Catch Peacock Bass (Tips and Tricks for Success)

Catch Peacock Bass (Tips and Tricks for Success)

by | Apr 22, 2017 | Catch Freshwater Fish, Fishing, Freshwater, Peacock Bass | 0 comments

Catching Peacock Bass should be on the top of your list if you live or are visiting the south Florida area. Peacock bass are high octane colorful fish that anglers chase year around in the tri county areas. Keep reading to learn about the tips and tricks to catching more peacock bass.

Growing up in Miami in the mid 70’s and 80’s I have been lucky enough to catch this non-native species for a long time.

We still pursue these fish today and have a blast doing so.  There bright color and ability to pull the drag on light set ups make this fish a sought-after predator for a lot of people in the South Florida area.

Let’s look at where these fish inhabit, how they got to South Florida, and what they eat so you can implement these tips and tricks on your next outing.

 

Miami Florida is the Epicenter for Peacock Bass

Airport Lakes - Peacock Bass

What do Peacock Bass look like?

Peacock bass have a very similar shape to a largemouth bass but the colors are brilliant greens, orange, and gold with three vertical black bars that run down the fishes sides.

This fish also possesses a black spot with a yellowish gold circle around the black dot on the tail or caudal fin of the peacock.

Peacock fins are usually bright orange in color and the tips of their caudal fin can also have brilliant blues, especially when there in the water.

What species of peacock bass do we have in the United States?

Depending on where you’re from you may not know that peacock bass cannot tolerate cold weather.  Water temperatures below 60 degrees and these fish cannot survive.  That leaves a very small area for this fish to thrive.

Two species of peacock bass have been introduced into the South Florida water ways.

Butterfly Peacock Bass

Range:  South Florida, Miami, Broward, and Southern Palm Beach counties.

Florida Record: 9 lbs. 8 ounces caught by Jerry Gomez in Dade county

Diet:  Small non-native fish species. (cichlid, oscars, and tilapia) shiners, shad, and any other small fish that lives in its habitat.

Speckled Peacock bass

Range:  South Florida, Miami, Broward, and possible Southern Palm Beach counties.

Special Note:  Speckled peacock bass did not do well in reproducing in the South Florida area.   You cannot kill or harvest one if caught.

Diet:  Small non-native fish species. (cichlid, oscars, and tilapia) shiners, shad, and any other small fish that lives in its habitat.

These bass where introduced to try and control non-native species like spotted tilapia, Midas Cichlid, and Oscar.

The butterfly peacock bass took off and now can be seen and caught in most canals and lakes from Southern palm beach County south.  Miami being the epicenter of this awesome fish.

The speckled peacock never took and because of this you cannot kill or harvest one.

What is the geographical range of a Peacock Bass?

Catch Peacock Bass

Map by U.S. Geological Survey

Peacock bass are originally from tropical waters and not native to Florida they cannot withstand water temperatures that drop below 60 degrees.

Because of this they are isolated to the tri-county area of South Florida.  Miami being the epicenter and followed by Broward and Southern Palm Beach county.

Most large canal system in South Florida will have a good number of peacock bass in them. Some canals are dominated by this fish.

Catch Peacock Bass Tip

These fish cannot tolerate cold water temps.  Fish the southern part of Florida’s Dade, Broward, and Southern Palm Beach canal and lake system.

Ideal temperature for peacock bass?

In our experience the hotter the better for peacock bass.  Like we said before these are tropical native fish and cold water temperatures are not their friend. The hotter the better.

We find some of our best fishing for catching peacock bass are late mornings and well into the afternoon when the suns high.

Catch Peacock Bass Tip

  • These fish cannot tolerate cold water temps.  The hotter the better and summer months when water temps reach in the upper 80’s and low 90’s make these fish feel right at home.
  • Sleep in, fish later in the day.

How big can peacock bass get?

catch peacock bassA typical average fish will weight about 2 to 2 2/2 lbs. However it is not uncommon to catch fish running up to 5 lbs.

The Florida IGFA record butterfly peacock is 9 lbs. 8 ounces caught by Jerry Gomez in Dade county in 1993.

It is reported that these fish can grow up to 1 inc a month and reach about 12 inches in size the first year.

Other IGFA Florida Peacock Records

peacock, popoca     (8 lb 0 oz)     Kendall, Florida, USA      Landed by: Scott Rose
(Cichla monoculus)

Catch Peacock Bass Tip

  • A typical average fish will weigh around 2 lbs
  • Florida butterfly peacock record is 9lbs. 8 ounces.

What habitat do Peacock Bass like?

Photo from University of Florida Plant Management

Peacock bass love structure just like largemouth bass do.  You can find these fish around rocks, brush, lily pads, vegetation, bridge structures, concrete structures, walls, and just about any other place that would hold fish.

Peacock Bass love dead ends with concrete structures.

