Other Names: Large Cichlids, Pavon
Peacock bass (or Brazilian tucunaré) (Cichla) is a genus of large cichlids, predatory freshwater fish native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins, as well as rivers of the Guianas, in tropical South America. They are sometimes referred to in English by their Brazilian name tucunaré or their Spanish name pavon. Despite the common name and their superficial similarity, they are not closely related to other fish known as bass, such as the North American largemouth bass.
Key characteristic of this species is that they are generally light to dark yellow in color. Vertical black bars formulate lines on both sides of the fish. The underbelly generally is light or almost white. Peacock bass, like the largemouth bass upper jaw, also reaches far beyond the rear margin and is hinged.
Florida, Panama, and Brazil rank as the TOP Destinations to explore and catch trophy peacock bass in the world!
ABOUT THE FLORIDA PEACOCK BASS
All about the Florida Peacock Bass. The butterfly peacock (also called peacock bass) is a prevalent freshwater game fish introduced to south Florida in 1984. It is readily caught by shoreline and boat anglers using various tackle and bait, ranging 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 introduce it. FWC imported Butterfly peacock from Brazil and Peru. Then spawned them at the FWC’s Non-Native Fish Research Lab, using three stocks to increased genetic variability. After being tested by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Auburn University to ensure they were disease and parasite free, they stocked.
Where and When?
Today the butterfly peacock fishery extends through 330 miles of canals in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach 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.
However, fishing has two typically good seasons throughout the year, between March and June and September and December. When most heavier than four-pound butterfly peacock are captured.
Shaded areas provided by bridges, culverts, and other structures generally are productive fishing spots, along with fallen trees, canal ends, bends, and intersections. During daylight hours is when nearly all butterfly peacock is caught. 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, with 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 are known by contacting local bait and tackle shops, reading fishing reports and fishing guides. Butterfly peacock can be readily accessed from canal banks or boats, with prime fishing during daylight hours. Focus your effort in rocky areas near a structure, and use topwater lures, minnow-like crankbaits, or small golden shiners. Light tackle works best.
Strick Rules and Laws
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 Fishing brochure available in PDF format.
PICTURES OF PEACOCK
LOCATIONS AND THINGS TO AVOID
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 help visiting anglers and those who want to learn the basics quickly. Plus a provide information on best canals and lures to fish. For first-time, non-guided butterfly peacock anglers, it recommended checking with local freshwater tackle shops for the best locations and baits to use. The highest-ranked fishing guides in the areas are listed here.
These maps also are available in Acrobat PDF format on our fisheries publications site.
Things to Avoid
Coldwater temperatures are the most critical factor for butterfly peacock bass in Florida. Laboratory temperature studies have documented that peacock dies in water colder than 62 degrees. The first attempt to study butterfly peacock bass in the 1960s failed due to low pond temperatures. In the early 1980s, the discovery of coastal southeast Florida canals being 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 been through winter and reproduced every year since its introduction in 1984. With no additional stocking of fish needed 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 their relatives, butterfly peacock doesn’t venture into saltwater. They are restricted by the salinities similar to those tolerated by largemouth bass. This intolerance to saltwater and cold water temperatures prevents butterfly peacock bass from becoming widespread outside the metropolitan South Florida area.
Peacock bass fishing guides Florida
To see a complete list of great peacock bass fishing guides, please click here!
Using Peacock bass fishing guide
When choosing a Peacock Bass Fishing Guide think 1st locally. Secondly, there experience no substitute for this. Whether your fishing Miami, Naples, West Palm Beach are a particular lake like Lake Ida. Look for fishing guides that specialize in the location or body of water you want to fish.
Big discount guides, that do everything, ALWAYS provide mediocre trips. Poor and old equipment, less expensive boats like Carolina Skiffs. While they all catch fish, premium equipment and boats are what professional guide trips are all about and expected. Otherwise, just fish from the bank!
The Peacock has 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 has several specialties in just Peacock. Our Guides are the most experienced and only the best that fish for the Florida Peacock Bass. Our TEAM at Bassonline.com will gladly assist you in planning your next Florida fishing trip, that’s guaranteed to create a lifetime of memories!
FISHING FOR PEACOCK BASS
LURES AND TECHNIQUES
Topwater lures (with and without propellers). Minnow imitating crankbaits, and various 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 famous fly fishers’ selections. 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 a six to eight-pound test line. Light lines and tippets generate more strikes than heavier ones, and more massive lines aren’t necessary because canal-caught butterfly peacock tends as fighters.
Successful anglers using a thumb grip will have many scrapes caused by teeth by the end of the day. Despite this, peacock bass handling uses the same techniques with thumb and finger used with largemouth bass. Although this does not immobilize Peacock, it does create a great picture.
Things to Know
You can avoid this 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. Suppose the popularity of butterfly peacock fishing continues to grow as expected. It may be necessary to consider even more restrictive regulations to protect this fishery (e.g., the bag limits). All sport fish regulations 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. Overall, we think the species is a hearty fish, and nearly 100 percent will survive being caught and released when adequately handled. However, butterfly peacock bass does not stay in live wells or as long out of the water as largemouth bass. Peacock must be released quickly to maximize their chances of survival.
ARTIFICIAL BAIT FISHING
Most anglers choose to fish for peacock bass live bait, but artificial lures can be used. The most common lure of choice is topwater lures or hard jerk bait. Also, anglers have a blast catching peacock bass on hair jigs and small spinnerbaits. Conventional swimbaits and swim jigs do not work that are used for largemouth bass, especially in Florida. Artificial fishing for peacock can get you addicted to peacock, but it can be a grind at times. It’s not quick and easy like largemouth fishing, but there is a wide range of waterways to explore and they bite all year round!
