Best Live Bait For Peacock Bass

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering the best live bait for Peacock Bass to launch at this year. Now I have to admit to being a traditional bait user for most of my fishing life as I like to find a good spot and then see what I can attract. Of course there is maybe not the excitement of attracting and working a fish as there is with lures, however it can be just as much fun for sure.

There are however other aspects to it such as matching the bait to the location and presenting it in a manner that will make it attractive to the fish – an absolute must when chasing Peacock Bass – as well. The thing then is that there are so many different factors to consider that it can all get a bit confusing after a while. So let’s check it all out…

What is Livebait?

For the purposes of this post I am going to give the name live bait to anything that is, or has at some point been alive (often referred to as ‘natural bait’). This means that it can actually be alive (often kept in an aerated cooler for example), fresh but dead or even frozen. This is opposed to lures, which are artificial creations designed to mimic live bait.

Obviously the type you choose will vary based on local conditions however when it comes to using live bait, I would stick to the following two rules:

  1. Use local bait if possible – Peacock Bass love structure and are commonly caught around concrete or rocky structures such as bridges, culverts and underwater outcrops – so as with Largemouth Bass they will venture out if a nice piece of bait can attract their attention.
  2. Go to a local bait shop – In most cases, the local bait and tackle shops will sell bait that is good for local conditions. If in doubt, ask the shop keeper or a local.
best live bait for Peacock Bass - Peackock Bass

Bait Pros

  • You can match exactly to what fish eat naturally
  • Generally easy to use
  • Often cheaper than lures
  • Most fish will take a bait
  • You can cast and let the bait sit in the water (i.e. no need to cast and retrieve)
  • Bait is great for kids (meaning they can at least catch something)

Bait Cons

  • It is smelly and gets all over your clothes, tackle box and everything else take with you
  • Will deteriorate in the sun
  • Fish tend to swallow the hook more with bait (making catch and release more difficult)
  • You can lose a lot more to smaller or vermin species
  • Bait can come off hook easier in faster moving water
  • You need to make more tools with you such as a knife and cutting board

My recommended livebait options for Peacock

Although they are a little more fussy than other species, if they are hungry Peacock Bass will take just about anything in the bait fish category that is found in their local habitat including Shads, Minnows, Bluegill and Shiners.  And although they do tend to share habitats in the U.S with Largemouth Bass, they don’t tend to go for worms or crustaceans as much – although there are always exceptions to this rule I am sure.

So in terms of achieving the greatest success here, Peacock Bass tend to take three live bait options over anything else.  These are:

  • Golden Shiners (by a mile)
  • Shads
  • Minnows

Let’s check them out in more detail below:

Golden Shiners

best live bait for Peacock Bass - Golden Shiner

Golden Shiners are by far the most commonly used and popular baitfish for catching Peacock Bass. As the name suggests they are a golden color with a lateral line that curves down into the lower third of its body. Part of the Minnow species, they are native to eastern North America including some waters in Florida.

They are one of the most commonly used baitfish and due to this are widely pond-cultured to maintain their stocks for Bass fishers all over the country. Oh, and Peacock Bass LOVE them so if you have a choice, try these first.

American Shad

Best Bait For Largemouth Bass- Shad

As the name suggests, American Shad is another species native to North America. These are actually ocean based however as the waters warm inland, they return to freshwater rivers to breed – which is where Peacock Bass will be. This occurs in a south to north pattern along the east coast of the U.S. commencing in Georgia in January, the waters tributary to Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds in march, the Potomac in April and northern streams from Delaware to Canada in May and June.

As with Yellow Perch, full-grown Shad are a good catching and table fish in their own right however as they school as juveniles, they make good livebait for Peacock Bass in the months covering late Spring and Summer as above.


Best Bait For Largemouth Bass - Minnow

Related to the Golden Shiner above, Minnows are a genuine baitfish with a very high tolerance for variable water qualities making it a common species in many warm water locations shared with Peacock Bass. Variations include:

  • Bluntnose Minnow
  • Common Shiner
  • Emerald Shiner
  • Top Minnow

Due to their abundance in many areas, Minnows are another favorite for Peacock Bass fishers year round.

What should you be looking for?

As you look to source and use your own livebait, below are some things that you may want to consider when using bait for Peacock Bass:

Where the fish are – We have touched on this above however the type of bait you choose can depend on where you are trying to catch your fish. For example if you are working in deeper waters, then you mat want to add a little weight to your line – especially is Peacock Bass like to hide under structure. Keep in mind here that unlike lures, you are generally not casting and retrieving a bait so you will need to match your bait to the species that are found in that area.

Weight requirements – Bait weight, usually determined by the size or amount of bait you use, is important for a number of reasons including:

  • Heavier baits can be cast a little further – this may include rigging with a sinker.
  • Heavier baits will anchor and drag on the bottom more effectively (which is good if you are in a kayak or on a boat).
  • Lighter baits will float better than their heavier counterparts – which is good if you are in shallower water, or where there is a little current. In these cases try a live bait on an un-weighted hook .

Again, do your research into the environment that you are fishing in. If you are working in shallower waters, then a light weighted bait will work very well. Heaver options may be needed in deeper areas however they will ‘catch’ on the bottom a lot more often and fall off if you are drifting.

Rod specifications – The next consideration (and a very important one) is to ensure that any bait size you use fits within the specification details of your fishing rod. In some cases, rod specs include a tackle weight which is the highest designated weight that the rod can handle.

In most cases, however, you are going to be looking at this from the power rating of the rod. This is effectively a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy ones need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:

  • Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish. Use these for light baits only.
  • Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – In general, this is a good measure for all-round use with light to medium-weighted baits for Bass fishing.
  • Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – I would probably avoid these for Peacock Bass fishing unless you are working in particularly deep water or want to jig in a boat.

Tackle Requirements

In general, the main rule of thumb when it comes to using bait is to match your hook to its size. As Peacock Bass have big mouths I would err on the side of a larger hook as well meaning you will avoid getting caught up with smaller species.

Stick to a 1/0 to 2/0 circle hook with a bait size to match with the hook set through the snout of your baitfish on a running sinker or running float rig.

Local knowledge – As mentioned a number of times in this post, when I discuss live bait options for any fishing type, I always say to check with the locals to see what is found in the local system. The idea behind this is that you want to match your bait to what it is that the fish eat naturally.


What is the best live bait for Peacock Bass?

For Peacock Bass, it is live baitfish all the way. Like most species, they will take whatever is in front of them if they are hungry however for best results stick the the big three: Golden Shiners, Shads or minnows. They don’t mind the odd Bluegill from time to time either.

How do you rig a live bait for Peacock Bass?

In most cases, fishing for Peacock with live bait will work best if you let it swim around mid-water close to structure. Hook it through the snout and off it goes. If you want to keep it closer to the surface, then a floats can be added to the line to keep track of things. This will also help you see when a bait has been hit too.

best live bait for Peacock Bass - Peackock Bass in water


And there it is – my post covering the best bait for Peacock Bass this year. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.