Peacock Bass Tips for Beginners

Catching Peacock Bass should be on the top of your list if you live or are visiting the South Florida area. Peacock bass is high-octane colorful fish that anglers chase year-round in the tri-county areas. Keep reading to learn about peacock bass tips and tricks to catching more of this exiting fish.

Growing up in Miami in the mid-’70s and ’80s, I have been lucky enough to catch this non-native species for a long time.

We still pursue these fish today and have a blast doing so. Their bright color and ability to pull the drag on light setups make this fish a sought-after predator for many people in the South Florida area.

Let’s look at where these fish inhabit, how they got to South Florida, and what they eat so you can implement these tips and tricks on your next outing.

This guide will explain:

  • What a peacock bass is
  • Peacock bass tips for beginners and experienced anglers
  • What type of peacock bass species you can catch in Florida
  • Where to catch peacock bass
  • How to catch peacock bass
  • Best bait to use to catch peacock bass

Miami, Florida is the Epicenter for Peacock Bass

Miami Florida is the epicenter of Florida’s peacock bass stocking program. This is where these bass were first stocked all those years ago.

If you have not fished for peacock bass in Miami we highly recommend it. Get a good guide and you will see just how good peacock bass fishing can be.

This is not to say you cant catch peacock in the Broward county area or Sothern Palm Beach because that fishing is excellent as well. But Miami is where its at for quantity and size.

Those who are beginners find peacock fishing a fund and exiting way to get into fishing simply because they are aggressive eaters and are easy to catch once you find them.

What does Peacock Bass look like?

Butterfly peacock bass

Peacock bass has a very similar shape to a largemouth bass, but the colors are brilliant greens, orange, and gold with three vertical black bars that run down the fish’s sides.

This fish also possesses a black spot with a yellowish gold circle around the black dot on the tail or caudal fin of the peacock.

Peacock fins are usually bright orange, and the tips of their caudal fin can also have brilliant blues, especially when they’re in the water.

What species of peacock bass do we have in the United States?

Depending on where you’re from, you may not know that peacock bass cannot tolerate cold weather. Water temperatures are below 60 degrees, and these fish cannot survive. However, that leaves a tiny area for this fish to thrive.

Two species of peacock bass have been introduced into the South Florida waterways.

Butterfly Peacock Bass

Range:  South Florida, Miami, Broward, and Southern Palm Beach counties.

Florida Record: 9 lbs. 8 ounces caught by Jerry Gomez in Dade county

Diet: Small non-native fish species. (cichlid, oscars, and tilapia) Shiners, shad, and any other small fish live in their habitat.

Speckled Peacock bass

Range:  South Florida, Miami, Broward, and possible Southern Palm Beach counties.

Special Note:  Speckled peacock bass did not do well in reproducing in the South Florida area. You cannot kill or harvest one if caught.

Diet: Small non-native fish species. (cichlid, oscars, and tilapia) Shiners, shad, and any other small fish live in their habitat.

These basses were introduced to try and control non-native species like spotted tilapia, Midas Cichlid, and Oscar.

The butterfly peacock bass took off and now can be seen and caught in most canals and lakes from Southern palm beach County south. Miami is the epicenter of this incredible fish.

The speckled peacock never took, and because of this, you cannot kill or harvest one.

What is the geographical range of a Peacock Bass?

Peacock bass is originally from tropical waters and not native to Florida. They cannot withstand water temperatures below 60 degrees.

Because of this, they are isolated to the tri-county area of South Florida. So, first, Miami is the epicenter, followed by Broward and Southern Palm Beach county.

Most large canal systems in South Florida will have many peacock basses. These fish dominate some canals.

Peacock Bass Tip

These fish cannot tolerate cold water temps. Fish the southern part of Florida’s Dade, Broward, and Southern Palm Beach canal and lake system.

The ideal temperature for peacock bass?

The hotter the weather, the more comfortable they are for peacock bass. Like we said before, these are tropical native fish, and cold water temperatures are not their friend. The hotter, the better.

We find some of our best fishing for catching peacock bass are late mornings and well into the afternoon when the sun’s high.

Peacock Bass Tip

  • These fish cannot tolerate cold water temps. The hotter, the better, and summer months when water temps reach the upper 80’s and low 90’s make these fish feel right at home.
  • Sleep in, fish later in the day.

How big can peacock bass get?

A typical average fish will weigh about 2 to 2 2/2 lbs. However, it is not uncommon to catch fish running up to 5 lbs.

The Florida IGFA record butterfly peacock is 9 lbs. 8 ounces caught by Jerry Gomez in Dade county in 1993.

It is reported that these fish can grow up to 1 inc a month and reach about 12 inches in size the first year.

