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Yeow! 17" Catfish by the Jefferson Memorial! Learn to Fish in 30 Seconds!

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Travels in Fishing

- Rio de Janeiro / Niteroi -

And I probably won't fly down to Rio,
But then again, I just might.
-- Michael Nesmith

June 13 2007

When we discussed going to South America, I was hesitant about Rio. Everything I had read from Travel magazines, books, articles, websites/tripadvisor, said Rio was a very dangerous city. I could cover myself for theft as best I could, but anything more serious was a real problem. Even tourists being mugged on the climb up Corcovado. I really did not want to travel alone, with no one to watch my back.

The weather was clear, in the low 80’s, too chilly for the cariocas to be on the beach, but in June, it was really only a week away from the winter solstice. So no lovely Ipanema girls in dental floss, but also muggers were out of season. Stayed on the edge of Ipanema and Leblon (right on the canal separating the two), away from the more touristy Copacabana. Discovered this is a residential neighborhood, that goes back at least seven blocks from the beach, with no sign of favelas, the Rio slums – which turn out to be high on hillsides in the near jungle, because that is the topography from which the immigrants came. Tijuca is the largest city “park” in the world. Sort of Disney does the Amazon rainforest.

I did not look forward to fishing on my own, but thought of Anderson Cooper, and said, hey, I’m a reporter, this goes with the territory. I took a cab to the far/eastern end of Copacabana, and with my knapsack of tackle and rod, hiked up to the park where there is a rocky outlook. Seemed most people there were couples watching the sunset. There were perhaps three other groups fishing on some devilishly smooth and slippery rocks. I watched for awhile to see how they fished and with what. One guy was running a clinic in how to catch sardines, or baitfish for night out in a boat. The surf was heavy and I snagged virtually every weighted lure I had. I finally gave up when it became so dark I could not thread the line through a lure. Dark and shadowy, I made my way back, almost lost in the maze of trails and boulders. Just walked very fast and straight ahead, back to a cab stand.

The next day we were off to the old capital of Niteroi, which is almost Hampton-y. Gated here, gated there … Found one beach, again with a high, slippery outcrop of rock and a good ten meters above the crashing waves. Unfortunately, was not prepared, as I rarely carry more than 50 yards of line; so no casts beyond the surf. Showed our guide all the stuff I carry; he was very impressed with braid, some of the lures and variety of hooks. But not a nibble. Wrong time of day, bad surf, wrong moon phase … supposedly can catch small fish here …

Somewhere I had read that in seeing Sugarloaf and Corcovado, one should do one in the morning and the other at sunset. We had visited Sugarloaf the day before and now rushed back to Corcovado to catch the cable up to the top before sunset. Made a believer of our guide, who had never done this before. As the sun sinks over Sugarloaf (and some ugly radio towers), the lights from Copacabana (on one side) and the Bay (and its 17km bridge) come up. Curiously the almost Christmas-y lighting effect came from the favelas in the hills …

Must do:

Caipirinhas at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, outside by the pool, with a plate of canapés

Marius Seafood Restaurant


Contact: Buzz Andrews
Savannah, GA


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