Pantanal Escapes

Sport Fishing in the Pantanal

In recent years, more international anglers have begun travelling into the Pantanal and elsewhere in South America, keen to try the fishing in exotic locations and to pit themselves against new species. However, the great fishing of the Pantanal is no secret to Brazilians who have been visiting for decades - with extensive infrastructure already in place for visiting fishing enthusiasts.

With around 260 fish species in the Pantanal, the region offers a huge variety for sports fishermen - although species will vary by specific location and time of year. The prized target species for most anglers is the Dorado, but with Pacu, Tambaqui and large catfish such as Pintado also proven favourites. However, these aren't always easy to find - so making use of local guides and expertise is a must. Around 700,000 tourists (mostly domestic Brazilian tourists) go to the Pantanal every year - with an estimated 65% of them have fishing as their main reason to visit.

Seasons


If fishing is the main purpose of your visit to the Pantanal, then the best months are Mar-Jun. Although fishing is possible in the dry season (Jul-Oct), but water levels are low, with a many fish species having migrated further south. These migratory species typically return when the rains arrive in late-October. Seasons in the Pantanal are as follow:
  • December to March: Wet season - hot, humid and lots of rain - bringing new life back to the environment after the dry season. Birds and other animals migrate onto high ground - including roads which have been raised to avoid the flooding. Fish migrate upriver as part of their annual spawning.
  • April/May: the rains cease, but landscape remains the same with waters at their high level.
  • June/July: Water level begins to drop. Fish, birds and animals are more abundant. This is winter, with occasional cold fronts arriving from the Andes.
  • August to November: Water levels drop more significantly, uncovering the cliffs and beaches along the river.
Fishing is forbidden in the spawning season from November through February. This is known locally as piracema - an indigenous term (pira = fish, cema = jump). Fishing hotels close during those months. Other hotels may also close for part of the rainy season (October-April).

Catch and Release


Although the majority of local fishermen still like to take their catch for eating (most fishing lodges and barco-hotels will store and cook them for you), an increasing number have adopted the more sustainable practice of catch and release fishing. Many of the large fishing competitions are also strongly encouraging this practice - reducing the depletion of valuable fish stock. In some areas such as the Rio Abobral, Rio Negro, Rio Perdido, and Rio Vermelho.

The region of Barão de Melgaço is a popular spot for sports fishing, offering impressive specimens such as this Gilded Catfish (Jaú). Catch and release fishing is strongly encouraged . Credit: Guilherme Filho\Secom-MT


Tour Options


Although visitors can guide themselves to their own favourite fishing spots, or fish the local streams, there are other options worth exploring.
Note that Pantanal Escapes has no affiliation with, and hasn't reviewed the lodges, hotels or barco-hotels listed. The details shown are intended only as a starting point for your own research, and we recommend you check reviews and confirm details with companies about facilities, availability and transfers before making any final choice.

Option 1: Fishing Lodges


A fishing lodge is exactly that - usually a simple hotel or pousada, and very often in remote locations. What they lack in luxuries they make up for with infrastructure designed to make the most of your fishing stay - including availability of fishing equipment and baits, boats for hire, guides, freezers for your catch, and local expertise. Most of these are fairly basic - but some higher end options are also available.

Cuiabá

Name

Description

Pousada Barra do Aricá
Santo Antônio do Leverger (map)
www.pousadabarradoarica.com.br

Located an hour away from Cuiabá - 30 km south of Santo Antônio do Leverger on MT-040, near the confluence of the Rio Aricá-mirim with the Cuiabá river.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Itaicy
Km 23.5, MT-040, Santo Antônio do Leverger (map)
www.pousadaitaicy.com.br

Simple but well-run fishing lodge located 23km south of Santo Antônio do Leverger.
See Trip Advisor reviews.


Poconé

Name

Description

Hotel Porto Jofre
Transpantaneira, Km 147 (map)
www.portojofre.com.br

This hotel is pretty much all there is in Porto Jofre. Comfortable, with agreat reputation, and able to arrange tours in the Cuiabá river and into the nearby National Park.
See Trip Advisor reviews.


