A common practice among anglers is to use a bait, lure, or fly that resembles the preferred prey of their target fish, referred to as “matching the hatch.” This phrase typically conjures up images of brooding over a box of tiny, elegantly tied flies in an attempt to fool finicky trout – but when fishing for machaca, the approach is a little less delicate.

Found in many tropical lowland rivers of Central America, including the Río Sierpe in Costa Rica, the machaca (Brycon behereae) belongs to the same order as piranhas. However, contrary to its predatory cousins and their fearsome reputation, the machaca is predominantly a vegetarian, and uses its impressive pearly whites to chomp on leaves, blossoms, seeds and nuts.

Fishing for machaca has been gaining popularity – for good reason. Boating on rivers fringed by tropical jungle, surrounded by wildlife including monkeys, crocodiles and a myriad of exotic birds is itself a special experience, and provides an adventurous backdrop to stalking feisty machaca that can reach nearly 10 pounds in weight. Machaca will frequently gather below branches of fruiting trees and pounce on anything that resembles the falling fruit in shape and color. If you find such a tree, matching the hatch can be as simple as using a piece of cork that has been painted green. Let us know if you would like to make freshwater fishing part of your experience at Casa Roja!