October 8, 2019
South Florida offers some of the best fishing in the country. From spectacular offshore species, to a seemingly endless number of freshwater lakes filled with Largemouth Bass, there’s really nothing quite like it. The unique thing about fishing South Florida freshwater lakes and rivers is the variety of Largemouth Bass and Peacock Bass available. Both are favorites among Bass fishermen/women, and both have large fan-bases that advocate their superiority. But what makes these two stand out among the rest?
Here’s everything you wanted to know about the differences and similarities between Largemouth Bass and Peacock Bass (also known as Butterfly Peacock). These two are actually more like distant relatives than cousins, as the Peacock Bass is technically a cichlid, not a bass. This actually determines a lot of their differences, so let’s take a look at these two fan-favorites.
The Largemouth Bass is a popular freshwater game fish that belongs to the Centrachidae (sunfish) family. It’s part of the black bass species, native to Eastern and Central United States and introduced to numerous lakes across the country. The unique identifier of Largemouth Bass is, obviously, the mouth. The upper jaw reaches far beyond the rear margin of the eye, and they have an impressive underslung jaw. They are typically olive-green to gray-green colored and marked with dark blotches horizontally from head to tail on the top half of their body, and light green to almost white on the bottom. Largemouth Bass can grow as large as 25 inches and reach over 20 pounds.
The Peacock Bass, as mentioned earlier, is technically not in the Bass family. It’s part of the cichlid family and is native to the Amazon, Brazil, and other South American countries. They were introduced to South Florida in 1984 to prey on other non-native species, Tilapia and Oscar. This introduction has helped stabilize the ecosystem and created a viable Peacock Bass fishery in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties of South Florida. Although the Peacock Bass is part of the cichlid family, it has a bass-like shape and large mouth with underslung jaw, so it’s easy to understand why it gets associated with Bass. The Peacock Bas is yellow or olive-green with vertical black bar on its side and is identified by large black spots at the beginning of its tail. The spots look remarkably like the “eye” of a peacock… hence the name. They average 2-7 pounds in the South Florida area, and have been known to grow upwards of 15. Peacock approaching 30 pounds have been caught in South America.
When fishing the several lakes of South Florida, you’re sure to find Largemouth Bass hiding among grass, vegetation, and underwater roots or rocks. They prefer calm, quiet waters and are usually solitary fish; although you will find a small congregation near a food supply. Largemouth Bass are carnivorous predators who feed on small fish like minnows, perch, and sunfish. They also enjoy crayfish, insects, and frogs. It’s best to keep these in mind when you’re selecting your bait and lures for your Largemouth Bass fishing excursion.
Throughout the freshwater canals, rivers, and lakes of South Florida, the Peacock Bass likes to hide along the edges of the waterways where brush and trees provide hiding spots. They prefer clean, calm waters and do not do well in brackish water where saltwater mixes with freshwater. Peacock Bass are also very particular about the water temperature, making the warmer South Florida water temperatures perfect for them. Unlike Largemouth Bass, they are often found together in schools, although studies show that they wander from school to school. They have a similar diet to Largemouth Bass and the two often compete with each other for food. Which is why anglers will often target one species, and end up with the other.
Because the two are very similar in when they are active and what they eat, we are able to combine the best fishing techniques for both Peacock Bass and Largemouth Bass. Feeding habits are determined by the time of day, weather, and temperatures (both air and water). These two species are more active early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And while Largemouth Bass and Peacock Bass provide good fishing opportunities twelve months of the year, the cooler temperatures of Spring and Fall are considered peak season.
When preparing your tackle for Largemouth Bass or Peacock Bass fishing, keep in mind that the most common lures include plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and spoons. And although anglers use artificial lures more often than not, other bait options include nightcrawlers, small shad, or crayfish. Once on the hook, Peacock Bass are known to be stronger fighters than Largemouth Bass pound-for-pound, but both are known for jumping and thrashing in an attempt to throw the hook.
When fishing for Largemouth Bass, keep in mind that they are strictly catch-and-release. However, you’re allowed to harvest the Peacock Bass, up to two a day and only one of which can be longer than 17 inches. So whether you’re fishing the lakes, canals, or rivers of South Florida, make sure you’re following regulations, no matter what you find at the end of your hook.
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