Cáceres

Name

Description

Hotel Baiazinha
Estrada do Barranco Vermelho, Km 60 (map)
hotelbaiazinha.com.br

Well-rated hotel downriver from Cáceres popular for fishing and eco-tours, and close to Taiamã Reserve (one of the best spots to sight jaguars).
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Hotel Recanto do Dourado
BR-070, km 10 (map)
www.recantododourado.com.br

An hour downriver from Cáceres. Comfortable hotel conveniently situated for for fishing - with boats and guides available.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Fordinho
Rua dos Quidás, 950 (map)
www.pousadafordinho.com.br

Located on the outskirts of Cáceres. Simple, but popular with Brazilian fishing tourists.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Barranco Vermelho
Estr Barranco Vermelho, 100, Zona Rural
Facebook Page

Popular pousada for visiting anglers - located on the Paraguay river, on an old sugar plantation around 70km south of Cáceres. Close to Taiamã reserve and archaeological site including an indigenous burial ground.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Fazenda Descalvados
Paraguay River, 160km from Cáceres (map)
lendadopantanal.com.br

Pousada and fishing lodge in one of the most recognisable "postcard" buildings in the region. It's the lode closest to Taiamã Reserve, located 160km downstream from Cáceres on a historic formerly American-owned fazenda famous for having hosted President Theodore Roosevelt on his journey to the "River of Doubt".
No reviews available.


Barão de Melgaço

Name

Description

Pousada do Rio Mutum
Mimoso-Capoeirinha Km 15, Barão de Melgaço (map)
www.pousadamutum.com.br

Stylish and well-reviewed Pousada close the historic town of Mimoso and the Pantanal lakes of Baía Chachororé and Baía Sia Mariana. Good reputation for wildlife, birdwatching and fishing.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Baguari
Mimoso-Capoeirinha Km 13, Barão de Melgaço (map)
www.pousadabaguari.com.br

Close to Pousada do Rio Mutum. Great potential but the only review we've seen for this pousada was very negative.
See review.

Pousada da Tia Feva
Palmiro Paes de Barros, 4, Barão de Melgaço (map)
www.pousadatiafeva.com.br

Basic fishing lodge popular with Brazilians visiting the Barão de Melgaço region.
No reviews available.

Hotel Fazenda Arara Azul
Pirigara River (map)
www.hotelfazendaararaazul.com.br

Comfortable (though remote) lodge for fishing and wildlife located on the Pirigara River, a tributary of the São Lourenço. Access is by plane or by boat.
No reviews available.


Coxim

Name

Description

Pesqueiro e Pousada Piquiri
North bank of Piquiri river on MT/MS border (near Sonora)
www.pousadapiquiri.com.br

Remote fishing lodge on the border with Mato Grosso do Sul. No direct road access. Access is 45 mins by boat from Porto Jofre, or by air taxi from Cuiabá.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada do Tucunaré
Piquiri river on MT/MS border (near Sonora)
www.pousadadotucunarems.com.br

Rustic lodge primarily serving Brazilian fishing tourists.
No reviews available


Aquidauana

Name

Description

Barra Mansa
MS-170, near Rio Negro river
www.hotelbarramansa.com.br

Catch and release fishing on one of the most reputed Fazendas in the region, located on the Rio Negro between two patches of wetland - and a good spot for jaguars. About 120km from Aquidauana and only accessible by road in the dry season. Otherwise, best accessed by plane.
See Trip Advisor reviews.


Miranda

Name

Description

Pesqueiro da Cida
Av. Costa Marquês, 828 (map)
www.pesqueirodacida.com.br

Simple fishing hotel and lodge on the outskirts of Miranda. Some mixed reviews.
See Trip Advisor reviews.


