Jennifer and Jason Schall are known for catching record-breaking fish. In August 2021, Field & Stream reported on a trip the couple took to the Trinity River in Texas in which they caught 13 line class IGFA world record gar. Last fall, they did it again—this time in an extremely remote location. On an epic fishing trip to the Amazon, the duo caught nine potential world-record fish.
The Schalls had long had the Amazon in their sights, but they never went through with a trip until recently. “It has been a bucket list trip for us for a long time,” Jason tells Field & Stream. “As far as places you can go where you can cast to some big, iconic species in a place that is beautiful without being too crowded, this was it. Last summer, we just finally decided to start making plans to do it.”
The Schalls used an outfitter called Fish Columbia. On October 28, they flew into Bogotá. The next day involved an additional full day’s travel, including an 8-hour drive followed by a 9-hour boat ride to get to camp. Then, the fun began.
The Schalls prefer fishing with artificial lures—and didn’t use any live bait during the 2-week-long trip. They brought their own gear with them and say they “only brought clothes to pad their fishing tackle.” They quickly learned what kind of lures would work and what wouldn’t.
“It was kind of funny because if you cast a soft plastic, by the time you reel it in, you’re left with nothing,” says Jason. “Everything in the Amazon has teeth and attacks anything it can. We learned the hard way that soft plastics were not the best way to go. We mainly used hard, artificial lures in your typical cast-and-retrieve style.”
Catching Nine Potential World Records
Over the next ten days, the couple managed to land a number of truly impressive catches, and several of them stand to make the record books. Jennifer caught five pending IGFA world records, including a 17-inch all-tackle length record matrincha and a 10-pound, 8-ounce payara for the 8-pound women’s line class record. Jason reeled in four potential IGFA line-class records, including a whopper 15-pound, 6-ounce speckled peacock bass for the 30-pound men’s line class record.
“The most exciting fish for me to catch was the payara or vampire fish,” Jennifer told Field & Stream. “That was pretty exciting—they fight well, explode on your bait, and once you see them in person, they’re just beautiful. The teeth were amazing.”
“Another fun fish was the sardinata, which looks an awful lot like a shad,” she adds. “The one I caught was by far one of the biggest that our guides had ever seen. They jump so much, they’re like little tarpon. We lost a few that way, but this one was pretty special.”
Meanwhile, Jason said his favorite species to catch was one he’d long had his eye on. “One fish that wasn’t a record but that was special for me was a piranha,” he says. “You know, a piranha is an iconic, horror-movie fish. There are not many places you can catch these infamous fish—and I was able to catch three different species of them.”
Jason is also especially proud of the big peacock bass he boated. “I’ve caught them in a few different places, but the biggest one I’d ever caught before this trip was around 7 pounds,” he says. This time, we were in the right place to do it. I caught several between 15 and 20 pounds. I was so thrilled.”
All in all, the couple says the trip went smoothly. “We didn’t realize how easily things could have gone wrong, or how dangerous it could have been,” says Jason. “We returned just fine, but every day, we were encountering something that could’ve gone bad, whether it was a venomous scorpion crawling across our feet, getting sick, or something else. And we were probably at least a day away from a hospital.”
“The rewards were pretty unique,” he adds. “Every day we fished, there were monkeys swinging through the trees, parrots all around, and giant insects and amphibians that you’d never see,” says Jason. “It’s just something you can’t experience anywhere else.”
A Trip to Remember
For both Jason and Jennifer, who hold dozens of IGFA records, the potential records they nabbed on the trip to the Amazon have special significance. “These will be the first IGFA records that I was able to achieve outside of the U.S.,” says Jennifer. “As far as species go, they’re all unique from what we can fish for near home. This might be the only time I’ll have world records for these species.”
“This was a really difficult location to get to,” adds Jason. “It’s not something one can do often, and we’re not sure we’ll ever be able to do it again. You kind of get one shot at it, and you have to figure out where the fish are, how to catch them, and then how to target the biggest ones. I loved that challenge.”