Giant Wolf Fish of South America

Giant Wolf Fish


The Giant Wolf Fish: Factsheet

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The Hoplias aimara, also commonly referred to as the Giant Wolffish, is a freshwater species rampant in the waters of South America.
The Giant Wolffish will be found in rivers, rapids, waterfalls and flooded forest floor environments of the northern part of the South American continent. This habitat includes countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French Guiana region.  In river environments, the Hoplias aimara will be found specifically in counter current zones.
The Giant Wolffish is an ambush predator by nature, and the fiercest member of the hoplias family of fish. It feeds on shrimps, crayfish, crabs and small invertebrates.  Though unproven, attacks on larger vertebrates, including humans, have been reported in several instances.  One such case involves a fisherman whose leg was allegedly severed by a Giant Wolffish while he was wading in the waters of a shallow stream.


The Giant Wolffish is a prehistoric-looking, elongated and cylindrically shaped species. It has a total of between 13 to 16 dorsal soft rays, and between 8 to 10 anal soft rays. More specifically, the Giant Wolffish has a snout mouth and between 34-39 scales on the lateral line.
The colour of the Giant Wolffish is usually a variation of browns, punctuated by a much lighter base color. A number of vertical stripes across the body and usually tiny spots are also some other notably outstanding features on the Giant Wolffish. The distinct patterning, however, might slightly vary from habitat to habitat.  For instance, the Venezuelan Giant
Wolffish has a patchy pattern while the Amapa variety of Hoplias aimara will be found to have a clean solid pattern.  
The most distinctive and identifying feature, however, is a vertically elongated dark spot located on the opercular membrane or at the far edge of the gill plate.  Juvenile members of the Giant Wolffish species have a more slim appearance and eyes notably too large for their size.
However, this characteristic appearance goes away once the fish attains the 50cm size mark.
The largest species in the hoplias biological family, the Giant Wolffish can grow to up to four feet. On average, however, the Wolffish will be anywhere between 50 and 100 cm long. The maximum recorded weight for a Giant Wolffish is 40kg. On the other hand, the biggest diameter recording for the hoplias aimara species is 39 inches.
Female Giant Wolffish are slightly heavier in build than their male counterparts.


The Giant Wolffish reproduce during the rainy season in their South American habitat; which is in between the months of December and March. A single female, depending on its size, can carry anywhere between 6,000 and 60,000 eggs.


Fish study buffs have described the behavior of the Hoplias aimara as hot and cold. Though some species have been known to be quite shy, their counterparts from other habitats have been known to be extremely aggressive.
While most aquarists think that the Piranha is the most ferocious species, they tend to be disappointed in this belief when they come across the Hoplias aimara.


Scientific studies have established that the Giant Wolf Fish follows predictable migratory patterns across rivers and streams. Cyclical around the year, these movements can extend to more than 100km.

Giant Wolf Fishing
The Giant Wolf will be found in counter current areas of major rivers and creeks. As thus, while planning your fishing endeavor, it is only wise that you start with an area that meets this qualification. The Kourou, Approuaque, Inini, Manury, Ouaqui and Itany Rivers in the French Guiana are good examples of habitats that are well endowed with hoplias aimara.

Giant Wolf Fishing Methods

  • Fishing Rods and Reels

Probably the most common method you’d use for Giant Wolffishing activities, the fishing rod and reel approach is commonplace to many anglers. In determining the best fishing rod and reel to use in your freshwater fishing, one must put into consideration the behavior of the Giant Wolf fish in its specific habitat. Another factor that you should pay attention to is the bait or lure that you are going to use to attract this fantastic creature.
For Giant Wolffishing, a small fish bait will do the trick. Well, considered that the wolf is a most aggressive species that will certainly approach forcefully, an appropriate rod and reel setup is something you don’t want to miss from your fishing gear assortment.
Unless you want to lose both the fish and fishing rod in your endeavor, a thick and strong rod is what you should use.
You should also have a reel that matches your fishing rod specifications. This makes sure that your whole Giant Wolffish capture operation is choreographed where each part works in collaboration with the other.