Corumbá

Name

Description

Passo do Lontra & Pousada São João
Estrada Parque (map)
www.passodolontra.com.br

Two lodges to choose from. Passo do Lontra is situated on the Estrada Parque near Buraco das Piranhas, and is well set up for tourists and sports fishermen. It offers comfortable apartments and good facilities, with options also for camping.
Pousada São João is a second lodge located 25km further along the Estrada Parque.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Xaraés Lodge
Estrada Parque (map)
www.xaraes.com.br

A working cattle ranch located near the Abobral river, which also caters for tourist. Activites and wildlife.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Curupira
Avenida Imaculada Conceicao, Albuquerque (map)
www.pousadacurupira.com.br

Fishing lodge in the Pantanal region of Nhecolândia between Corumbá and Miranda. Offers fishing plus wildlife safari options.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pantanal Park Hotel
BR-262, near Porto Morrinho (map)
www.pantanalpark.com.br

A large rural hotel complex overlooking the Paraguay river. Suits both fishing tours and wildlife watching.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada & Pesqueiro Anhuma
Albuquerque District, near Corumbá
www.anhuma.com.br

Two lodges close to good fishing spots. Not luxurious or stylish but well set up for their clientele.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Palmeiras
BR-262, km 718
Baia de Albuquerque

www.pousadapalmeiras.com

Located off MS-432 (near where highway BR-262 crosses the Paraguay river), this is a small rustic, i.e. very simple, fishing lodge.
No reviews available.

Hotel Pesqueiro da Odila
BR-262 km 699, Porto Morrinho (map)
hotelpesqueirodaodila.com.br

Good-sized hotel also in the Albuquerque district on the Paraguay river, close to the intersection of BR-262 and BR-432. A little more comfortable than the basic lodges.
See Trip Advisor reviews.


Option 2: Barco-Hotels


Barco-Hotels are another popular option for fishing tourists in the Pantanal. Although most aren't that luxurious, the nice thing is that the hotel comes to pick you up - generally from the port of towns such as Cáceres, Corumbá and Porto Murtinho. Instead of waking up early to travel out to your favourite fishing spot you're already there when you wake up ... and (if fishing off the main boat) you have a kitchen, a bar, and an entertainment area. Some boats also come with luxuries such as a jacuzzi and spa baths if it all gets too much. Obviously, some boats are better than others, and the best ones can get expensive. They have air-conditioned cabins, satellite TV, and advanced communications. Most carry a complement of smaller boats (towed or mounted along the sides of the main vessel) enabling guests to leave the barco-hotel, exploring smaller channels and more secluded fishing spots.

The down side of Barco-Hotels is lack of flexibility, and difficulty if you're travelling independently. This is because boats need to keep schedule, plus they typically only take bookings for groups booking out the entire boat. Brazilians often make up these numbers by booking passage together with friends, work colleagues, or acquaintances they've met in earlier trips. Fortunately, a few tour companies will book out the entire boat then sell individual passage.

Links below contain information for several barco-hotels and agencies operating in the Pantanal. Please note, that we haven't reviewed any of these companies.

Website

Description

Details of four Barco-Hotels/Balsa-Hotels operating out of the Poconé area.

Directory of Barco-Hotels on the Go Pantanal website. Unfortunately, many of the links are no longer valid.

Small list of Barco-Hotels and contacts operating out of Porto Murtinho.

List of contacts for Barco-Hotels, and tour companies operating out of Corumbá.

One of the boats catering towards the high-end market. Operating out of Cácares - travelling down the Paraguay river past Taiamã reserve. Offers fishing and ecological tourism.

Tour company booking Barco-Hotels which primarily operate out of Corumbá.

Website for a Barco-Hotel operating out of Cáceres and Porto Jofre.

Company with two Barco-Hotels operating out Cáceres. Also runs the fishing lodge at the historic Fazenda Descalvados.

Fairly basic barco-hotel operating out of Cáceres.

Travel agency based in Corumbá, specialising in Pantanal fishing tours.

Website with links to price lists for Barco-Hotels in the Amazon and Pantanal. Prices vary by number of people and number of days.

