Rio Negro, Amazon Basin, Brazil
Early Amazon explorer John D. Haseman wrote in 1911 that, "Fishing in South America is by far the most dangerous of all forms of scientific exploration. No man over 50 years of age should attempt to enter this region." Unsurprisingly, Johnny Morris ignored that advice.
"The ferocious strike of a peacock bass hitting a top water lure is the most exciting adrenaline rush in fishing," says Morris. "These monsters have spawned their own fishing tourism industry in Brazil's Amazon basin and would rate as my number one freshwater fish."
Johnny was still throwing a line into his beloved Ozarks streams and stocking shelves at the Brown Derby when peacock bass, first described by A.J. McClane in 'Field and Stream,' were being misidentified as bass. They're actually cichlids (tropical, spiny-finned fish) – otherwise known as "freshwater bullies" due to their tendency to attack lures, break lines, and shatter rods. That they flourish in a river full of caimans, piranhas, and catfish the size of Mini Coopers says a lot about these born fighters – and why Morris returns to Brazil every chance he gets. [Floating cabin-based fishing expeditions into the Amazon run from $4,490; riverplateanglers.com]