4lb Butterfly peacock bass photo

General Info:  Peacock Bass Fishing Info?

The butterfly peacock (also called peacock bass) is an extremely popular freshwater game fish introduced to south Florida in 1984. It is readily caught by bank and boat anglers using a wide variety of tackle and bait that ranges from live shiners to artificial lures and flies. Butterfly peacock prefer live fish and fish-imitating baits often used by largemouth bass anglers, but they rarely hit plastic worms commonly used to catch largemouth bass.
Fishing is typically good throughout the year; however, most butterfly peacock bass heavier than four pounds are caught between February and May.  Shaded areas provided by bridges, culverts and other structures generally are productive fishing spots, along with fallen trees, canal ends, bends and intersections. Nearly all butterfly peacock are caught during daylight hours.

The easiest way to catch butterfly peacock is by using live bait. A favorite choice is a small golden shiner about three inches in length, referred to locally as a “peacock shiner.” These can be fished below a float or free-lined while either casting or slow-trolling with an electric motor along canal edges. A small split shot weight may be required to fish the shiner at the proper depth.

Topwater lures (with and without propellers), minnow-imitating crankbaits and a variety of jigs fished on casting or spinning tackle are good  choices for artificial baits. These include floating and sinking Rapalas and Yozuri minnows, Rat-L-Traps, Shad-Raps, Jerk’n Sams, Wobble Pops, Tiny Torpedos and Pop-Rs. A plastic, twin-tailed minnow and jig combination buzzed across the surface or tossed at fish sighted in deeper water also can be productive. Small tube lures and jigs frequently are used to sight-fish butterfly peacock, especially when they are aggressively guarding spawning beds near the shoreline. Although bigger baits (up to five inches) may entice more trophy-sized fish, baits less than three inches in length will produce more consistently than larger ones. However, even big butterfly peacock will take baits smaller than largemouth bass anglers typically use.

Dahlberg divers, deceivers, Clousers, epoxy minnows, zonkers and poppers are all popular selections of flyfishers. Many anglers prefer gold, fire-tiger or natural-colored lures; fly fishermen like chartreuse or yellow flies with flashy strips of mylar-type materials.

Most butterfly peacock anglers use light spinning tackle with six to eight-pound test line. Light lines and tippets generate more strikes than heavier ones, and heavier lines aren’t necessary because canal-caught butterfly peacock tend to be open-water fighters.

The butterfly peacock bass can be handled by its lower jaw, using the same thumb-and-finger grip used for largemouth bass, although this will not immobilize them. By the end of the day, successful anglers using this grip will have many minor thumb scrapes caused by sandpaper-like teeth. These can be avoided by using tape, a leather thumb-guard or a fish landing device like the Bogagrip.

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Florida Peacock Bass

Florida Peacock Bass Fishing

GENERAL FISHING INFORMATION--Cypress Creek Canal provides excellent largemouth bass fishing, and it is the northern limit for predictable catches of butterfly peacock. The boat ramps on this canal are some of the best in southeast Florida. This canal also provides freshwater anglers one of the best opportunities to complete a canal 'trifecta' or 'grand slam' consisting of a butterfly peacock, largemouth bass, and a snook or tarpon. The butterfly peacock is a world renown gamefish that was successfully introduced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the mid-1980s to eat undesirable exotic fishes, and to provide more sportfishing opportunities for anglers in the metropolitan Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area.

Fallen trees, canal intersections, sharp bends, and dead ends are generally productive areas for catching most species of fish. Shoreline vegetation, rip-rap, residential seawalls (particularly in lateral canals), and shady areas associated with bridges and culverts all provide excellent places to fish. If there is a strong current in the main canal, spend more time fishing lateral canals and other areas that offer refuge from the current (e.g., cut-outs, bridge pilings, and the downstream side of spillways and culverts).

There are fewer butterfly peacock in this canal than in canals further south, but their average size is larger (14.4 inches and 1.8 pounds). Sixty-four percent of the harvestable butterfly peacocks in this canal are greater than 14 inches, and 30% are greater than 15 inches (2.0 pounds). Trophy peacock (those greater than five pounds) have been caught from this and other canals, and we expect the current 9.08 pound state record for this species to ultimately exceed 10-11 pounds. The bag limit for butterfly peacock is two fish per day, only one of which can be greater than 17 inches.

Fishing for butterfly peacock is best from March through May, but they are caught consistently throughout the year. Butterfly peacock feed only during daylight and normally close to shore, although schooling peacocks sometimes feed aggressively in open water. Most butterfly peacock are caught on live golden shiners or fast moving artificial lures and flies that imitate small fish. Butterfly peacock are more likely to be caught using live fish for bait than are largemouth bass, which make them an excellent fish for younger anglers, as well as those just learning to bass fish. It is illegal to use goldfish or any other non-native fish for bait, except those legally caught from and used immediately in the same canal.

Cypress Creek Canal has more largemouth bass than most other canals in southeast Florida, and fish greater than 20 inches are regularly sampled although the average size is 13 inches (1.0 pounds). Largemouth bass fishing tends to be best during the winter months when the water cools, and at night during the summer months. Plastic worms work well for largemouth bass, but they rarely catch butterfly peacock. The bag limit for largemouth bass is five fish per day, but only one of these can be greater than 14 inches.

Snook roam throughout the canal but tend to concentrate under bridges and vegetated shorelines. On calm days, look for tarpon rolling at the surface in the widest parts of lateral canals.

The number and quality of panfish over six inches in Cypress Creek Canal is similar to other area canals. Live worms and crickets are the choice baits for many panfish anglers, although fresh bread or bread dough works well, is readily available, and it costs less. Shoreline anglers have plenty of access to these fisheries at the boat ramps, and along roads paralleling and crossing the canal. Some exploring is necessary to find the best locations for shoreline fishing, and always be sure to park cars safely on public right of ways.

Cypress Creek Canal anglers might also catch one of several exotic fishes or a native marine invader such as the bigmouth sleeper. Bigmouth sleepers resemble walleye, and are a long/cylindrical fish with a mouth full of sharp teeth.

Possible exotic catches include jaguar guapotes and Mayan cichlids from Central America, oscars from South America, and spotted tilapia from Africa. Jaguar guapotes resemble a black crappie (speckled perch) with many small, sharp teeth. Mayan cichlids are colorful and appear similar to mangrove snapper with a turquoise ring around a black spot at the base of its tail. Oscars are a bream-shaped fish with a red or orange circle at the base of its tail, and they have a thick coat of protective mucus on their bodies. Spotted tilapia are bream-shaped, golden in color with black vertical bars or spots, and some have red on them. These exotic fishes were illegally released, pose a threat to native species, are good to eat, and you can keep every one you catch.

Cypress Creek Canal and other area canals receive a great deal of fishing pressure, so we encourage anglers to release most, if not all of the butterfly peacock, largemouth bass, snook, and tarpon they catch. If anglers don't release a majority of the sportfish they catch, these high quality fisheries will deteriorate rapidly.