Barco-Hotel travelling along the Rio Cuiabá between Porto Cercado (near Poconé) and Porto Jofre.


Fishing Licenses


A licence is essential for fishing in the Pantanal, with checks carried out by the Policia Florestal in conjunction with IBAMA (Brazil's environmental agency). If booking a trip from overseas, the easiest option to is to obtain a license arranged through your tour provider, if possible. This approach is likely to be a little more expensive, but will save you time and bureaucracy. However, in event you still need to procure a licence locally then the information below may help.

Fishing Licence - Brazilian Federal-Issued

In Brazil, the two names commonly used for amateur fishing licenses are Licença da Pesca Amadora or Carteira de Pescador Amador. National licenses are issued by the Ministry of Fishing and Aquaculture (MPA) and are valid across Brazil. These are split into:
  • Cat A - Desembarcada: This is a simple angler's licence allowing you to fish from riverbanks. R$ 20 (USD 7)
  • Cat B - Embarcada: This allows you to fish from boats and dinghies (in addition to angling). More expensive - but this is the most practical option for visitors on organised fishing tours. R$ 60 (USD 20)
Note that these prices were current as at June 2015, and could be subject to change. Licenses are valid for one year. An initial provisional licence, valid for 30 days, is given on payment, with the subsequent full licence being made available to download and print at the end of that period. Payment can be made at Banco do Brasil. Note that access to the online version will require you to register with the MPA website using your passport number (or CPF if you have Brazilian citizenship).
computer_icon_black http://sinpesq.mpa.gov.br/pndpa/web (portuguese only)

Fishing Licence - Brazilian State-Issued

Although the national licence theoretically grants permission to fish throughout Brazil, there are some exclusions. The state government of Mato Grosso do Sul, which controls the southern Pantanal region, has enacted its own legislation to ensure that it also receives a cut of the fishing revenue. Although the national licence is sufficient for larger rivers which cross state boundaries and are therefore subject to Brazilian Federal Law, you'll need a state licence to fish the smaller rivers and streams entirely contained within the state.

In essence, a national licence lets you fish in the large rivers and is good if you plan to fish in various other Brazilian states. It covers major rivers such as Paraguai, Paraná, Apa, Paranaíba, Aporé, Correntes, Piquiri and the Taquari (up until Coxim). However, if you plan to fish in smaller rivers and streams - or plan to limit your fishing within Mato Grosso do Sul, then the state-issued licence is better ... and is a little cheaper. Rather than paying for an entire year, the licence can be issued for shorter periods - down to one month, costing R$9.30 (USD 2.90). State-issue licenses can also be completed online with payment made at Banco do Brasil.
computer_icon_black www.imasul.ms.gov.br

Sadly, the above website is Portuguese-only, and isn't well designed. First you need to register yourself (using the passport option if non-Brazilian), then register through the Seriema system.

Fortunately, the state government of Mato Grosso (which controls the northern Pantanal region) hasn't yet followed suit with a requirement for state-issued licenses. However, it does have state-issued licenses as an option which can be issued for short periods, such as one month, as opposed to the one year national licence.
computer_icon_black www.sema.mt.gov.br

Fishing Licence - Bolivia/Paraguay

Licenses will also be needed if fishing in Bolivian and Paraguayan regions of the Pantanal - however we have no information at this time. If planning to travel and fish within those areas we suggest that you get local advice. Although there's probably less chance of encountering a police or a fisheries patrol ensuring you have the correct documentation will reduce your risk of problems with local officials.