LIVE BAIT FISHING
When it comes to live-bait fishing for peacock bass, you have several options for fishing it. Live bait, can be very productive in catching bass in general. One of the most common techniques to catch peacock bass in Florida with live bait is the use of domestic shiners. By far, it is one of the best ways to put large numbers and trophy size peacock bass in the boat. Shiners can be used free lining, meaning no use of a bobber. Carolina rig style with lead and leader as well as conventional with a bobber. Local baitfish are the common forage for peacock bass.
WHERE CAN YOU FISH FOR PEACOCK BASS
PEACOCK BASS IN FLORIDA
The peacock bass is the state of Florida’s top game fish for recreational freshwater anglers. Bass in Florida reach proportions and are caught year-round. A trophy peacock is one in the 5+ pound range. You can find peacock in canals and lakes near underwater structures and rocks. Florida is home to some of the best bass fishing!
PEACOCK IN PANAMA
While Panama is known for its big black and blue marlin best locations in the world, one of the species commonly fish and asked about is the peacock bass. As in Brazil and Florida, this colorful and aggressive fish has many people’s attention. A day fishing for peacock in Panama is made more impressive by the location.
PEACOCK IN BRAZIL
Since the mid 1980’s, an ever-increasing number of anglers have ventured to the Amazon Basin of Brazil and Venezuela to target the peacock bass, a freshwater species some suggest is the most exciting gamefish on earth! It was the late 1950’s or early ‘60’s that the first accounts of peacock bass were told by the late Field and Stream editor A.J..
PEACOCK IN HAWAII
Lake Wilson in Hawaii is stocked with 17 different species of freshwater fish. The most popular, like all the other locations it exists is the Peacock Bass. Introduced in Hawaii in 1977 from South America. Distinctive because of its color and spot. While in very limited locations in Hawaii, there and South Florida in the United States are the only locations.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are there peacock bass in Florida?
The Peacock Bass was introduced by Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission to Florida’s lakes in early 1984. These non-native species of the cichlid fish are known for their yellow and golden hue, distinguished by its sidebars. According to the FWC, Peacock Bass are native to the Amazon but have adjusted well to the South Florida environment.
Can peacock bass live in saltwater?
They ONLY do freshwater waters and do not do well in saltwater water with salinity (salt) where saltwater mixes with freshwater. Peacock Bass are also very particular about brackish or, in general, the quality of the water, the water temperature, and currents. They are making the warm canals of South Florida home for the perfect mixture of habitat.
Where is the best peacock bass fishing?
As listed on this page, there are many fantastic peacock bass fishing locations, but none like Brazil. Fishing the jungle, the fish’s isolation and size make it very inviting—the cost, fear of safety, and sketchy travel at best lead anglers to other alternatives.
There are many unique Peacock Bass fishing locations in Florida, especially in Miami & Fort Lauderdale. The distance from Key Largo to Palm Beach, then Fort Lauderdale to Naples, holds many great spots with hard fighting fish.
Do peacock bass have teeth?
Peacock bass has rows of tiny, scratchy teeth and a powerful jaw to clamp down. Like many fish and their counterpart, the largemouth, they only have a down bite, so once clamped down, the teeth hold it in place. They’re more challenging to catch, as they’ll quite often grab the line, and the sharp tiny teeth with cut your line, and they end up swimming away with your lure.
How can you tell if a peacock bass is male or female?
A common individualized feature distinctive to many cichlids species of fish is a bulging hump on top of its head. Testing has proven to show its the visual difference between male and female peacock bass. Many speculate its reason; the theories suggest its use as a sign of mating to attract females during spawning and warn off other males.
Is there peacock bass in Lake Okeechobee?
Travelers come to Lake Okeechobee in hopes to catch peacock bass. Unfortunately, these exotic species make it only to the coastal areas of South Florida and there is no peacock bass in Lake Okeechobee Florida.
Why no peacock bass in Lake Okeechobee?
Many anglers ask “Is there Peacock Bass in Lake Okeechobee Florida?” There is NO peacock bass in Lake Okeechobee. Peacock bass resides in South Florida, the lake is shallow and the water temps get to cold during the winter months. Lake Okeechobee provides the best environment for trophy largemouth bass. In just a short drive of 40 minutes are less, you can access the TOP lakes for Florida peacock bass.
Peacock bass is very sensitive when it comes to cooler water temperatures. Since they originate from South America, when water temperatures get too cold, they die. As a result, this explosive, aggressive, and colorful species can not reside in Lake Okeechobee.
Is there peacock bass in Orlando?
Peacock bass, besides the largemouth, happens to be one of the most interesting and exciting species to catch. … Travelers come to Central Florida in hopes to catch peacock bass. Unfortunately, these exotic characteristics make it only reside in South Florida and there is no peacock bass in Orlando Florida.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PEACOCK BASS
- Bass can eat prey up to 35% of their body length
- The average life span is 8-10 years
- Florida record peacock caught 9.08 pounds, but fish up to 12 pounds have been caught and not recorded.
- Peacock uses scent mainly to attack and ambush prey
- Females can lay a number of eggs between 4,000-10,000 eggs, almost double of largemouth bass.
- World: 12.6 pounds, caught in Venezuela in 1998
- Florida: 9.08 pounds, on a private lake, 2006
- Brazil: 28-pounds, caught in 2010
- Columbia: 8-pounds, 8 ounces in 2019 on a fly
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