Peacock Bass in South Florida
Mark Hall / Sportsmens Compass Contributing Member
Editors note: If you will be in the Miami or Fort Lauderdale Florida area and haven’t tried peacock bass fishing you owe it to yourself to give it a try. The fish were introduced into the South Florida canal systems in 1984 to counter invasive species and provide a new fishery. Sight casting on the fly or spin fishing for these hard fighting fish is a blast. We sat down with Captain Mark Hall for a Q&A on fishing and guiding for peacock bass.
How long have you been a guide?
2016 is my 11th season guiding
What is the primary species you target and location?
Primarily peacock bass in the Miami area. I find that that people coming to fish for peacocks recognize the Miami area as being prime but you can catch them as far north as Palm Beach county.
What are your go-to flies for peacocks?
Clouser flies are one of the main flies. Surface flies are a lot of fun when the fish will take them. Sub surface it’s primarily minnow patterns including gummy minnows.
What about for spinning?
For spinning it’s primarily Rapala and Heddon topwater lures when fish are hitting on top. Yozuri and Rapala subsurface minnows work well. It’s exciting when top water is working.
Other spin tactics?
Live bait using shiners is really effective. Using live bait with someone new to fishing works well.
Do you have a favorite time of year for peacock fishing?
My favorite time is when the seasons change. November and December when the fish are on beds and reproducing before the cooler part of the year. Then again, coming out of the cooler months there is increased spawning activity.
Is this a robust fishery year round or at certain times?
It’s 365 days a year fishing however a cold snap, which is infrequent down here, will impact it adversely.
Most of the time you aren’t casting long distances, 20 to 30 feet. That should make it easier on the beginner, right?
For someone new to fishing, as long as they are willing to fish with live bait, I can pretty much guarantee they will put some fish in the boat. I can usually find a way to catch peacocks on any given day, not withstanding severe weather.
Are there some other warm water species besides peacocks that you come across?
Grass Carp is one of the largest species in the canal system. They can get up to 30 lbs. We also catch largemouth bass and a multitude of Cichlid species. Talapia are also abundant and occasionally a salt water species such as a snook or tarpon.
What can you expect to see for average size with peacocks
1 to 2 lbs is what we are fishing for in most cases. A 3 lb fish is a really nice fish. A five lb fish is a special fish although I think the state record is around 10 lbs. We are rapidly approaching sizes found in South America.