Although they have the word Bass in their name, Peacock Bass are actually a member of the cichlid family and native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. They are a prized game fish due to their penchant for putting up a fight as well as being very popular on the dinner table as well.
There a a number of sub species of Peacock Bass found in their native South America as follows:
- Royal peacock bass – Cichla intermedia
- Jari peacock bass – Cichla jariina
- Kelberi peacock bass – Cichla kelberi
- Xingu peacock bass – Cichla melaniae
- Tapajós peacock bass – Cichla mirianae
- Monoculus peacock bass, tucanare peacock bass – Cichla monoculus
- Butterfly peacock bass – Cichla ocellaris
- Orinoco peacock bass – Cichla orinocensis
- Spotted peacock bass – Cichla pinima
- Blue peacock bass – Cichla piquiti
- Lake Gatun peacock – Cichla pleiozona
- Speckled pavon, speckled peacock bass, three-barred peacock bass – Cichla temensis
- Trombetas peacock bass – Cichla thyrorus
- Vazzoler’s peacock bass – Cichla vazzoleri
As above, Peacock Bass are native to the upper western parts of South America around Brazil. A smaller number of species including the Butterfly and Speckled Peacock Bass have also been introduced to the continental U.S. is Southern Florida.
They have also been introduced to other parts of Brazil and Panama however have been categorized as an invasive species in many of these areas. They have also recently been found without explanation in parts of Australia.
Peacock Bass are cosnidered one of the largest (if not the largest) of the cichlid species however maintain some of the common characteristics including flowing fins and a pronounced hump on the foreheads of larger males.
Their name comes from the distinguished spot on their tail fin that resembles the eyes on a peacocks tail feathers. Other physical traits vary from type to type however include dark rosettes, stripes and light speckles. Colors also include shades of bright green, orange, blue, and gold.
The largest of the species is the Speckled Bass that can grow up to 3ft in length weighing up to 29lb (13kg).
Average 6 – 10 years (up to 15 years)
Spawning occurs April through September with a peak in the warmer months of May and June. Peacock Bass are nest builders with both partners building a nest on a flat surface near the shore. both parents then guard the nest for a period of up to 7 months.
Peacock Bass, like many fish, are carnivorous and feed on the options available to them within their immediate habitats. They love live bait such as Shiners, Panfish and Minnows and will take other live baits as well but generally do not go after other creatures such as worms or crustaceans etc. (although I am sure there are exceptions to this rule somewhere – haha).
World Record Size
The largest reported world record Peacock Bass was caught by Rodrigo Moreira Salles in Rio Marie, Brazil. This world record stands at 91 cm in length weighing in at 12.6lb.
Peacock Bass Seasons
As Peacock Bass do not live in cooler climates (which is why they have only really be successfully introduced into southern Florida waters) they can be caught all year round. The best times for catching them however is in the warmer months of February to June to coincide with their spawning seasons.
Many fishers chasing Peacock Bass also report catching Largemouth Bass in the same locations as well.
It should be noted here that many jurisdictions implement seasonal restrictions and well as licensing and bag limit regulations as well.
Best Gear for Catching Peacock Bass
In most cases, the same rigs used for catching Largemouth Bass can be used for Peacock Bass as follows:
Fly rod and reel
Rod – around 7ft and matching of reel size
Although due to strict bag limits and stock protection behaviors where many fish for Peacock Bass on a catch and release basis, they are actually a very popular table fish with a white, sweet tasting flesh similar to many saltwater species such as Snapper and Grouper. They are also much less boney than many other species making them easy to fillet as well.
As per most white meated species, they are best eaten by filleting and then:
- Pan frying
- Deep frying
- Baking (whole)
They can technically be eaten raw however they do not taste the best prepared in this method due to the lack of oil in their flesh (which is why they are so popular cooked).
Check out some more information in regards to eating Peacock Bass here.