Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fishing the Amazon? There's an App for That


Since I began writing for guidebooks in the late 1980s, I have focused on the area known as the Southern Cone for its shape on the map of South America. It includes Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, parts of Brazil and the Falkland Islands, but I’ve always retained an interest in the rest of the continent and other parts of the Americas. Though my experience in the Caribbean is limited to Trinidad, I have traveled in every South American country except Venezuela, and in every Central American except Belize (which unfortunately refused my Argentine wife entry for lack of a visa) and Panama (though I have changed planes there en route to South America).

In the course of my professional life, I’ve worked mostly with print media, and I still feel most comfortable with traditional guidebooks. That said, I’ve produced my own apps to Argentina and Chile (please refer to the ads in the sidebar) and, in the course of maintaining my interests in the rest of the region, I’ve tried to keep up with other developments in the field. Today I’ll bring one of those to your attention.

Fish Amazon
Nearly four decades ago, I first visited the Amazon Basin on a backpack trip through Ecuador, when I rode a dugout canoe down the Río Napo. Since then I’ve been briefly to the Brazilian Amazon, but do not fancy myself an expert on the area, nor am I a fisherman (though fly-fishing is important in the lakes district of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, and a few other areas in those countries), but I do eat fish.

Once, in response to charges that he was not a musician, a rock critic asked rhetorically whether “You gotta play guitar to know how to buy records?” While I may not be a fisherman, I like to eat fish and, for that reason, I enjoyed looking through Larry Larsen’s Fish Amazon (link goes to iTunes; also available in Android version), since his knowledge of natural history seems to match his love of fishing. From my point of view, I also found it useful because many of the same fish species inhabit the River Plate drainage, where they can be found on the grills of restaurants along the Paraná and Uruguay rivers in Argentina and Uruguay.
According to Larsen, in an email he sent me recently, “The peacock bass (tucunare) are very small in the Paraná but the suribim (“shovelnose catfish,” pictured above, photo under Creative Commons license) and piranha are very large (30 pounds and much more, and four to five pounds, respectively). Payara, jacunda, trieda, red-tail catfish, pacú (“pigfish”) and the others are in there in relatively large sizes as well.” I don’t know all of these species by their Portuguese common names, but I am familiar with the surubí (as it’s called in Spanish) and pacú.

Not so long ago, the Buenos Aires restaurant Jangada specialized in grilled river fish but, unfortunately, it has closed. Close to my apartment in Palermo, though, diners can still sample pacú and occasional other options at Nemo, which serves mostly seafood. Visitors to the city of Santa Fe, however, will find a much wider selection at El Quincho de Chiquito, which specializes in products of the Paraná.

While I don’t fish myself, two locations along the Paraná come highly recommended for those who wish to test its sediment-laden waters. One of those is Paso de la Patria, about 35 km east of the provincial capital of Corrientes, and the other is Goya, about 220 km south of Corrientes.

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