Peacock Bass Fishing in the “Urban Canals”
Are you ready for a superb South American fishing experience, without having to travel there? A chance to catch a hard-fighting, butterfly peacock bass? How about if you can do it without leaving Florida and just a stone’s throw from Naples, Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale or Miami?
Our Peacock Fishing Guides will take you on an urban fishing trip you won’t forget in the South Florida area Lakes and Canals. Thanks to our FWC, with conservation in mind and research they open eyes to the possibilities.
The Peacock Bass have flourished in these urban canals and lakes over the last 20 years and all of this great fishing is just a stone’s throw of most anywhere in South Florida.
Bass Online, has the largest “full-time” Team of Florida freshwater fishing guides in the state and have several that specialize in just Peacock Bass. Our Guides are the most experienced and simply the best that fish for the Florida Peacock Bass. Our crew at Bassonline.com will gladly assist you in planning your next Florida fishing trip that’s guaranteed to create a lifetime of memories!
Read about the hard fighting Florida Peacock bass below, then drop us an email or give us a call with any questions you may have.
We take pride in making sure that you will have a wonderful Florida Trip.
All about the Florida Peacock Bass The butterfly peacock (also called peacock bass) is an extremely popular freshwater game fish introduced to south Florida in 1984. It is readily caught by bank and boat anglers using a wide variety of tackle and bait that ranges from live shiners to artificial lures and flies. Butterfly peacock prefers live fish and fish imitating baits often used by largemouth bass anglers, but they rarely hit plastic worms commonly used to catch largemouth bass.
After careful documentation of these facts and reviews by experts from across the nation, the FWC decided to go forward with the introduction. Butterfly peacock was imported from Brazil, Guyana, and Peru and spawned at the FWC’s Non-Native Fish Research Lab. Using three stocks increased genetic variability, and fish were stocked only after being tested by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Auburn University to ensure they were disease and parasite free.
Today the butterfly peacock fishery extends through 330 miles of canals in Dade and Broward counties and is self-sustaining. Since additional stockings are not needed, there is no on-going cost for the program. Yet it generates about 286,000 hours of angling enjoyment each year and provides nearly $5 million of annual economic benefit.
Fishing is typically good throughout the year; however, most butterfly peacock heavier than four pounds are caught between February and May. Shaded areas provided by bridges, culverts, and other structures generally are productive fishing spots, along with fallen trees, canal ends, bends and intersections. Nearly all butterfly peacock are caught during daylight hours. The easiest way to catch butterfly peacock is by using live bait. A favorite choice is a small golden shiner about three inches in length, referred to locally as a “peacock shiner.” These can be fished below a float or free-lined while either casting or slow-trolling with an electric motor along canal edges. A small split shot weight may be required to fish the shiner at the proper depth.
The best fishing holes can be found by contacting local bait and tackle shops and going fishing with our guides. Butterfly peacock can be readily accessed from canal banks or boats, with prime fishing being during daylight hours. Focus your effort in shaded areas near a structure, and use top-water lures, minnow-like crankbaits or small golden shiners. Light tackle works best.
The bag limit is two fish per day, with only one longer than 17 inches. Butterfly peacock over 18 inches or 5 pounds are eligible for the Big Catch program. The FWC now has a Peacock Bass Fishing brochure available in PDF format.
Topwater lures (with and without propellers), minnow imitating crankbaits and a variety of jigs fished on casting or spinning tackle are good choices for artificial baits. These include floating and sinking Rapalas and Yozuri minnows, Rat-L-Traps, Shad-Raps, Tiny Torpedo’s and Pop-Rs. A plastic, twin-tailed minnow and jig combination buzzed across the surface or tossed at fish sighted in deeper water also can be productive. Small tube lures and jigs frequently are used to sight-fish butterfly peacock, especially when they are aggressively guarding spawning beds near the shoreline. Although bigger baits (up to five inches) may entice more trophy-sized fish, baits less than three inches in length will produce more consistently than larger ones. However, even big butterfly peacock will take baits smaller than largemouth bass anglers typically use.
Dahlberg divers, deceivers, Clousers, epoxy minnows, zonkers, and poppers are all popular selections of fly fishers. Many anglers prefer gold, firetiger or natural-colored lures; fly fishermen like chartreuse or yellow flies with flashy strips of Mylar-type materials. Most butterfly peacock anglers use light spinning tackle with six to eight-pound test line. Light lines and tippets generate more strikes than heavier ones, and heavier lines aren’t necessary because canal-caught butterfly peacock tends to be open-water fighters.
The butterfly peacock bass can be handled by its lower jaw, using the same thumb-and finger grip used for largemouth bass, although this will not immobilize them. By the end of the day, successful anglers using this grip will have many minor thumb scrapes caused by sandpaper-like teeth. These can be avoided by using tape, a leather thumb guard or a fish landing device like the Bogagrip. The current bag limit for butterfly peacock bass is two fish per day, only one of which may be greater than 17 inches long. This 17-inch length regulation gives added protection to large fish, which is essential for maintaining a high-quality sport fishery. If the popularity of butterfly peacock bass fishing continues to grow as expected, it may be necessary to consider even more restrictive regulations to protect this fishery (e.g., the bag limit may be reduced to one fish). All regulations for sport fish are subject to change, so always check to be sure of current rules.
We at BassOnline.com encourages anglers to practice catch-and-release when fishing for butterfly peacock bass. Overall, this species is a hearty fish and nearly 100 percent will survive being caught and released when properly handled. However, butterfly peacock bass does not survive as well in live wells or as long out of the water as do largemouth bass. It is important that they are released quickly to maximize their chances of survival.
Cool water temperatures are the most important factor for butterfly peacock bass in Florida. Laboratory temperature studies have documented that butterfly peacock bass dies in water colder than 62 degrees. In fact, the first attempt to study butterfly peacock bass in the 1960s failed when all fish died due to low pond temperatures. In the early 1980s, it was discovered that canals of coastal southeast Florida were warmer than other waters during the winter, and some rarely dropped below 65 degrees. The main reason for this is the Biscayne Aquifer that lies just a few feet below the ground. During winter, the warmer water flowing from this aquifer into canals creates the warm temperatures critical to the survival and success of many exotic fishes. The butterfly peacock is no exception. In fact, of all exotic fishes currently established in Florida, the butterfly peacock bass is the least tolerant of low water temperatures. Butterfly peacock bass has over-wintered and reproduced successfully every year since its introduction in 1984. No additional fish have been stocked since 1987. Although butterfly peacock bass occasionally experiences partial winterkills, coastal southeast Florida canals provide conditions that should permanently support a high-quality sport fishery for this important species.
Unlike some of their relatives, butterfly peacock bass does not venture into saltwater and is restricted to salinities similar to those tolerated by largemouth bass. This intolerance to saltwater and cool water temperatures prevents butterfly peacock bass from becoming widespread outside the metropolitan South Florida area.
Locations to Fish
The best and most up-to-date fishing reports for butterfly peacock are available from Peacock fishing blogs. A few tackle shops cater specifically to butterfly peacock anglers. There also are several professional guides who specialize in fishing for this species. Experienced guides are especially helpful for visiting anglers and those who want to quickly learn the basics, plus a few of the best canals to fish. For first-time, non-guided butterfly peacock anglers, it is strongly recommended to check with local freshwater tackle shops for the best locations and baits to use.
These maps also are available in Acrobat PDF format on our fisheries publications site.