The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists certified a new state record butterfly peacock bass weighing 9.11 pounds and measuring 23 5/16 inches long, caught by angler Felipe Prieto from Hialeah. Prieto was fishing after work and caught the fish on live bait in a Broward County lake. This new catch supersedes the previous state record of 9.08 pounds that has stood for almost three decades since 1993.
Peacock bass are unique among freshwater fish as the only nonnative species to be legally established in Florida. The FWC stocked peacock bass in coastal southeast Florida canals in 1984 to help reduce the number of undesirable exotic fishes, especially spotted tilapia. A side benefit of the stocking has been a new fishery for Florida. Limited low temperature tolerance normally restricts butterfly peacocks to Broward and Miami-Dade counties but recent mild winters have allowed anglers as far north as Palm Beach County to enjoy catching this species. Native to South America, butterfly peacock bass have flourished in southeast Florida and FWC biologists have documented even larger fish.
“The butterfly peacock bass is colorful, a lightning-fast striker and a hard fighter,” said FWC Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Anglers from across the country travel here to catch a peacock bass, which only adds to the tremendous economic impact fishing has in Florida. This unique game fish is just one of the features that makes Florida, truly, the Fishing and Boating Capital of the World.”
To properly certify a new freshwater Florida state record, an FWC biologist must identify the species and an FWC employee must witness its weighing on a certified scale. Anglers can check the current state records at BigCatchFlorida.com by clicking on “State Record” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish. Anglers are encouraged to be prepared to provide a photograph of the fish on a scale with the weight legible, for expediting the initial verification of the fish species and potential state record status. More details are available at this state record news release. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at MyFWC.com/Contact by clicking on “Contact Regional Offices.”
The FWC recognizes other memorable freshwater catches through its Big Catch program, which provides certificates commemorating trophy catches of 33 different freshwater species. Largemouth bass catches are recognized by the TrophyCatch program, which is a citizen science program that partners with industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, to offer rewards for the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier.
For more information about the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, contact John Cimbaro at 561-662-1906 or John.Cimbaro@MyFWC.com.