Above: Visitors exploring the Pantanal near Cáceres, in front of a small Barco-Hotel. Credit: Marcos Vergueiro/Secom-MT

Below: An illegal catch of Pintado and Cachara confiscated by IBAMA (Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency) during the Piracema period in the Cuiabá river. Credit: Lenine Martins/Secom-MT


Fishing Rules


There are slight differences in rules for the two Brazilian states covering the Pantanal - but they are broadly similar. These are:
  • Fishing is prohibited during the Piracema period.
    Mato Grosso: Nov - 1 Mar
    Mato Grosso do Sul: 1 Oct - 1 Feb
  • Be aware of daily catch (and transport) limits.
    National licence: 10kg + 1 fish
    Mato Grosso licence: 5kg + 1 fish
    Mato Grosso do Sul licence: 10kg + 1 fish + 5 piranha.
    Transport of fish inter-state may also be prohibited (applies for Mato Grosso).
  • Be aware of minimum size restrictions varying by species.
  • Be aware of rivers or lakes with prohibited fishing, or where fishing is restricted to Catch and Release.
  • Some restrictions apply for fishing equipment.
computer_icon_black Fishing rules - Mato Grosso do Sul

Cáceres - International Fishing Festival


The Festival Internacional de Pesca (FIP) in Cáceres is the billed as the world biggest freshwater fishing competition (gaining the Guinness Book of Records title in 1992). The competition runs for a week each year - with around 30,000 people participating each day. There are big prizes, including cars, to the teams gaining the most points - and is a major event attracting fishermen from across Brazil and neighbouring countries. With so many people converging on Cáceres there are also lots of other attractions including shows by popular music artists, beach volleyball, football, canoe and kayak races and more.

This is now the biggest annual tourist event within the state of Mato Grosso and provides a major boost for the local economy - typically occurring in May or June. The event has been running since 1980. There are several categories including men's, women's, and children's divisions, and boat/canoe fishing categories. From 1995, the competition's emphasis was changed to catch and release fishing - where participants are required to keep the fish alive until they're measured, and points are lost for each dead fish. Points are also awarded based on the type of fish - with prized species such as dorado and pacu being the most valuable.
tv_icon Video: FIP Cáceres (advert)
tv_icon Video: FIP Cáceres (report)
computer_icon_black www.facebook.com/fipecaceres

Participants taking part in the annual International Fishing Festival in Cáceres. Credit: Edson Rodrigues/Secom-MT


Other Fishing Regions Nearby


Although the Pantanal has the advantage if you want to balance your fishing with other activities, such as spotting wildlife, there are several other great fishing locations nearby which merit mention. Waters of the Pantanal are part of the wider Paraguay-Paraná river system - meaning that lodges in Northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia offer many of the same fish species to those of the Pantanal. These alternative downriver locations can be better options for fishing large migratory species such as Dorado and Pintado in the dry season (Aug-Oct) due to them having migrated southwards, or to avoid the piracema period when fishing is prohibited.

Northern Argentina / Uruguay

Northern Argentina and Uruguay are establishing themselves as popular fishing destinations. They lack the species variety of the Pantanal, but have gained popularity due to specialisation in Dorado - one of the world's most beautiful and most challenging sports fish. Although fishing is possible all year round, the best months are Oct-Feb. La Zona, near the Salto Grande hydroelectric dam has one of the best reputations.

Guaporé region

Although close to the Pantanal, fishing along the Guaporé river is a different experience. The waters of the Guaporé are part of the Amazon eco-system - with more tropical species, and the chance to see Amazon river dolphins such as pink boto and the smaller grey-coloured tucuxi. This also provides visitors with an opportunity to enjoy views of dramatic table-top mountains in Ricardo Franco State Park and the nearby Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (Bolivia). The river flows northwards into the Brazilian state of Rondônia, and forms the border with Bolivia along much of its course. It flows into the Madeira and, eventually, the Amazon. The easiest way for Pantanal visitors to experience the Guaporé region by a visit to the towns of Pontes e Lacerda or Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade. However, serious fishing enthusiasts might also consider visiting a specialised fishing lodge such as the ones listed below:

Name

Description

Pousada Paço das Onças
Along the Rio Guaporé, 120km by dirt road from Vila Bela.
www.pousadapacodasoncas.com.br

Remote lodge in an area with notable fishing and wildlife. Accessible by dirt road, and by small plane.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Guaporé Pesca Hotel
Pimenteiras do Oeste, Rondônia
www.guaporepescahotel.com.br

Located on the Guaporé river, just north of Mato Grosso, in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. Close to the Bolivian frontier opposite Noel Kempff Mercado National Park.
See Trip Advisor Reviews

Pousada Vale do Guaporé
Pimenteiras do Oeste, Rondônia
www.pousadavaledoguapore.com.br

Another pousada located along the Guarporé river in Rondônia just north of Mato Grosso. Popular with fishing and eco-tourists,
No reviews available.


