Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to document a fishing adventure for Busch Beer down in Brazil. We spent five straight days on the Rio Negro, skipping up and down the river on bass boats, but always returning to a yacht that acted as our sleeping vessel. Each morning, we would wake up before the sunrise and take an hour long ride away from the yacht to reach our fishing spots for the day, and every evening just after the sun went beyond the horizon, we would take the hour ride back. This was the longest I had even been out on the water, and also the longest I had been without communication with the outside world. There was a satellite phone on the yacht, but finding a signal was tough (and costed ten bucks a minute).
Two out of the five days required us to lift the motor into the boat and either push our way through shallow water with a stick, or hop completely out of the boat and drag it across branches of trees we had just laid out like makeshift railroad tracks to keep the boat from cutting into the muddy river bottom. With a camera strapped to my left and right, it was all I could do to keep them raised up above the waist level water. After a mile trek on foot, dodging stingrays and keeping an eye out for caimans, we could hop back in the boat and continue hunting for the large peacock bass we were after.
One evening on the way back to our sleeping boat, we sped through a large fire in the nearby rainforest. The air became so thick as the smoke blocked out the light, we had to raise our bandanas over our mouths just to breathe.
Most of our meals out on the water were pre packed sandwiches to be scarfed down whenever we could, however we dedicated one day to be reserved for a shore lunch. After catching enough piranha and peacock bass, the fish were quickly cleaned and placed on a freshly assembled grill made out of nearby branches cut down by a machete. Sitting on the beach of the Rio Negro, eating by far the freshest fish I had ever had was an unforgettable perk of the job.
During our long commutes back and forth across the river, we encountered many locals out either fishing or relaxing on their pieced together boats. The Rio Negro is such a vital way of life for so many people. We passed by so many remote villages where people depend on the fish they catch for survival, whether it's for food or sale. We made a pit stop one morning to drop off some fish one of our guides had caught for his family. His wife and daughter walked down a dizzying amount of stairs to our boat and collected the fish, only to turn right back around and climb the stairs back up the hill.
Usually my traveling adventures are topped off with a helicopter ride, and this journey was no different. It provides us with a better perspective and allows us to get some bigger scale, sweeping shots of the environment. I've hung out of many helicopters over my career and love every opportunity to add that variety to a shoot. After being on the water level for so long, it was amazing to get up high and realize the vastness of trees that were surrounding us the whole time.
Each night offered just enough time to reflect on the day, have a few drinks, eat amazingly prepared local food, and get a few hours to catch some shut eye. That is if you could maneuver below deck to the sleeping quarters without being attacked by the hundreds of large grasshoppers that invaded the yacht every night.
Finally off the water and back to the civilization of Manaus, we took our final day to decompress and walk around some markets to get the full flavor of Brazil. The meat and fish market was overwhelming in both sights and smells. Every kind of fish laid out right in front of you, aisle after aisle. We also walked down to some docks where people were camped out in hammocks on large transport boats, waiting to push off down river.
After nine days, the adventure had come to an end. It was bittersweet to leave such a beautiful place, but it's always nice to get back home, especially to a bed that isn't on water. It's impossible to say if I'll ever find myself back in the Amazon, but like many places I have been fortunate enough to visit, I certainly wouldn't mind.
Most of these shots were taken with a Pentax 645z, while a few might be from either a Sony a7sii or a Canon 1Dc (except the grasshopper, shot on iphone).