Looking for an exotic fishing getaway?
Florida Peacock Bass fishing offers a great way to catch a hard fighting tropical game fish.
Travel less than a mile from Miami International Airport and you can be on prime peacock bass waters.
The peacock bass was introduced into southeast Florida waters in 1984. Florida Fish and wildlife Commission biologist Paul Shafland spearheaded the project.
The aim of the program was to help control the non native fish populations and introduce a new sport fishing opportunity.
Two species of Peacock Bass were introduced. The Butterfly Peacock Bass and the Speckled Peacock Bass.
The Butterfly Peacock is the common variety that is frequently caught in South Florida. The current Florida state record is 9.08 pounds.
Speckled Peacock Bass can get much larger than Butterfly Peacocks. Unfortunately, it takes Specks much longer to mature and reach reproducing age. As a result, it does not seem like they have flourished in South Florida.
Luckily the Butterflies have flourished in Southeast Florida’s warm waters. It’s a self sustaining fishery that now provides a great opportunity for anglers.
How to Catch Florida Peacock Bass
Florida’s Peacock Bass population extends from Palm Beach County in the north to just short of Key Largo in the south.
One the west, Krome avenue is pretty much as far as you’ll find them. They probably exist west of Krome, but you’ll be in the everglades at that point.
The Airport Lakes Area is a great place to start from if you’re a boater or going on a guided trip. From here, you can access over 30 miles of canals and ponds small lakes that are prime Peacock Bass habitat.
Antonio Maceo Park has a publicly accessible boat ramp. Find it here:
Snapper creek is a great place to search for peacocks. There’s even a boat ramp on the canal. Be advised that it’s somewhat steep and does not have docks.
If you’re fishing from shore, don’t worry, there are plenty of parks and roadside areas where you can hook up.
Keep in mind that these spots can be hit or miss depending on the time. Snapper creek has plenty of open shore that you can fish from.
Further north, the Snake Creek canal has a good reputation for both Peacock and Largemouth Bass. Check with local sources for the latest info. More on that below in the live bait section.
When fishing the canal systems of South Florida, a great tactic is to look for changes.
These canals can have long stretches of straight featureless water. To help your chances of finding fish, look for culverts, bridges with pilings, or holes in weed-lines. These are just some examples of potential peacock hot spots.
If you see lots of small bait fish or birds, this could also be a great indicator that predators are lurking nearby.
Peacock Bass Lures
Peacock bass will hit many of the same lures you would use for bass fishing. This is especially true for bait fish imitating lures.
Floating minnows are a great choice. Peacocks will also hit crank baits and sinking or suspending jerk baits. A popular lure is the Rapala minnow series.
Lipless crankbaits with a tight wobble such as a rattle trap can also be effective.
One thing to keep in mind is that many of the places you’ll be fishing have very clear water.
And while the area is full of exotic colorful species, you may want to go with light line and natural colors if you’re using lures.
Peacock bass are not usually caught with plastic worms. So if you’re set on using plastics, you may want to go with a swimbait or curly tail grub.
Topwater lures are not as popular with South Florida Peacocks, but you could still give it a try under the right conditions. If the water is very warm at the surface and the fish seem agressive, you can give topwater a shot.
Walking lures like the zara spook might work. The topwater strikes can also be very exciting.
How To Catch Peacock Bass With Lures
The South Florida canal system is vast. There’s going to be alot of water with nothing in it.
When using lures, you’ll want to look for signs that fish may be around.
Start looking for signs of baitfish. Birds, or fish hitting the surface are telltale signs. The water is usually pretty clear so you should be able to see small cichlids or even the bass themselves. Sight fishing is definitely a possibility.
If this fails, try to present your lures at the opening of a culvert or under the shade of a bridge.
If the water is moving try presenting your lure near a current break.
Hydrilla is very prevalent in South Florida. You’ll find large mats of it on both sides of most canals. A great tactic for eliminating water is to cast a lure such as a jerkbait parallel to the weedline.
Retrieve the bait close to the edge of the weeds. Peacock Bass love to wait in ambush and will often dart out of the weeds to intercept your lure.
Live Bait For Peacock Bass
Peacock Bass love live shiners. This is probably the easiest way of all to catch em. Peacocks go crazy for shiners and will chase them with reckless abandon.
This is also a great way to get intel on good peacock bass locations. Stop by a South Florida Bait Shop and get yourself a couple of dozen shiners.
Then while you’re there, chat up the workers and get the latest tips. They should be able to give you some pointers and possibly some great spots.
Remember that in the hot South Florida Weather you may need to acclimate the shiners a bit to the water temperature.
One tactic is to pour a small amount of water from the canal or lake you’re fishing in with the shiners.
This will help get the water temperature in the livewell closer to that temperature of the water you’re fishing.
If you’re using a bucket, make sure you have some way to keep the water oxygenated. You can use O-tabs for this. O-tabs are small tablets that you open and drop into the bucket. They slowly release oxygen.
Another option is a small battery operated air pump that will inject bubbles into the water and keep it oxygenated. Some bait buckets come with a aeration pump already attached.
Peacock Bass are one of the most exciting and aggressive fish you can catch. And you can catch them in the US. The Southeastern Florida canal systems are a great fishery.
Here you can catch Peacocks, Largemouth Bass, Oscars, and many other exotic species.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be sure to answer.