Araguaia region

The Araguaia river is located in eastern Mato Grosso, marking it's border with neighbouring states of Goías and Tocantins, before continuing up into the Amazon state of Pará. As with the Guaporé, this is another Amazon river system containing river dolphins (the newly acknowledged Araguaia sub-species of the boto), and especially famous for its large catfish such as the Paraíba and Pirarara (red-tailed catfish) which reach over two metres. There are numerous fishing lodges in the region - although the most convenient locations are Barra do Garças, close to the Serra do Roncador in Mato Grosso, and the town of Luiz Alves just across the state border in Goías.

Name

Description

Pousada Canoeiros
Rua 9, Quadra 19, Luiz Alves, Goías (map)
www.pousadacanoeiros.com.br

Located northeast of Cuiabá, in Luiz Alves just across the state border into Goías. One of the best places for fishing in the Araguaia.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Pousada Pescador
Av. Alameda, Luiz Alves, Goías (map)
www.pousadapescador.com.br

Local company operating fishing lodges and barco-hotels on the Araguaia river.
No reviews available.

Pousada Asa Branca
Luiz Alves, Goías
www.pousadaasabranca.com.br

Operates two remote fishing lodges (map 1) (map 2) close to Araguaia State Park, plus barco-hotels along the Araguaia river.
No reviews available.


Alta Floresta

Located in the southern Amazon rainforest, in a remote and pristine area that was set to become a test site for Brazil's nuclear weapons programme in the 1980s (which fortunately never occurred) - its one of the best spots to experience the rainforest, especially if visiting the acclaimed Cristalino Lodge. Alta Floresta is smaller and less busy than the going through the main Amazon city of Manaus, and is physically closer - meaning less time spent travelling if combining this with a visit to the Pantanal. There's also great fishing available within the region.

Name

Description

Pousada Mantega
Rio Teles Pires (map)
mantega.com.br

Remote pousada in rainforest surroundings specialising in fishing tourism, and with a great reputation for service. Located on Rio Teles Pires 180 km by dirt track from Alta Floresta, or accessible by small plane.
See Trip Advisor reviews.

Thaimaçu Lodge
Rio São Benedito / Rio Azul (map)
www.thaimacu.com.br

Located in a reserve area across the state border in Pará. The reserve marks a transitional area between Amazon forest and cerrado landscapes. 140 km by dirt track from Alta Floresta, or by small plane. Operates a second lodge on Rio Teles Pires.
No reviews available.

Pousada Santa Rosa
Rio Teles Pires (map)
www.pousadasantarosa.com.br

Remote specialist fishing lodge on Rio Teles Pires. Easiest access by small plane - otherwise access is via180 km dirt track, with another 50 km by boat.
No reviews available.


Bolivia

Although less developed and less accessible than the Brazilian side of the frontier, this has some advantages if looking for a remote fishing getaway. There are some fishing lodges located on the Bolivian side of the Guaporé river and other remote locations within the Bolivian Amazon.

Name

Description

Tsimane Lodge
Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure
hwww.tsimanelodge.com

Located on remote rivers in a pristine National Park area. Access is 1.5hrs by small plane from Santa Cruz
No reviews available.

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Toyota Bandeirante jeep in the Pantanal
Amazon kingfisher in the Pantanal
Sunrise in the Pantanal
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Banner: Catch and Release Fishing of Dorado (Pia Waugh)
Footer images: (
Andrew Mercer)

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