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Peacock Bass Addiction

"Peacock Bass euphoria is when your adrenalin and your mind are working overtime attempting to compensate for your physical strength and endurance which are shot."--Larry Larsen, 1999

AddictionMy arms were shaking so hard I had to lay my rod down.  My chest was heaving as I grasped at short breaths.  Sweat poured from my brow and every other part of my body, and I felt faint from the jubilation.  I had just become addicted.  The 16-pounder lay at my feet with the small red and white Jerkin' Sam securely affixed to its jaw.  After a couple of hundred small to mid-size peacock bass, I had finally captured a "teener". One that was truly a monster. A giant.  A behemoth.  Such monikers pale with the experience of controlling and capturing such a fish.

Glee turned to an uncontrollable laugh as I reached for a can of coke.  My guide, a small Indian with dark eyes and few teeth, smiled.  He knew the symptoms.  He had guided gringos to the euphoric state before.

I had to have more.  I regained as much composure as I could and started tossing my bait again to the flooded forest with reckless abandon.  My first cast back to the vicinity of my big fish strike tangled in a fallen tree. I popped it free, and the guide ducked as my lure slammed into the side of our aluminum boat.  My second, adrenaline-induced effort was off target as well, wrapping around a tree limb about 20 feet above my newly found honey hole.

It was a sign, I felt, to just slow down.  I had to keep the adrenalin in check if I was to assume my normally very accurate casting and effective fishing.  I did slow down that afternoon, but fishing for giant peacock bass was in my blood, forever. It was flowing in my veins through my heart.

There were no more giants for me that week on Lake Guri, only countless numbers of fish 3 to 11 pounds.  But this was only my second trip to South America to experience the hardest hitting, fiercest-fighting fish in the world .  I had to have more.  I could not live without it.  I was addicted to this South American siren, and today, I realize there is little I can do about it.

PeacockJim Chapralis, former Editor of The PanAngler newsletter, calls us "obsessed", willing to fish dangerous areas and endure numerous hardships for a shot at a giant peacock bass.  I contend that is not an obsession but an addiction.

In fact, Chapralis calls the growing number of dedicated fishermen who fish South America's jungles for peacock bass "a developing cult".  For many, he says, it's "a way of life."  I can't argue that, but it is more.  It is not simply dedication; it's addiction.

It is an uncontrollable craving which develops into a psychological dependence for catching giant peacock bass. The angler acquires greater tolerance for the fish and therefore requires more and more trips in search of peacock action.  Should this supply ever be cut off, the angler will suffer extreme "withdrawal" symptoms which are psychologically grueling.

Finding a living peacock bass addict who no longer chases his quarry is almost impossible.  Therefore, help from a "recovered" individual in controlling an addict is hard to find.  Peacock bass addicts passing along their stories is what gets newcomers in similar straits.  Intervention through friends or relatives may help, but certainly only the individual can determine whether or not he or she is addicted and whether they can "recover."

For much more on the "addiction" check out book 3 in my series on Peacock Bass, "Peacock Bass Addiction."

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