The Golden Dorado: Fly Fishing's Pound-for-Pound Toughest Fish in the World

It's a question I get asked a lot, but I think the answer is pretty easy. Imagine a fish that attacks a fly like a smallmouth bass, bolts like a bonefish, leverages river current like a wild steelhead, and then also jumps like a tarpon.

They call that the Golden dorado, and it lives in South America. No place serves up the dorado experience like Tsimane Lodge in Bolivia.

I remember being part of the group that went to set up logistics before this lodge was ever built, back in 2008. I was the lone Gringo. We drove from Santa Cruz to Trinidad, then flew into Asunta, then spent 8 days camping in jaguar country. It led to one of my favorite print stories ever, "In Search of the River Gods," that ran in Field & Stream, and this photo gallery.

I talk about still hearing the jungle in my sleep, and believe it or not, sometimes I still do. I also vividly remember the pull of the dorado. I haven't been back to Bolivia since the lodge was built, but I hear it is great. I'm planning another jungle adventure with my friends for this fall, for another fish in another place...

There's something special about jungle angling, and I would propose that fly fishing in the Amazon today is what hunting in Africa was a century ago. While both are absolutely spectacular options, if I were saving pennies for a life trip either to the far north or the South American jungle, I'd point south, no question.

Do check out the video and watch those fish explode. You'll know why. And you'll also get a couple glimpses of a big, brown, permit-shaped fish. That's the pacu, and it's every bit the challenge and reward that the saltwater permit is.