungle is pervasive – humid, thick, laced with the smells of rotting leaves and flowers.

Down on the river, the mud motor on the back of the large wooden canoe puts a welcome breeze in our faces. These canoes are the only mode of transportation and the river our only road for the seven days ahead.   

A photograph of a man in the front of a large primitive canoe holding a wooden push pole with a river in the background.
A close up photograph of a Golden Dorado with a fly in its mouth.
A photograph of a fly rod with a fly tied onto the line and a river in the background.

Rigged up and on the river, it takes a minute to get into the swing of fishing for Golden Dorado. It is a high speed, high impact, physical style of fly fishing - in the best sense. When a big Dorado (for me that is anything in the 10+ pound class) decides to eat a fly, it is usually exceptionally fast and violent. With a razor sharp row of cutting teeth and a very hard, bony mouth, a firm strip set is a must. As soon as you set, they will usually be airborne within a second or two, and if there is a log jam around, get ready to put the brakes on hard. The fact that they love to hunt in schools and try to eat things (including flies) out of each other's mouths or just try to eat each other when one is distracted with a meal, makes for an exciting day on the water.

A photograph of three men in a large wooden canoe that is on a large river in the jungle.
A photograph of two men on a riverbank in the jungle, one is holding up a fly for inspection.

As I work upstream through a section of fast water, I come to a beautiful deep pool that has a side channel tributary feeding it from the right. I creep slowly, keeping my feet out of the water and staying low, looking, looking… I throw a few casts into the area where the tributary comes into the pool in front of me, stripping the streamer fast. Nothing. Then I see him, slowly swimming loops on the other side of the fast water. The fish is suspended high in the water and looks relaxed, it’s go-time. I carefully sort out my running line, make sure it is not tangled on any rocks or sticks and begin working out some line. Two false casts and I drop the fly a foot in front of the fish, stripping as soon as it touches liquid. With one tail kick the fish eats the fly; the pool explodes as the fish launches into the air, all gold and stripes, head thrashing in the afternoon sun. After a few more jumps and short explosive runs, I tail the fish in the shallows and marvel at its proportions. Larger Dorado have heads that are about as wide as they are tall, the strength and bulk of them compared to trout is stunning.

A man in a jungle river holding a large golden dorado.

Back at the lodge, I sip a cold gin and tonic and chat enthusiastically with our group about their day. Broken 40lb flouro leaders, fish missed, fish jumped off, fish landed... One thing is for sure, there are very few days fishing in the jungle that are a snooze. 

Stay tuned for Parts II and III on our recent trip to Tsimane Lodges in Bolivia. For information on this location email us at: or book directly:

A photograph of many butterflies on a sandy river bank.
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