4 Things About Fishing for Florida Peacock Bass You May Not Know
The huge number of species available here in Florida makes it a paradise for anglers. Peacock bass are definitely one of the most unique.
First stocked into Dade and Broward County waters in 1984 to control exotic species, peacock bass populations have exploded throughout the region with fish now found even in some Southwest Florida waters. The only other place here in the United States that you'll find peacocks is in the Hawaiian Islands.
I used to have some misconceptions about peacock bass. I've also heard and read some things that I've found to not be absolute. Here's 4 interesting things I've learned about these fish that you may not have heard...
Retrieve Speed- A fast retrieve is often the recommended tactic. There's no doubt these fish will smash a fly that's zipping through the water, but I also catch tons of fish (even during their most active summer months) by just using a moderate stripping speed. I think the bigger key is to be erratic—use a mix of short, medium, and long strips no matter what the speed. Peacocks feed mainly on fish, so get that fly acting like one!
As Seen on TV- Peacocks don't always come out and nail your streamer with reckless abandon like you might see on TV. I get plenty of fish that chase, flash, smack, or even blow on the fly then turn away from it. This is one reason why I don't only fish my flies at a fast pace. When peacocks are being shy, don't be afraid to use repeated casts, make longer presentations, try different angles, or let the fly sink a bit more. I also have good luck using very, very short "twitchy" strips when trying to entice a fish that just follows the fly, or if I'm trying to coax a fish guarding a bed.
Bright Flies- Loud colors like chartreuse and orange are often recommended for peacocks, but they aren't mandatory. A lot of peacock forage is pretty low-key in color, and I like to take a similar natural approach to the flies I use. Basic tones like white with an olive back catch plenty of peacocks and also appeal greatly to other fish like largemouth, snook, and tarpon you may encounter in the same waters, thus giving you a good shot at hooking those, too.
Spawning Times- It's hot in South Florida and peacocks like it that way. They typically spawn around full moons during the hottest time of year roughly from mid-spring till October and can be seen bedding throughout that entire time period. This year (2019), I noticed a good number of spawners when temps really started to pick up in early May and continued seeing fish through summer.