Summer weather means active peacock bass in South Florida canals. Here’s how one local plays the game.
It’s hot, a little windy and I have my favorite lures to use today. A gold LiveTarget twitchbait, small Rapala, and Yo-Zuri propbait will be the key to catch Florida’s exotic peacock bass. Traveling light will be necessary because this fishing is a run-and-gun sort of thing. Grab a 2000 to 3000 class reel with 6- to 20-pound braided main line. Tip your braided line with 15- or 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, on a 6-foot, 6-inch to 7-foot medium action rod.
Peacock bass are known for their bad attitude and nevergive-up fight. You’ll need to work your bait medium to fast to get their attention. Look for sandy bottoms in shallow water. Also look for limestone rocks with a good dropoff, or drain pipes that connect two or more bodies of water. Weather is key.
You don’t have to get up super early to target and catch peacocks. The warmer it is the better. You’ll just need to bring a lot of water, sunscreen and clothes like AFTCO with UV protection to protect your skin. My best bites are always around late morning or just before the sun starts to set, but you can catch them anytime of the day.
I respect the fish and leave them alone when they’re pairing up. When they are spawning or protecting their fry, they become very easy to catch and I never target those. They will bite any and everything to protect their own. No matter how many times you hook them, they will keep coming back to guard their home. I leave those alone to target free-swimming fish so that there will be a future to catch more.
When using the LiveTarget twitchbait (I like the bronze/gold Glass Minnow Baitball model), you want to work it with a fast one, two, stop kind of action. If the fish doesn’t respond to that, then you want to do a consistent twitch, twitch action all the way through. The LiveTarget lure is really good for when the peacocks are in shallow water, say 6 to 24 inches deep.
The propbait, such as the 3DB Prop from Yo-Zuri, will work in the same shallow environment. The way you want to work the topwater is a hard twitch, twitch, to make sure that propeller is kicking up water making a lot of noise. Make sure you target the edge of the lakes.
When the fish are deep and aren’t biting, pull out the Rapala. The X-Rap Countdown in size 5 is a good one for peacocks. Cast it out in the middle, let it sink, and work it fast back to the shore. Peacocks will come from under the lure and crush it.
By the way, make sure you have a good grip on your rod because the hit is like someone snatching your shirt when you’re running as fast as you can. It’s just unreal! Even the small fish will make you think you have a big one. When they run, allow them to, but keep pressure on the line. When they go airborne point the tip of the rod in the direction they’re in. With these small lures, you do not want to have the drag on your reel too tight. If it is, then you’re going to lose a lot of fish because they will straighten out your hooks!
If you’re looking for a hard-fighting, beautiful, colorful fish, and don’t have the money to travel across the world, South Florida is the place to be. Get out your small plugs and topwater lures and cast away. There’s a chance you’ll feel that pull that will get you hooked. FS
Published in Florida Sportsman Magazine May 2019