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    Home> Fresh Water Dorado of the Amazon Basin

Dorado, Yatorana and Matrinchá

 Characins - Characidae
Part of the order Cypriniformes. Unlike their close relatives the minnows (Cyprinidae), most characins have teeth.  Characidae comprise a large family of over 500 species restricted to the tropics and subtropics of Africa, South and Central America.  Recently, taxonomists have further divided the family into 16 sub-families.   
     Characins include a wide range of species such as  piranhas, tetras, copeinas, tigerfish, trairas and payara.  Many of the most popular aquarium fishes are characins.  They are mostly egg-scatterers.  Many species breed in group spawnings, leaving the eggs and young behind to fend for themselves.   
 Dorado display brilliant golden coloration. 
 Their sharp teeth and powerful jaws make wire leaders a must
Dorado are acrobatic fighters .  
Dorado, Yatorana and Matrinchá

Freshwater dorado (Salminus maxillosus and S. hilarii) are a distinct migratory gamefish not to be confused with the saltwater dolphin fish (which is also called 'el dorado' in many Spanish-speaking countries).  Physically, the freshwater dorado is best described as a prehistoric golden trout or salmon with the jaws of a pit bull terrier.   Ichthyologists have appropriately given the southern species of dorado the Latin name, Salminus maxillosus. Salminus, meaning trout-like, and maxillosus referring to the fish's immensely-powerful jaws.  Dorado are hard-hitting, incredibly-strong, acrobatic fighters that attain weights in excess of 30-pounds.  They are, in short, South America’s hyped-up version of a ‘tropical trout.’ Dorado are commonly found throughout a massive watershed between southern Brazil/Bolivia and Northern Argentina.  Incredibly, freshwater dorado remain a relatively little-known gamefish in the United States. 
     Conventional gear for big dorado is virtually the same as that mentioned in the trophy peacock bass section (a wire leader is essential).  Dorado are usually not surface oriented fish, so 7-inch jerk baits, Rattle Trap-type lures, spoons and jigs are most productive. 
 Dorado are fished with an 8-9-weight fly rod and either a 200-grain, 24-foot sink tip line or a full floating line depending upon water conditions.  A heavy steel leader is a must, as these fish will chew through 100-pound like it is sewing thread!  Dorado take a variety of streamers, sliders and even Atlantic salmon-style Bombers during ideal conditions (all on 3/0 heavy long shank hooks).  Northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia have the strongest populations of dorado. 
     The bocón or palambra/yatorana (Holobrycon pesu) is a close relative of the dorado.  They are a migratory, fast water fish found throughout the Amazon basin. Bocón live and behave almost exactly like the dorado, but do not reach the latter’s size, so they can be fished on slightly lighter tackle.  Bolivia has the best populations of these fish. 
      Matrinchá (Brycon falcatus) are a very close cousin to the bocón (they look almost exactly alike).  This fish has an affinity for small baitfish and terrestrial insects and can be taken on small spoons, jigs, and jerk baits or small streamers and ant and beetle imitations in fast water (just like trout fishing). The matrinchã’s range seems to be limited to the Brazilian Amazon. 

Yatorana, called bocón, in Colombia and Venezuela, jump and fight like dorado and run in schools, so once you’re into them the action is fast and furious.      

Yatorana can grow upwards of 15-pounds.  This is all the fish you’d want to tangle with on light tackle.   

Matrinchá are fierce fighters on light tackle.  They strike baits at high speed and continue moving right through the drag.  Within seconds they're out of the water and flying through the air.  

A small specimen of matrinchá shows off its brightly marked tail and dorsal fins.  These highlights fade and ultimately disappear in older specimens.
Catch and Release - Almost every single fish pictured in this article and throughout our website was safely returned to the water after being photographed.  On rare occasions, a specimen may be injured or selected for our table.  We never sacrifice rare or large specimens.  We firmly believe in catch and release fishing and we do everything in our power to preserve and protect the remarkable natural wonders that it is our privilege to enjoy.
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