If you are the keen fisherman that I am assuming you are, then you certainly don’t need me to tell you just how satisfying and exhilarating fly fishing for peacock bass can be! Originating in Brazil throughout the Amazon and Orinoco rivers but also commonly found in the warm water areas of North America such as Miami and other Florida locations, the peacocks are a fish that every angler, both amateur and professional, dreams about catching at least once in their fishing lives.
Of course, like any other species, the peacock bass can be particular and complicated, and for that very reason it can be more difficult to catch than some of the more generic and well-known inhabitants of the sea and Florida lakes. If you are looking to set your own personal cichla catching record, then keep on reading for one of the best guides to Florida peacock bass available.
Without further ado, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about all things cichla, starting with the fact that cichla is another name for the Florida peacock bass that you are so eager to reel in!
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What is a Peacock Bass?
First off, let’s start with the most basic of questions, what even is a peacock bass? Well, a peacock bass is a large cichlid. It’s a predatory freshwater fish that as previously mentioned is native to the big South American river basins.
Despite the similar name, peacock bass are not closely related to the other fish that we know more commonly as bass like the North American largemouth bass, for example. They get their name because their scales are beautifully iridescent with the same colours we associate with the peacock bird.
Due to their size and locations, peacock bass are considered both important food fish and game fish. Like any kind of game fish, a number of fish farm escapes and fishermen releases have led to the species migrating from the Amazon and Orinoco to swamp and lake territory across South America, warm regions of North America, and even as far as Asia. Several single fish are known to have been caught in Australia but there is no evidence of them becoming established there.
They are a large fish with arguments contending that either the speckled peacock bass or the African giant cichlid is the biggest of the cichla family. The largest speckled peacock bass can grow to 1 metre in length and up to 30 pounds in weight.
This fish can be kept in an aquarium, but it requires a big tank and it is likely to prey on smaller fish it is housed with.
What is the biggest Peacock Bass ever caught?
As of 2019, the largest known peacock bass catch in the world took place in Brazil in the waters of the Rio Negro. Anglers had a prosperous day when they reeled in a 28-pound monster.
The quality and composition of the rivers of the exotics make them perfect for bass fishing, and Iowa based Bill Gassmann was truly the captain of the Rio Negro on that particular day! The fish was a great find, beating the previous world record for peacock bass fishing by a full pound. As keen fishermen yourselves, you know how important things like an extra pound can be! (It was thissss big – honestly!)
Where do you find Peacock Bass?
If you are looking into planning trips to make a golden catch of your own, then your best bet – and the most accessible – is to head to the American South, most particularly the canals, fresh waterways, and lakes of Florida. The peacock is a fish that flourishes in freshwater and these warmer water climates are perfect for them.
Due to their tropical origins, the fish cannot tolerate a colder water temperature, so any local environment in which they can survive needs to be on the hotter, more tropical side. The best places for reports of abundant bass in canals and other spots are Palm Beach, Miami-Dade Counties, and Broward.
How do you catch a Peacock Bass?
That’s the million-dollar question, don’t you think? Of course, in order to catch any type of large fish, you need to have an amount of natural talent when it comes to fishing, but there are certainly a number of things that you can utilise in order to give yourself the best chance.
When trying to snag a fish coming up above the 20-pound mark, it is always wise to opt for large lures that have a much thicker braid for that extra bit of insurance. Peacocks bass aren’t especially ‘line shy’, so picking the right kind of lure can have you catching a bite very soon after casting in the right places.
What bait should be used?
Depending on where you are fishing for bass, baits can sometimes be a little bit tricky. Fishing in the Amazon, for example, can make bait fishing difficult because you have piranhas to contend with. If away from the Amazon and in slightly calmer waters or a lake/canal, then you might want to consider using a small sardine-esque baitfish. That size of bait should be ideal for attracting a small to medium-sized bass, especially Florida peacock.
What flies should be used?
