- Sports and Recreation
Peacock Bass Fishing - Florida, with Fishing Videos
peacock bass fishing trips - Florida
Bass fishing in Florida is legendary. Many bass anglers believe the next world record will come from the Sunshine State, and based on the size and the number of lunkers that the state has been producing over the past decade, this assumption has some merit. Fishermen come from all over to Florida for bass fishing trips, and Florida fishing guides have a brisk business.
While the large majority of bass fishing trips in Florida target the largemouth bass, there’s another finned resident that’s getting a lot of attention: the peacock bass. Peacock bass fishing is gaining in popularity every year, as more and more anglers discover this beautiful, feisty fish and search for locations for peacock bass fishing trips. What some fishermen still haven’t discovered, however, is that you don’t have to go out of the U.S. for great peacock bass fishing trips. South Florida provides some great peacock bass fishing, so you won’t need a passport!
What’s a peacock bass?
Peacock bass are freshwater cichlids that are native to the Amazon River basin. There are several species of peacock bass, with the largest reaching lengths of over three feet. The fish are very attractive, with a pronounced “eye” on the tail that looks like the ones on the tail feathers of a peacock. Most peacock bass also have three bold vertical stripes on their sides.
Peacock bass grow at an alarming pace and can weigh more than a pound on their first birthday. In shape, they’re similar to a largemouth bass, but they’re much more colorful. A single individual might display shades or green, blue, yellow, orange, and gold.
Because the peacock bass is a tropical species, it can’t live in cooler waters. As a result, the only two states in the U.S. that provide peacock bass fishing are Hawaii and Florida.
Peacock bass fishing – an overview
Peacock bass fishing is done in much the same way as largemouth bass fishing. Peacock bass are voracious feeders and have a well deserved reputation as line-breakers. They attack prey with a vengeance and hit like a freight train. Once hooked, they put up an amazing fight, with sizzling runs, powerful leaps, and jumps. And just when you think you’ve worn the fish down, it will find renewed strength at the last moment, just when you’re about to land your prize.
Because the fish will hit just about anything a largemouth will hit, other than plastic worms, peacock bass fishing can be done with artificial baits or live baitfish. Peacock bass fishing with fly rods is also popular with some anglers.
For peacock bass fishing with baitcasters and spinning reels, use tough gear loaded with 120-150 yards of 15 to 25-pound line if you’re hoping to land a big peacock in South America. The world record butterfly peacock weighed 12 punds, 9 ounces and was caught in Venezuela. The world record speckled peacock weighed in at a whopping 27 pounds and was landed in Brazil. You won't need gear this heavy for peacock bass fishing in Florida, but you will need something more substantial than your Mickey Mouse rod and reel. Even though the Florida state record peacock bass weighed in at just over nine pounds, there have been several reports of fish that weighed over twelve pounds. Also, ounce for ounce, the peacock is much stronger than the largemouth bass. Some anglers prefer braided line for peacock bass fishing, while others like to use monofilament line.
If you’re using artificial baits for peacock bass fishing, most traditional bass baits will work, just make sure they’re noisy. These include rapalas, spoons, and jigs. Topwater lures like woodchoppers and Zara spooks are among the favorites. The lures should be retrieved in a quick, erratic motion to entice strikes.
Good underwater artificial baits for peacock bass fishing include crank baits, jigs with streamers, diving lures, spoons, and any lures that resemble baitfish. As with topwater baits, use a fast retrieve with most of these baits. If you’re fishing with a spoon among thick cover, use a slower retrieve.
When flyfishing for peacock bass, try large streamers and poppers on sinking line. Epoxy minnows are also an excellent choice when flyfishing for peacock bass.
Live baits are deadly for peacock bass fishing, with shiners as the top choice. Keep in mind, however, that some Florida fishing guides will not allow their clients to use live bait.
Peacock bass fishing in Florida is productive year round during daylight hours. Don't try night fishing for peacock bass, however - they feed only in the daytime.
An added bonus to peacock bass fishing in Florida is that you'll also have a chance to land a largemouth bass with the same baits. It's a win-win situation!
Where to go for peacock bass fishing trips
In the mid-1970s, fish and game experts in Florida began studying peacock bass. Two species, the butterfly peacock bass and the speckled peacock bass, were studied for a decade. In 1984, these two species were introduced into the waters of southern Florida for two reasons. One was to help control invasive fish species like the Oscar, and another was to provide anglers with peacock bass fishing opportunities.
The butterfly peacock bass is flourishing in three Florida counties: Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach. The speckled peacock bass have not done nearly as well. Many canals and lakes in these areas contain healthy populations of butterfly peacock bass. In Broward and Dade counties, there are over 300 miles of canals to fish for peacocks. Some of the most productive are Snake Creek, Black Creek, Mowry Canal, Pompano Canal, Cutler Drain Canal, and anywhere along the Timiami Canal system.
Several lakes in South Florida are also great sites for peacock bass fishing trips. A few favorites are Lake Mahar, Glide Angle Lake, McDonald Lake, Blue Lagoon, and Hidden Lake. Everglades Conservation Areas 2 and 3 in the north sections of the Everglades also hold peacock bass.
How to choose Florida fishing guides
Peacock bass in Florida aren’t that hard to find, but they’re often difficult to access. Many canals are in urban or residential areas, so you need a working knowledge of the area. Your best bet for peacock bass fishing trips is to hire Florida fishing guides.
You’ll find numerous Florida fishing guides who specialize in peacock bass fishing. A good way to narrow down your search is to use the internet. One difference among Florida fishing guides is whether they practice only catch-and-release, or whether you’ll be allowed to keep a peacock bass for the table. These fish are delicious, with sweet, mild flesh that tastes a lot like grouper.
Another way to choose Florida fishing guides is to read the testimonials made by their former clients. These are often posted on websites. Also, some Florida fishing guides offer a no fish-no pay policy. In other words, if you don’t catch a peacock bass, you don’t have to pay for the peacock bass fishing trips.
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