November 22, 2019
Those residing outside of South Florida may be unfamiliar with Peacock Bass. This unique fish was introduced in 1984 to South Florida waterways to prey on other non-native species, Tilapia and Oscar, and have balanced out the ecosystem in the past 25 years. They are native to South America, found throughout Brazil and the Amazon.
They are also known as butterfly peacock and speckled peacock bass.
They get their name, “peacock bass”, thanks to the spot on their tail that looks like eyes on a peacock’s feathers. They are a yellow, green and brown color with dark spots or vertical lines along their midsection. The younger ones will have pronounced vertical lines, and some peacock bass will develop a bump on their foreheads before and during their spawning season.
Peacock Bass are not technically bass, although they do have that familiar underslung jaw. They are actually part of the cichlid family. They are freshwater predators that will eat just about anything and can grow up to 20 inches and weigh over 10 pounds. They are known as the largest of all cichlid fishes.
Look for peacock bass among the submerged tree roots and shallow waters of the warm waters in South Florida. They don’t tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees and will migrate toward warmer water when needed. Their primary concern is water temperature. They can also inhabit brackish water (mixture of fresh and saltwater).
It’s very common to find peacock bass throughout the urban canals of South Florida, as well as the Everglades. In the canals they tend to stay along the walls, bridges and docks. In the Everglades they are found near the many mangrove islands.
Throughout the canals, ponds, and lakes of South Florida peacock bass are hiding out, looking for their next meal.
Peacock Bass are not picky eaters and tend to eat smaller fish found near them. They are even known to eat other cichlids, which is why they were introduced to South Florida waters in the first place. They’ll feed on bluegill, threadfin shad, mosquito fish, oscar, and tilapia.
They’ve also been known to feed on crustaceans such as crab and shrimp. This is good news for anglers looking to hook a peacock bass: you can put pretty much anything on a hook and almost certainly get a strike. They are known as aggressive eaters and will eat nearly everything put in front of them.
If you are fishing the clear waters of Miami, it’s easy to sight fish for peacock bass. However, if you’re in the Everglades, it may be a bit trickier. Look for their bright orange and yellow colors near the shallow waters. Live bait tends to work best in any fishing trip, and that’s the same for peacock bass fishing excursions.
Anglers fish for peacock bass throughout the year, however, Spring season is the best time to see consistent hook-ups (February – May), and September is a good month before the water temperatures drop. They are less active on cloudy or rainy days, so keep an eye on the weather. Unlike other species who are more active during the morning or evening hours, peacock bass tend to like the afternoon temperatures and are still active in the sunny afternoons.
Look for them in areas near structure and shade. Use top-water lures such as minnow-like crankbaits or small golden shiners with light tackle. If the peacock bass is in deeper water try a twin-tailed minnow and jig combination. Poppers are also popular lures to get the peacock bass’ attention; it’s like ringing a dinner bell calling them to come eat.
Spinning tackle is commonly used when fishing for peacock bass. Anglers will use rods about 6 to 7 feet long. Baitcasting rods and reels are also used for those who are familiar with this set-up. The reel sits on top of the rod and gives anglers leverage for pulling the fish in. There are others who will fly fish for peacock bass. Flyfishing for peacock bass is much more difficult, but once you’re hooked up you’ll understand why it’s so popular.
Once on the hook, peacock bass are known for putting up a good fight. They are stronger than largemouth bass, but have the same acrobatics. Peacock bass with jump and thrash in attempt to shake the hook free.
The bag limit for peacock bass is two fish per day for each angler, with only one longer than 17 inches. However, the vast majority of anglers practice catch and release while targeting peacock bass.
Fishing for peacock bass is always a great time. The population is abundant in South Florida, and the fish are active on sunny days. Don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat!
Those looking to fish South Florida for peacock bass should have no trouble finding a guide that can hook you up. Especially when starting with a FishAnywhere search. Enter your local city and filter peacock bass, we have several guides in the area that are geared up and ready for your trip. Bring your favorite fishing buddies and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
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