Other IGFA Florida Peacock Records

peacock, Popoca (8 lb 0 oz) Kendall, Florida, USA Landed by: Scott Rose

(Cichla monoculus)

Did you know

  • A typical average fish will weigh around 2 lbs
  • Florida butterfly peacock record is 9lbs. 8 ounces.

What habitat do Peacock Bass like?

Peacock bass love structure just like largemouth bass do. So you can find these fish around rocks, brush, lily pads, vegetation, bridge structures, concrete structures, walls, and just about any other place that would hold fish.

Peacock Bass love dead ends with concrete structures.

We have found large numbers of peacocks schooled together around walls in the fish areas. Example: When fishing lakes or large canal systems, look for spans where a road would intersect with the canal and a culvert or pipe connects through. Those walls on each side can produce a large number of peacock bass.

What makes Miami and Broward an excellent area for peacocks is the canal systems are deep enough for these fish to make it through a hard-cold snap. And these counties are the farthest south making them the warmest areas in the country.

Peacock Bass Tip for beginners

  • Fish dead ends within canals.
  • Fish later in the morning and into the afternoon.
  • Fish shallow.

What live baits will they eat?

Peacock bass isn’t discriminatory feeders. But other fish are their primary food source of the peacock bass, and they will eat just about any other smaller fish they can get.

Peacock bass, in my opinion, is faster and more agile than largemouth bass and relies more on speed and brute force than hiding and attacking prey.

They won’t use this method, but I have seen them chase down other fish more times than I have largemouth bass and for longer distances.

These fish were stocked in Florida canals to control the spotted tilapia, and they love them. But they will eat small sunfish, all other types of cichlid, small Oscar, shiner, shad, and other small non-native fish.



The Oscar has been in Florida waters since the 1950s and is a favorite food item of the peacock bass and one of the main reasons they were introduced to South Florida.

Spotted Tilapia

Spotted tilapia

The spotted tilapia has overrun South Florida canals and waterways. Since the 1970s, since they were introduced, they have never stopped reproducing and growing. Tilapia is a favorite food source of peacock bass.

African Jewel Cichlid

Jeweled Cichlid

These colorful fish are striking and, in some cases, so exotic-looking you don’t want to fish with them. But peacock bass loves them.

Peacock bass will also eat shiner, brim, and any other sunfish that is the water with them. Peacock bass will also eat their own young.

What are the best artificial baits for Peacock bass?

We have caught many peacock basses through the years using flukes to swimbaits. Let us show you some of our favorite baits to help catch peacock bass.

Flukes with weighted heads

One of my favorite baits to throw at these fish as of late are small jig heads on 4-inch flukes.

When presented correctly, these baits can be fished at all levels of depth and can be fished quickly, making these fish turn angry and strike.

Spinner Baits Produce

Spinnerbaits produce fish and can be fished at any depth. Try buzzing these baits quickly at the top over and close to the structure. Then, recast the bait, let it sink, and tic the bottom for deeper fish.

These baits have produced a lot of large peacock bass for us. In addition, these baits work very well for nesting peacocks.

Original Rapala

Everyone should own some of the original Rapala baits. These baits have been producing fish for years and are very versatile.

You can fish them by twitching them at the surface or a quick twitch and sitting just under the surface.

These shallow running baits are deadly on a peacock and other game fish around the south Florida area.

Rattle Trap Baits catch peacock bass

Rattle baits like the original rattle trap drive peacock bass nuts. These are some of the colors we have had great success with. There are so many great freshwater colors from rattle trap that we know will produce. Please take a look at their website to see for yourself.   Rattle trap.

Throw a fly

Fly fishermen have great success when targeting peacock bass on the fly. There are so many standard fly patterns to choose from that can mimic a baitfish you could spend all day looking at options.

A fly looks excellent in the water and can be stripped quickly, making peas go nuts. Work your baits a little quicker with long and short darts, then pause for a few seconds and strip again; this will produce strikes.

Deceivers with flash or Mylar get crushed and seem to be a top bait when it comes to fly fishing.

Here are a few patterns that will work. But believe me, countless more designs will also produce.


Find all of Enrico Puglisi flies

Go directly to the baby peacock 4/0 fly


Find this fly at


Find this fly at

These are just some of the artificial baits that will catch peacock bass. Many more baits mimic baitfish that will work great also; tie one on and give it a try.

Remember, peacocks love to eat other small fish. So match the hatch, run your baits a little quicker and hold on; you’ll get tight. Comment on your favorite tricks below.

In closing

Peacock bass is a BLAST to catch. Remember, if you live in or around the tri-county area of South Florida, these fish are in your backyard. If you don’t, plan a trip down to South Florida and get tight on some of these fantastic fish.

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