My fascination with the Amazon Rain Forest began when I
was a little girl. I was in love with its exotic flora
and fauna, rivers and tropical climate, and hoped that
one day I could find myself surrounded by all of its
beauty. My interest in this amazing forest grew even
more after learning to fly fish. I really wanted to
have the experience of catching and releasing a big
"tucunaré" (peacockbass) and other types of fish native
to this enchanted forest and its rivers. But, pursuing
a BA in Music Education, a Master's degree in Guidance
and Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology took
a lot of my time and money, as well. Instead of going
fishing in the Amazon, I had to settle for going fly-fishing
in places closer to where I lived. Don't get me wrong, though.
These places had their own enchantment and plenty of fish to
catch and release. One of them in particular, became My
Little Amazon River. Little, because it is a creek by
comparison, but with plenty of nature and wild life to
make you feel like you are in the Amazon.
I cannot recall exactly how many years ago we first went
fly-fishing in My Little Amazon River, but I believe that
seventeen is a rather reasonable number. We were driving
towards Rehoboth, Delaware (two hours from Philly) on a
sunny spring day when suddenly a canoe rental sign to the
right side of the road caught our attention. The only
thing that was visible from the road was a little pond.
Interested in knowing where it was possible to go canoeing
in this area, we decided to check out the canoe rental place.
After all, we were carrying our fishing equipment just in
case we could find a place to wet our lines. Following the
signs, we arrived at a small house hidden behind several
trees and bushes. The owner of the canoe rental place was
behind his screened door, waiting to see who had arrived.
After introducing ourselves, we expressed our interest to
go canoeing and, if possible, fishing. Mr. Plummer, who
was a very polite and nature-loving gentleman, asked us
several questions. We answered his questions, and asked
him some ourselves. After all was said and done, we rented
a canoe for the day and that's when our adventures in My
Little Amazon River began!
Jorge and I followed Mr. Plummer through a little forest
area behind his house and soon we reached the canoe
launching area. While we were loading our fishing gear,
paddles and canoe cushions, Mr. Plummer gave us the
following instructions: "You are not allowed to fish in
this part of the pond. To get to the other side of the
pond, you have to paddle to the bridge were you saw the
canoe rental sign and go underneath it. On the other
side of the pond you'll see two little entrances. If
the water level is too low, you may have to portage the
canoe through a path that takes you a little bit to the
road and goes back into the creek. If not, you can
continue canoeing until you reach the wider area of the
creek. Enjoy your day, and I'll see you here at 6:00 p.m."
Thanking him, we got into the canoe and began to paddle
away, eager to begin our expedition.
Paddling to the bridge, we found out that Mr. Plummer
wasn't exaggerating when he said the bridge was low!
To go underneath it we had to lower our heads and push
ourselves from the ceiling of the bridge or from one
of its walls.
Getting the canoe under the bridge was quite an experience!
Under the bridge, we found swallows' nests and spider
webs. The swallows began to make a lot of noise because
we were too close to their nests, but Jorge and I managed
to push the canoe from the middle of the bridge without
disturbing their nests. Once at the other side, we
noticed that the water level was high and decided to get
the canoe through the narrow passage towards our right-hand
side. We hadn't paddled more than a few feet from the trees'
entrance when another obstacle appeared. There was a big
fallen log in the middle of the creek! Studying the
situation, we put our muscles to work and cleared the
area, but we had to go through yet one more narrow passage
before entering the wide area of the creek.
Raquel, my sister in law, helps me get the canoe
underneath the fallen log.
It felt like we were in the jungle. There was water
underneath us, trees and plants on both sides, birds
singing, fish and turtles in the water, snakes sleeping
on some of the bushes, and spider webs and tree branches
almost touching our heads.
Paddling through the passage of My Little Amazon River.
A few paddles later, the passage became a little wider
and was surrounded by lily pads. As we continued to
paddle, we arrived at the wide entrance of the creek.
I thought I was seeing a mirage! Almost breathlessly
I said to Jorge, "Wow! This place is really beautiful!"
Jorge among the lily pads
The sun was shining, the wind was calm, and the river,
like a mirror, reflected the sky and trees in it. The
air had a sweet and sour smell combination - sweet
because of the fragrance of some flowers at the edge
of the creek and sour because of the decomposition of
dead leaves at the bottom of it. Looking around, I
didn't see any other fishermen. A grin appeared on my
face. "The gods and goddesses must be on our side," I
thought. We had this creek all to ourselves! I
immediately felt in love with it, and from that moment
on, I began to call it My Little Amazon River.
I set up my 7Wt rod, selected a sneaky Pete slider and
began to cast towards the shady structured areas.
Immediately, a fish took my fly and my rod bent as if
there were a giant creature pulling at the other end.
Excited, I began to retrieve my line thinking that I
had caught a large-mouth bass. But the fish began to
swim fast and sideways, and right then I knew I hadn't
hooked a large-mouth bass, but a bluegill.
One of many Bluegills!
How did I know this? Well, if you spend as much time
fishing for bass and pan fish as we do, then you can
certainly tell what type of fish you have at the end
of your line before pulling it from the water.
