In search of Peacocks of the Sunshine State.Ben Secrest
One of my favorite trips during the year is to visit our Florida dealers and spend some time with some of my friends living in the state. No matter where my travels take me I always find a way to go fishing. In my thirty years visiting Florida I have been fortunate to catch the local variety of gamefish both saltwater and freshwater, including Sailfish, Dolphin, Wahoo, Snapper, Swords, you name we have done it. I have to say though my favorite fish to catch has to be the Peacock bass.
Peacocks are not only the most beautiful gamefish to catch they are some of the toughest opponents pound for pound on light tackle. Florida has a large population of Butterfly Peacock bass which was introduced by the Florida Fish and Game department. You can find the Peacock bass pretty much in all the waterways including canals, private ponds, park ponds, and lakes throughout the Sunshine State. The weather is perfect for them, the hotter it gets, the better they bite. No matter if its artificial lures or fishing shiners they guys are game to play.
A big Peacock bass in florida would be 8 lbs, not the same as the ones in the amazon that are pushing 20 lbs for a trophy fish. The type of tackle we use for the peacocks is pretty light which makes the fight that much more fun. We usually grab a 7 or 7.5 foot spinning rod with 20 lb braid on a SR-6 TwinDrag® spinning reel with a short trace floor carbon leader of about three feet. You can attach the leader to the braid with a double uni knot or a improved pena knot. We also use bait casters with either 8 to 12 lb mono or 20 lb braid, whatever your preference might be. More parabolic rods seem to work better to absorb their tendency to get a second and third wind at the boat. These gamefish do not give up and that is what gets most anglers interested in catching them. IF you are fishing artificial baits Peacocks will pound spinner baits representing shiners or brownish tints for talapia, they also will hit jerk baits, and a lot of guys used shiners with circle hooks.
These gamefish love cover but one of the most favorite places they hide is in culverts in the lakes and pond that feed water into the body of water. In direct sunlight you can see them on the bottom in shallow water. They are fearless and will pretty much attack anything they look at as food. Sometimes it is better for fishing if there is a slight wind to camouflage you and the boat when they are actively cruising the shallows. They do love the shadows of the culverts and docks which a lot of times ends in a lost fish. Before casting make sure you know what the best direction is for you to concentrate on pulling them out. Watch your angles as you catch and try to fish the outer edges before lofting a bait back in the shadows. They will pretty much win ever time resulting in a fish broken off. I am not sure if people eat Peacock bass but I know the people I have fished with for years practice catch and release of these magnificent fish. If you get a chance to visit florida make sure you figure out a way to catch a Peacock bass. Definitely a fish of a lifetime.