During the spring of 2011, three expert fly fishermen were commissioned to venture into the jungle interior of Guyana, a remote and largely unknown South American nation. These anglers were charged with the task of catching the world’s largest freshwater scaled fish, namely the Arapaima, on fly tackle. The overarching goal of the mission was to explore the plausibility of fostering sport-fishing tourism as a means of sustainable income for the Guyanese Amerindian community at Rewa Village. It proved to be no small feat. The trio navigated malarial mosquitoes, scorpions, giant anaconda, voracious black caiman, and the elusive but deadly jaguar. Undaunted, they became the first anglers to take South American Arapaima on the fly, landing several fish of world-record size. Moreover, they emerged from the jungle with video footage to attest to their success. Carefully crafted into a 30-minute documentary, Jungle Fish tells the story of these anglers and the villagers who came together to preserve a resource and promote a sustainable outlet of eco tourism.

Matthew Breuer ‘00 was one of these pioneering anglers. This spring, he returned to the interior of Guyana to continue the work of establishing a catch-and-release sport fishing initiative at Rewa Eco Lodge in the North Rupinuni. Working closely with the villagers of Rewa, Matt oversaw the task of training guides and lodge staff to execute trips suitable for the world’s most adventurous fly anglers.

To date, Matt and his colleague Oliver White have succeeded in securing a full roster of anglers for the coming season. These clients will utilize all of the permits granted by the Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Amerindian Affairs, respectively. Though the response to Arapaima sport fishing has been overwhelmingly positive, the project remains in its infancy. In conjunction with the indigenous people of Guyana, Matt is undertaking an effort to spread a conservation-oriented sport-fishing business model through other villages of the region. In an attempt to deepen the financial impact of this project upon the local communities, Matt and Oliver plan to facilitate further resource development of the North Rupinuni, particularly in the fields of agriculture, construction, logistics, marketing and retailing, exporting, and small scale industrial and sustainable business practices.

Building upon a passion for fly-fishing that was nurtured and encouraged at Sterling, Matt Breuer is truly making an impact in the developing world. •

Filed Under: Alumni