Peacock Bass: Florida’s Best Kept Secret


Florida is considered one of the best fishing destinations in the world. Our warm climate and moderate water temperatures give our fish a yearlong growth cycle resulting in trophy fishing throughout the state. These same conditions that give us our trophy fish also help illegally discarded aquarium fish thrive.

Between 1984 and 1987 the state of Florida thru the FWC stocked around 20,000 butterfly peacock bass fingerlings into S.E. Florida waterways. The peacock bass were introduced in an attempt to curb the proliferation of exotic forage fish introduced into our waterways. Before the release an in depth study was conducted to determine the possible effect that the release could pose to local waterways. After 30 years and many studies this program is considered to be a success and actually a model program.

Since their introduction 30 years ago the peacock bass has become well established throughout South Florida from Ft Lauderdale on the East side of Florida to Naples on the West coast of Florida. It has established a well-balanced ecosystem with native species of largemouth bass, panfish and freshwater snook and tarpon. Typically all of these species can be fished for in the same waters. The peacock bass is now considered a prized and highly sought after game fish in these water.

Another positive side effect of the introduction of peacock bass into Florida waters is a number of peacock bass specific guide services have been started. The east coast has a number of guides who specialize specifically in the targeting of peacock bass. It is common on the east coast of Florida to catch peacock bass in the 10 to 12 pound range where on the west side of the state a fish in the 6 to 10 pound range is considered a good fish.

A friend of mine and of Bonita Springs guide Bob Bramblet asked me if Ken Taylor and I would like to join him for a day of fishing for peacock bass. I said that I really wasn’t up to a trip to Miami to fish for them. After a quick chuckle he told me that we wouldn’t have to travel any farther than Naples to get them. I replied that I have lived in the area for 20-plus years and never knew they were in Naples. Bob asked if I would like to fish with him and a few of his close friends and he would show me where to find them. Naturally I said yes and we started the planning.

On the last weekend of November we headed down to Golden Gate Estates to fish from kayaks on the canal systems. Peacock bass are sensitive to water temperature changes and a cold front had passed just days before so we launched late morning to allow the water temperature to rise a bit before fishing. We launched around 8 a.m. heading east in the canals. As we fished the banks we started catching largemouth bass and several species of panfish. Just before 10 a.m. we finally had our first hook up with a peacock bass on a topwater lure. I had heard from people who fished for them before that topwater lures are the bait of choice. Soon after that another guy had some peacock bass blow up on his topwater lure. Then it seemed like an hour and not a single bite on topwaters so I switched to a Sebile flat shad. From that point on finding fish was no longer a problem. It seems that the cold front earlier in the week had the fish lying closer to the bottom. I managed to land several largemouth as well as a few peacock bass. Bob also landed several largemouth bass and a couple peacocks.

I was told that the prime time to fish for peacock bass is between March and October. They seem to be more active in the warmer months of the year. During those months they will hit on virtually any type of topwater lure you throw at them as well as a variety of surface flies if a fly rod is your choice of weapon.

If you are going to be in the area or would like more information about fishing in the area Bob has an online fishing blog. You can follow his journeys and adventures @ Information regarding the stocking program came from


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