Peacock bass are generally caught using lures throughout the Amazon. If you are looking to attract the large side of the freshwater species, then a large topwater propeller lure is the thing to use. This can be an explosive and exciting way to fish, and the sheer amount of bass that you attract with this method can often be worth the effort.
But, here at Fly Fisher Pro, we like to focus on fly fishing. There’s nothing quite like that pull of a strong fish on the fly! You can basically use a lot of the same flies that you would for regular bass fishing. See here the best flies for bass fishing article where we detail some of the best!
Where are the best places to catch Peacock Bass?
So now you know the rough geographical areas where peacock bass are most commonly found, but what about the precise locations within these destinations? Having knowledge of the exact places can be the difference between a fruitful day or a fruitless one.
When thinking about the rich and abundant waters of South Florida, it is very likely that you are going to be able to find peacock bass near every kind of bridge, spillway, seawall, or shoreline that is connected to the canals and urban waterways. This is a very wide and ranging list, so the general advice is to cover as much ground as possible in your hunt for the perfect bass catch.
The good thing is that since the majority of canals and lakes in Miami are generally very clear, the vibrant and bright colours of the peacock bass can often be seen very easily. They have the reputation of being a fish that doesn’t shy away from making itself clearly visible and known!
If you don’t necessarily want to do a lot of potentially aimless searching for peacock bass, then feel free to download one of the many fishing community apps that reveal the best spots for certain species. Users map out where they have had the best experience, and these are shared with everyone in order to direct anglers to be the best locations for their specific fishing goals.
What to look for at a fishing location?
When you reach your desired spot, the general advice is that you search for deep drop-offs close to hard structures like boulders, limestone, or large cement surfaces along shorelines.
Experts have also expressed that they have had a lot of good luck with peacock bass when fishing in deeper water underneath lily pads that tend to line shorelines or seawalls.
One of the most important tips to remember is that peacock bass tend to favour clear water, but this doesn’t stop them also being found on occasion in low visibility areas that have been affected by tidal flow, cloud cover, or even limited pollution.
The best trick for identifying rich bass areas in the water during periods of low light or low visibility is to search for the signature bright orange colour of their anal fins.
When is the best time to catch a Peacock Bass?
The good thing about targeting peacock bass is that they can be caught at pretty much any time of the year. That being said, March can be singled out as the most ideal month as that is the month when the fish prepare to spawn. In general, the most active times for peacock fishing occur between the months of March and June.
During the brightest and hottest days of the year, groups of bass will most likely show up and feed together, to a much greater degree than with the largemouth bass, for example.
It is important to note the peacock bass do not feed in the dark or through the night. Early morning is generally as successful as early evening, but the prime time for catching peacock bass is undoubtedly in the middle of a hot, bright, sunny day. The peacock bass certainly isn’t a fish that you need to be getting up at the crack of dawn for!
So, to summarise, it’s fair to say that the peacock bass is a fish that is popular to catch and easy to find, providing you know what location to set up in and which equipment to use!
They are sustainable fish that is growing in population, so the freedom to fish peacock bass is something that we should all be taking advantage of if we live in the correct destinations and climates.
The peacock bass is a beautiful, lively, hard fighting fish that provides great competition for the angler; it is the perfect balance between fun and a real test of fishing prowess.
Hopefully this guide has given you important insights into what kind of bait and lures to use for best results, along with tips for the locations and things to look out for to make sure that you are in the best place possible to make a catch.
Confidence and perseverance is key, as with any kind of skill-based hobby and activity. Find a spot of deep, clear water near a lily pad or shoreline and get ready to battle it out. The middle of a warm day is the absolute best time to catch a peacock bass. They are going to put up a good fight, but with the right bait or artificial lures, you are always going to come out on top. May the best fisherman win!
If you have any further or more specific questions about the fine art of peacock bass fishing, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Leave a comment down below and we will get back to you in no time, not to mention the members of this great online community will probably have a few helpful words for you as well.