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Peacock Bass Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Tuesday, 23 April 2013. Posted in Fish Info

These tropical, freshwater fish belong to the genus Cichla of the Cichlidae family and they are natives of the Amazon River in South America. After being introduced into Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Peacock Bass are thriving in these warm waters. There are fifteen known Peacock Bass varieties and two are as yet unnamed. Anglers in Florida love targeting Peacock Bass and have great success.

The Speckled Peacock Bass is the largest, growing up to 100cm in length, and the Royal Peacock Bass is the smallest reaching a maximum length of 55cm. Most species of Peacock Bass have three wide vertical stripes on their bodies that tend to fade in late adulthood. In addition, there is a very distinctive, colorful spot on their tails that closely resemble the eye on a peacock’s tail feathers. On the forehead of all adult males is a very pronounced hump. Other physical characteristics vary according to species, habitat, individuals and stage of development. For example, some may display dark rosettes instead of stripes, have light speckles and stunning bright green, blue, orange and gold coloring.

These beautiful fish have been introduced into rivers, lakes and estuaries both intentionally and accidentally. Gatun Lake in Panama was populated with Peacock Bass when a flood caused a nearby breeder to lose some of his fry in the creek. In Florida, they were introduced in the hope of devastating populations of other non-native species that were wreaking havoc on the eco-systems. Now, they are being identified as problem pests themselves. Peacock Bass are unable to tolerate low water temperatures, which has prevented them from becoming abundant outside of Florida. Regardless of how Peacock Bass came to be where they are, sports fishing enthusiasts take full advantage of the opportunities they provide, being an incredibly popular game fish that attracts anglers from all over the world.

Fantastic fighters, Peacock Bass are also known as “Freshwater Bullies”. They are highly aggressive, ferocious hunters and often damage fishing gear during their strikes, sometimes completely destroying it. They are not shy and anglers delight in the battle they offer. Any Peacock Bass over 5lbs should not be grabbed by the lip. They are violent thrashers and you can easily drop them or injure yourself. Rather use a gripping tool with a safety strap around your wrist. Here is some information that can help you when Peacock Bass fishing in Florida:

Tackle for Peacock Bass

Fairly light spinning or baitcast tackle works extremely well for the smaller Butterfly Peacock Bass. The larger ones need sturdier 30lbs braided line. A thicker braid may be desired for insurance if casting large lures. A 25lbs fluorocarbon leader is a good idea, although maybe not entirely necessary. Greater abrasion resistance is never a bad idea and these fish are not line shy. Good quality rods and reels are a necessity.

Bait for Peacock Bass

As with Largemouth Bass, a variety of lures and baits can be used to catch Peacock Bass. Interestingly, they will not strike plastic worms or lizards, which are widely used by anglers for other bass species. Flies are used successfully when fly fishing and live bait works well depending on where you are. In the Amazon, this does not work because piranhas devour your bait within seconds. In Florida, Panama and elsewhere, small sardine-like fish give brilliant results.

Techniques for Peacock Bass

Fly fishing for these awesome fish is increasing in popularity, using convincing flies and lures such as poppers and large streamers. Here are a few lures that work exceptionally well and how to use them correctly:

  • Large topwater propeller lures are popular for the really big fish, particularly in the Amazon. Although you will have less strikes, Peacock Bass will literally explode the water when they go for it and this alone is worth giving up a few strikes. The rip-pause-rip method works best and the rips should be at least 2ft or 3ft so that you can throw up much spray.
  • Bucktail jigs are possibly the highest percentage lures for Peacock Bass. They work for big fish and smaller ones. This lure promises high action. Rip for a few feet before letting it sink slowly and repeat two or three times before reeling in.
  • Jerkbaits fished correctly can catch some nice Peacock Bass. Erratic fishing with quick jerks is the best way to use them. These work particularly well for Butterfly Peacock Bass in Hawaii, Panama and Florida
  • Zara spook type lures work in quiet areas where large propeller type lures may be too noisy for the fish.

Call today to book your Peacock Bass Fishing Charter in Florida and thrill in the fight.

About the Author

Capt. Noah

Capt. Noah

Noah is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain and PADI divemaster. He grew up in South Florida and has a passion for all things involving water. He is one of the rare bread of boaters who loves sailing and power boating. Noah sails competitvely and enjoys travelling, photography, and cooking. 


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