Freshwater fishermen in South Florida enjoy chasing peacock bass, an imported exotic species that now thrives in Florida’s waters, but in cool weather the fishery shuts down. The peacocks will watch lures pass inches in front of their nose, without showing one iota of aggression. What’s an angler to do? In this video Captain Greg Stamper, of Snook Stamp Charters, shows us his trick for getting lackadaisical peacock bass to strike.
Unlike most non-native species, peacock bass are one of the true success stories of transplanting fish from a different part of the world. Though they’re native to the Amazon river basin, they arrived in Florida in 1984, transplanted in part to help control the exploding population of invasive tilapia. Peacocks established a foot-hold in canals and small lakes in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Since they can’t tolerate water temperatures below 60-degrees, peacock bass in Florida usually need access to relatively deep water where they can shelter during cold snaps. And although they don’t like saltwater at all, they can tolerate salinity up to 18 ppt—so they’re occasionally caught in canals where fish like snook and tarpon show up, too. We didn’t hook any on this trip, but we did spot tarpon rolling on the water’s surface several times.
Yes, the peacocks you see in this video are relatively small, but peacock bass don’t grow particularly large in any case. The Florida record is a hair over nine pounds, and the IGFA world record is 12.6 pounds. That said, size really isn’t the main attraction of peacock bass fishing. The thrill comes from catching an exotic species painted with vivid reds, yellows, and greens that we don’t normally see on our native species—right here in the good ol’ US of A.