  • Net Fishing

Considered that they have predictable migratory patterns, Giant Wolves can be caught using fishing nets. However, to succeed with this approach, the angler needs to understand the factors surrounding the movement of the fish across streams and rivers in different times of the year.

  • Hand Line Fishing

A traditional method of fishing, hand line fishing, is common among local fishermen in South American villages. This approach involves attaching hooked bait (usually a small fish) to a line. In addition, a weight and floater attachment is also added to complete the setup. While this is considered a rather ‘adventurous’ approach in trying to catch the aggressive Giant Wolffish, it is quite risky. The angler should set up the line well enough so that it gains enough strength to withstand the force of the leaping prey.

Sports Fishing
The Giant Wolffish is a popular game fish among many fishing enthusiasts. An adventure involving the ferocious leaps of this species is the desire of one too many anglers. To facilitate sports fishing, dozens of fishing charters are available that organize expeditions into known Giant Wolffish habitats.
Most of these fishing companies arrange for multi-species outings. However, it is still possible to get one that focuses primarily on the Giant Wolffish; albeit at a higher cost.
Among others, below are some of the areas where Giant Wolffishing tour operators are rampant:

  • The Amazon Rainforest

Several private and public organizations in Brazil and Venezuela offer amazon rainforest fishing packages. Instead of just going out alone in your endeavor to catch the Giant Wolffish, making arrangements with an amazon rainforest angling company will make everything much easier for you. To start with, such organizations conduct regular research to establish fish habitats at different times of the year and will thus provide appropriate guidance to make your fishing much easier and accomplishable.

  • Fishing in Guyana

Guyana’s fresh waters are a bursting habitat of various varieties of fishes. Sports fishing is a relatively new tourist attraction in this country. However, with its un-spoilt waters and unchartered river terrains, Guyana has become quite a hub for many fishing tour operators.
Usually, the best time of the year to go fishing in Guyana is between the periods of late April and the days of late August. During this particular time, the rains have usually ceased and the water declined from the forest floors. This makes fishing easier for anglers since less water means less space for fish, which in turn translates to more competition for food and survival in which case a bait fish will be most welcome!

  • Suriname Sports Fishing

Suriname is also another popular tropical sports fishing destination. The Anjoemara Fish is popular in Suriname as a fighter to catch and a tasty source of meat.
Most fishing habitats in Suriname are rainforest creeks with relatively low water heights. Anglers love the Suriname Giant Wolffish because of its will to fish back to whoever wants to capture it!
The Anjoemara Dam is currently also another great hub for fishing enthusiasts. This site also provides anglers with provisions to track fishing catches and create fishing groups with friends. In addition, they also run fishing contests.

Commercial Giant Wolffish Fishing

The Giant Wolffish is not commonly fished on a commercial basis. However, for those companies interested in doing so, the only way is by consulting the officials of the target country for licenses, fishing guidelines and possible commercial fishing fees.

Giant Wolf Conservation Status

In the last few decades, populations of the Hoplias aimara have been fairly depleted in South American rivers due to their popularity among local fishermen as a source of tasty meat.  For instance, Giant Wolffishing in the high altitude rivers of Nassau and Lely Mountains is a part time activity of vital interest to the locals. The Maroon villagers of Suriname use methods such as bow and arrow, fish poisoning, hook-and-line to capture the Giant Wolffish. Still, Giant Wolf Fishing in most South American habitats is not carried out on a commercially extensive basis. As a result, the Hoplias aimara is not yet an endangered species, and has thus not yet been listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In addition, the tropical rainforest habitats of the Giant Wolffish have not yet been subjected to massive damming, pollution and other harmful human activities that threaten aquatic life. However, in Brazil, Venezuela and other South American countries, conservation agencies are also conducting studies on better ways to make sure that the species does not face extinction in the near future.

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