How to Catch Peacock Bass in South Florida

If you live in South Florida and want to learn how to catch this beautifully colored and popular fish, this article will give you a crash course in finding and catching this beautiful, hard-fighting exotic fish.

First off, you've got to have some motivation to catch a peacock!  Besides being fun to catch, peacock bass are excellent on the plate and are firm in texture without being overly fishy tasting. Compare it to tilapia.  Also, they taste nothing like peacocks, in case you're wondering.

Found in great numbers throughout the Amazon, Rio Negro, and Orinoco river basins of South America, this species of fish evolved alongside such notorious finned predators as the piranha and payara.

They are an incredibly tough species and adapt well to new climates, which led to their widespread introduction throughout South America.  Peacock bass were introduced to Florida in 1984 and sustain a healthy sport fishing population despite the population experiencing the occasional winter kill.

peacock bass

Peacock bass are both beautiful and delicious.

Beyond South America, these fish have been introduced to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Southern Florida. And luckily for Floridians, peacock bass can be caught within the comfort of city limits — no jungle excursion necessary, and can be caught from the bank.

They are intolerant of both saltwater and cooler water and will not venture into it, unlike some of their closest cousins. There are two types of peacock bass found in Florida:  the butterfly peacock and speckled peacock (which is now illegal to kill or possess).  

The majority of peacock bass caught in South Florida weigh between 1 and 2 pounds, but you may encounter larger fish growing up to 5 pounds or more. The current Florida record is over 9 pounds.  Compared to largemouth bass, most anglers agree that peacock bass hit lures harder and put up a stronger, more acrobatic fight.

Here's a video on how to catch these hard fighters in South Florida.

Generally speaking, peacock bass share some similarities with large mouth bass, but tend to strike harder and have a more spirited fight.  Anglers note that peacocks are not as active during the early morning and evening as large mouth, which means you get to sleep in a bit.  They react to both lures and flies, but don't bother with worms (especially plastic) because peacocks won't bite at all.

Try using minnow imitating crankbaits, top water lures (with and without propellers), and a variety of jigs fished on casting or spinning tackle for artificial baits.  Stick to baits less than 3 inches and you'll get more strikes.  If you choose size over volume, larger peacock bass will take up to 5 inch baits.

topwater lures

Peacock bass will strike on a fly as well.  Use options like Dahlberg divers, deceivers, Clousers, epoxy minnows, zonkers and poppers.

Catching Peacock Bass Summarized

These warn water lovers are very popular with freshwater anglers in not only Florida but other parts of the world.  If you're lucky enough to experience peacock bass fishing, you'll likely remember the hard strikes and plenty of fight on the line.  Although not completely different from other bass species, there are some differences in size, habitat, and bait preferences with peacock bass.  If you fish for this fish, try something new!  They will strike at a variety of lures and baits, but skip the worms. 

Although catch and release is preferred, peacock bass are wonderful to eat so long as you've got a keeping size fish.  Always check local regs because these can and will change year to year. 

If you want more up-to-date information about closures, updated catch/size limits, the follow bassonline.com.


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