When feeding at the surface, bluegills sometimes attack
the fly the moment it lands on the water. Then they begin
to swim very fast and sideways, which gives them away
immediately. Large-mouth bass and crappies attack the
fly differently. The crappies bite the fly very softly,
and once hooked, they give up very easily. That is, they
don't give a big fight and are easy to reel in. The
large-mouth bass, like the good predators they are, ambush
their prey. Once hooked, they begin to jump with all their
might trying to get rid of the fly. This is an action that
any fly angler, or any fisherman, for that matter, loves to
What a Bluegill!
Gender differentiation is also something that I learned
after fly-fishing for bass and pan fish for a while. The
fish color, shape and size can help you determine if you
caught a male or female fish. For instance, during the
panfish's spawning season, females tend to be smaller and
light in color, while males tend to be bigger and are
brighter in color. In some species (e.g. peacockbass), the
males develop a hump above their heads to impress the
As I continued to cast, I kept on reeling in beautiful
bluegills, one after the other. Some of them had orange
bellies, while others had a mixture of orange, red and
black on them, just like pumpkinseeds. Several of them
were in the one-pound range and I couldn't help thinking
how it would feel to land one of these fish if they were
bigger and heavier. Seeing all the surface action, Jorge
decided to anchor the canoe in a pool area of the creek
and began to cast as well. And let me tell you
something...that day, we caught hundreds of bluegills
(and I'm not exaggerating)! In fact, I began to count
how many fish each of us had caught when, suddenly, Jorge
said, "In a book I recently read, the author mentioned the
type of people an angler shouldn't go fishing with."
"And?" I asked, waiting to see what he would say next.
"His list included those who count how many fish they have
caught," added Jorge.
I began to laugh, remembering reading the same thing in one
of the many fishing books we have. "Are you trying to tell
me to stop counting?" I asked. Jorge's facial gestures told
me I should stop counting, and for a while I did; but catching
more fish than he was catching - and not just bluegills, but
other species as well - I just couldn't help not to count.
I guess I wanted him to know that the pupil (me) was
out-fishing the master (him). Although I must admit that he
really enjoys seeing me fishing, just as much as I enjoy
having him as my husband and fishing partner.
Jorge with some of his catch from My Little Amazon River: a crappie and a chain pickerel!
The day passed quite quickly, as always happens when one
is having so much fun. We were so much into fishing that
we almost forgot we had to return the canoe by 6:00 p.m.
Paddling as fast as we could, we managed to get back a few
minutes passed six. Mr. Plummer was already waiting for us
at the canoe launching area. "How did the fishing go?" he
asked. Almost at unison we both said, "We had a great time."
On our way home, we talked about all the positive points
of fly-fishing in this creek. My Little Amazon River
proved to be a fantastic fishing spot for panfish that day.
We enjoyed it so much that, from that day on, we went back
almost every weekend and rented a canoe at Mr. Plummer's
place. Not wanting to drive two hours back and forth from
Philly every time we went fishing there, we asked Mr. Plummer
if he could recommend a motel around the area. It turned out
that he knew the owner of a bed and breakfast in Middletown,
Delaware and, for four consecutive years, we became regular
clients of Mr. Plummer, as well as of Mrs. Ruth, the owner
of the B&B.
My 1st large mouth bass and 1st carp from My Little Amazon River
One evening, the phone rang in our home. I picked it up and
heard Mrs. Ruth's voice. After greeting each other, she told
me the reason of her call: Mr. Plummer had been found dead in
his house. I was speechless for a moment because I couldn't
believe what I was hearing. Mrs. Ruth added that the police
had under custody the young man Mr. Plummer hired to help him
in his canoe rental business, because they believe this young
man committed the murder. The motive for Mr. Plummer's murder
Having been regular customers for quite a while, we remembered
seeing the alleged perpetrator at Mr. Plummer's, helping
customers launch their canoes at the pond or taking care
of the canoes. He was a quiet fellow, who didn't look
like someone capable of committing such a cruel and awful
crime. Jorge and I felt very sad and unable to understand
what could have prompted this young man to take away Mr.
Plummer's life. Not only had we liked the convenience of
Mr. Plummer's canoe rental business, but we also developed
a respectful camaraderie and friendship with him. He was
a fine gentleman, and we learned a lot about nature from
him, especially about the flora and fauna of My Little
Amazon River. On many occasions upon our return from
fishing in the creek, he had made us coffee or had given
us refreshments, and there were times when we returned home
with fresh produce that Mr. Plummer had given us from his
vegetable garden. It was hard to believe and understand
how something so bad could happen to such a good person.
Several months passed before Jorge and I decided to take
our ten-foot inflatable dinghy fishing at My Little Amazon
River. The creek still possessed its magical attraction,
as well as plenty of fish to catch. However, Mr. Plummer's
presence, as well as his knowledge of nature and his advice,
was missing. I truly hope that wherever he is, he finds
himself surrounded by nature and all the beautiful things
he loved. ~ Marta E. Rivas-Olmeda