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​Gill McFinn’s Incredible Amazon Encounters

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Red-bearded Spotted Moose T-Shirt

The Amazon River was an adventure my crew and I prepared for with all sorts of extra gear. We had plenty of strange experiences, but none stranger than the one represented on my Red-Bearded Spotted Moose T-Shirt. I’d heard tales of the moose, but I never dreamed we’d lay eyes on one. After all, what brought us to the Amazon was fishing. We’re no land-lubbers. Fortunately, they are among the animals that quench their thirst in the world’s second longest river.

First, the fish

We’d heard stories about catfish longer than two men, weighing 200 pounds. Now, that sounds like a fairy tale, don’t it? In the U.S., the largest are around 60 pounds. So the stories out of Brazil sounded like pure malarkey to me. When we finally made our way onto the Amazon, it was spring. We brought ourselves buckets of mosquito repellent, as part of our preparation.

Our plan was to try to catch whiskered fish as big as the pictures we saw. (Even though I saw photos with me own eyes, I couldn’t believe it.) For me, it was like mining for gold. No one made a comment as to the taste of a catfish that large. All I know is that fried catfish is a delicacy of delicacies. My mouth watered just thinking about it.

As we made our way along the Amazon, we stopped at various villages to have a look-see around and check on new ideas for bait. Of course, chicken livers are famous for being the absolute best catfish bait. But as small as a chicken liver is, I wondered what the huge catfish in the Amazon go for. I learned that they do go for crawfish, same as in the U.S. So I had my plan for catching a massive catfish.

The unexpected discovery

As we traveled along, no one was all abuzz about any huge catfish sightings. There was a lot of talk about the Amazon women that graced the shores of the Amazon centuries ago. I heard tale that deep in the furthest hidden recesses of the Amazon Rainforest, a civilization of large women still reside. But this seemed to be too far away from shores of the Amazon.

The other news being passed around was about sightings of the red-bearded spotted moose. One morning, sure enough, as our boat slowly moved through the water in pre-dawn hours, we saw something moving toward the shorelines. It was an entire herd of Red-Bearded Spotted Moose. Their details are as colorful as the depictions I’d seen.

It was nice and all, but I was after a giant catfish. We wasn’t disappointed. With the help of my crew, two days after seeing the bearded moose, I caught a catfish just shy of 200 pounds. We had the biggest fish fry in a friendly village and shared our bounty. Several women of Amazon proportions actually joined in.

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