For those who know, Machaca is one of the most exciting freshwater game fish found in Central America. Actually a relative of the piranha, Machaca put up such a good fight and aerial display they have earned the nickname “mini tarpon.” Once hooked they’ll leap into the air several times in an attempt to throw your hook.
Machaca are aggressive and territorial feeders, and although they’ll eat the occasional bug they are for the most part herbivores. Their impressive set of teeth are made for eating berries and cracking seed pods, not gripping or tearing flesh. Machaca have deep bellies and are mainly silver in color, though their heads will take on a darker or golden color. Most Machaca are in the 3-6 lb range, but the world record was caught in 1991 near the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and weighed in at nearly 10 lbs!
WHAT THEY EAT: Young Machaca will eat whatever they can to survive, be it insects, larvae, leaves, or seeds. Once mature, Machaca are mainly herbivores that feed on berries, fruit, and seeds that fall from trees into the water.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: Machaca are found in fresh water rivers and lakes all over Central America from Mexico to Panama. They are typically found between 0 m and 600 meters elevation. While they are found in rivers, the biggest Machaca seem to be pulled from Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. They are often found near river mouths and streams, or hiding from the sun under overhanging branches waiting for food to fall into the river. Because of their aggressive behavior and splash-happy responsiveness, Machaca are a blast to fish for with surface poppers as well as fly fishing.