Whether you are an experienced fisherman or just starting out, learning how to catch Peacock can be both a fun and rewarding experience. Although a member of the Bass family by name only, they share their penchant for hitting hard and are often found in the same environments as well.
They can grow very large in size and are extremely popular as both a trophy and table fish making them a must catch target species for many anglers. So, with that, welcome to my 5 tips for catching Peacock Bass this year as we see what we can come up with to assist you in getting them onto the hook and into the net…
What are Peacock Bass?
As touched on above, Peacock Bass are actually not a Bass rather a member of the cichlid family and native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. A smaller number of species including the Butterfly and Speckled Peacock Bass have also been introduced to the continental U.S. is Southern Florida.
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.
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.
Tips for catching Peacock Bass
Ok, so let’s get into some of my tips for catching Peacock Bass below…
1. Find the right spot
Ok, so for this first tip there is a little bit that you will need to be aware of. You are probably aware that Peacock Bass are a freshwater fish only however you should also know that they do not like to be cold. So before you head out, make sure the water is over 60°F or you will not find them there – which would go a long way to explaining why they are only found in Florida in the continental U.S.
The next consideration here whilst we are discussing fishing locations is structure. Just as it is with Largemouth Bass (which are often caught in similar locations), Peacock bass love structure and are commonly caught around concrete or rocky structures such as bridges, culverts and underwater outcrops.
So to sum up here, look for a freshwater lake or canal with some man made or natural structure and you are good to go.
2. Use good gear
Again in similar fashion to chasing Largemouth, Peacock Bass are a hard hitting species and many a catch is lost due to poor, or unsuitable gear. Hence make sure you have good gear comprising a solid reel of around 3000 – 5000 in size with a medium 6 – 7ft rod. Load it with 25lb braid of at least 100yds and a good flouro leader.
Secondly, poorly maintained gear can also lead to a lost fish. So proper maintenance is critical including:
- Maintain your fishing reel – Make sure it is clean with a good quality line. Rinse it off after every use with a full clean and oil after each season.
- Clean your rod – Again, rinse your rod after each session and check for any crack or breakages – especially in the o-rings and guides. Remove the reel and clean the seat, screws and handle every month or so as well.
- Use new tackle – Blunt hooks means no fish. I am a strong advocate of replacing your tackle after every trip. And whilst this is not as important in fresh water fishing as it is in salt, keep in mind that hooks are dragged over rocks, logs and along the bottom meaning they can go blunt even if you don’t catch anything. Lures tend to last a few trips but if possible, I would recommend replacing the trident hooks every few uses as well.
- Check your tools – Tools should also be rinsed after each use however this is not always done. And trust me there is nothing worse than getting out there and finding out your pliers are rusty or knife blunt. Clean and lubricate tools and sharpen your knife every month or so.
3. Use live bait
When it comes to attracting Peacock Bass, live bait is a winner all the way (unless you are fishing for them in South America in waters shared with Piranhas of course). In other waters however, they can’t go past most live bait options found locally such as:
- Baby bass
The trick here however is to make sure that the bait you use not only matches that found naturally within your chosen waterway, but also use something that is fresh as well. The reason for this is that fresh bait will still have the slimy coatings or internal bits that give out the most odor in the water.
Although there are definite exceptions to the rule, Peacock do not tend to go for worms or crustaceans as much as other Bass species found in the same areas.
4. Get back in the water quickly
Although they are not a saltwater species, Peacock Bass share similar behaviors in that they tend to hunt and feed in schools. This means that if you catch one, there is a very good chance that there are more around. In fact again like some saltwater species, they can often be seen following a hooked fish up to the surface too.
The thing to keep in mind here however is that these schools don’t tend to sit dormant for too long. This means that once you get one into the boat, you need to get your line back into the water as soon as possible to take advantage of any feeding frenzy whilst it is still in the area.
My recommendation here then is to have another rod setup ready to go just in case you lose a hook or something during the landing of your previous catch.
5. Check local regulations
And finally, when it comes to recreational fishing, the sport of catching Peacock Bass is heavily regulated in some areas in order to not inly protect them, but natural species as well. This involves the implementation of strict size, catch and slot limits in many waterways.
For example, in South Florida, the current bag limit for butterfly peacock bass is two fish per day, only one of which may be greater than 17 inches long. Many places will also require you to obtain a fishing license as well.
So before you head out, make sure you avoid nasty fines and potential bans by making sure you are fishing within all of the regulations designated for that particular waterway.
So there you have it, my 5 Peacock Bass fishing tips for those looking to get amongst these colorful monsters this year. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.