We have found large numbers of peacocks schooled together around walls in the areas we fish.    Example:  When fishing lakes or large canal systems look for spans where a road would intersect with the canal and a culvert or pipe connects through.  Those walls on each side can produce large number of peacock bass.

What makes Miami and Broward a great area for peacock is the canal systems are deep enough for these fish to make it through a hard-cold snap.  And these counties are the farthest south making them the warmest areas in the country.

Catching peacock bass using these tips

  • Fish dead ends within canals.
  • Fish later in the morning and into the afternoon.
  • Fish shallow.

What live baits will they eat?

Peacock bass aren’t discriminatory feeders.  But other fish are there main food source of the peacock bass and they will eat just about any other smaller fish they can get.

Peacock bass in my opinion are faster and more agile then largemouth bass and rely more on speed and brute force then hiding and attacking prey.

Not that they won’t use this method, but I have seen them chase down other fish more times than I have largemouth bass and for longer distances.

These fish were stocked in Florida canals to control the spotted tilapia and they love them.  But they will eat small sunfish, all other types of cichlid, small Oscar, shiner, shad, and other small non-native fish.

Oscar

The Oscar has been in Florida waters since the 1950’s and is a favorite food item of the peacock bass and one of the main reasons they were introduced to South Florida.

Spotted Tilapia

The spotted tilapia has over run South Florida canals and waterways.  From the 1970’s since they were introduced they have never stopped reproducing and growing.  This is a favorite food source of the peacock bass

African Jewel Cichlid

This colorful fish are really striking and in some cases so exotic looking you don’t want to fish with them.  But peacock bass love them.

Catch Peacock Bass with these live baits

Use small cichlid, oscar and talapia

Use shiner

Use shad

What are the best artificial baits for Peacock bass

We have caught a lot of peacock bass through the years using flukes to swimbaits.   Let us show you some of our favorite baits to help catch peacock bass.

Flukes with weighted heads

One of my favorite baits to throw at these fish as of late are small jig heads on 4 inch flukes.

When presented correct these baits can be fished at all levels of depth and can be fished quick making these fish turn angry and strike.

Catch peacock bass

Spinner Baits Produce

Spinner baits produce fish and can be fished at any depth.  Try buzzing these baits quick at the top over and close to structure.  Recast the bait and let it sink and tic the bottom for fish that are deeper.

These baits have produced a lot of large peacock bass for us.  This baits work very well for nesting peacocks.

largemouth bass tips

Original Rapala

Everyone should own some of the original Rapala baits.  These baits have been producing fish for years and are very versatile.

You can fish them by twitching them at the surface or a quick twitch and sit just under the surface.

These shallow running baits are deadly on peacock and other game fish around the south Florida area.

Catch Peacock Bass

Rattle Trap Baits catch peacock bass

Rattle baits like the original rattle trap drive peacock bass nuts.  These are some of the colors we have had great success with.  There are so many great freshwater colors from rattle trap that we know will produce.  Take a look at their website to see for yourself.   Rattle trap.

Catch Peacock Bass

Throw a fly

Fly fisherman have great success when targeting peacock bass on fly.  There are so many standard fly patters to choose from that can mimic a bait fish you could spend all day looking at options.

A fly just looks great in the water and can be stripped quick making peas go nuts.  Work your baits a little quicker with long and short darts, then pause for a few seconds and strip again, this will produce strikes.

Deceivers with flash or Mylar in them get crushed and seem to be a top bait when it comes to fly fishing.

Here are a few patters that will work.  But believe me, there are countless more patterns that will also produce.

DORADO BABY PEACOCK #4/0

catch peacock bass

Find all of Enrico Puglisi flies

Go directly to the baby peacock 4/0 fly

PEACOCK DECEPTION

catch peacock bass

Find this fly at Umpqua.com

PEACOCK AGITATOR

Catch Peacock Bass

Find this fly at Umpqua.com

This are just some of the artificial baits that will catch peacock bass.  There are many more baits that mimic bait fish that will work great also, just tie one on and give it a try.

Remember peacock love to eat other small fish.  Match the hatch, run your baits a little quicker and hold on, you’ll get tight. Comment on your favorite baits below.

In closing

Peacock bass are a BLAST to catch.  Remember if you live in or around the tri-county area of South Florida these fish are in your backyard.  If you don’t, plan a trip down to South Florida and get tight on some of these amazing fish.

Look up Monster Mike and plan a guided land trip, you wont be disappointed. He fishes and lives in the Miami area and slays this fish year around.  You can reach him by clicking on his website at www.monstermikefishing.com

About The Author

Anthony Arcodia

A Florida Native, Anthony has been a lifelong fisherman and outdoorsman. As a child, he started fishing lakes around the South Florida area chasing bass which quickly spread to chasing snook and tarpon in the 10 thousand islands. Anthony has passed his love of the outdoors and fishing to his son and both continue to enjoy the great outdoors together while pursuing their passion of fishing.

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