Stuck on a sandbar.
In 2018 there was a chance meeting of two very important people in the Amazon. Especially when you look at big words like conservation, deforestation, humanity, protection and sport fishing. The mindset has started to change and the Amazon fishing world is seeing a new concept of a much smaller footprint and rejuvenation of the jungle, it’s people and the wildlife.
We were in our 2nd season operating on the Lower Xeruini River. The river was extremely low and it was getting tough to navigate. We settled into our section of the river and were having great fishing. One evening towards the end of our 5 week season a large barge style boat comes by and just above our camp it bottoms out on a large sandbar in the river. We had stopped just below it and set up camp because we knew this was a barrier we were not getting around. The boat stayed there all night. The next morning after all the fishermen had left camp Rob, Neto and a couple more headed over to the boat to see if they could help. When they arrived there were a couple people unloading supplies from the barge onto smaller boats for transport on the river. The sandbar had served as an anchor for the boat to spend the night. Neto starts shouting to a man on the top of the barge and conversation begins. The man and the owner of the boat, Natan Guedes.
Natan was born on June 21st, 1971, in a family of fishermen and farmers in a large village named Samauma. It is located in the Januacá region on the Solimoes River, 2 hours by boat from Manaus Brazil. It is abundant with fish and has rich soil. The reality back then in the Brazilian Amazon was that kids often gave priority to helping their parents with manioc plantations and farming rather than going to school. That’s how Natan got used to hard work early in life and learned driving anything from a little canoe to his father’s supply boat.
After dropping out of school, he went straight to the Air Force for a year. (Military service is required in Brazil) When he got back in 1993 his father’s boat had been hired as a supply transport boat for the first peacock bass fishing operation in that area. Natan spent two years operating that supply boat. He also tried his hand as a fishing guide on Itapara river and a season in Argentina as a hunting guide. He was offered a chance to become a “franchise owner” of the company, which meant investing into the operation and having his own camp. Maintenance was too costly and 3 years later that deal was undone. In 2017, with a much better grasp of being an owner of a fishing operation, Natan bought the camp and built a new one which himself and his wife, IlMara Guedes, have been taking care of since they’ve been together – over the last 6 years.