Florida Peacock bass guide, Capt. Mark Hall Florida Peacock Bass
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COMMON NAME: Butterfly Peacock Bass, Peacock Bass

DESCRIPTION:
The body shape of florida peacock bass is similar to that of a largemouth bass; Their appearance is highly variable, but generally golden with three black vertical bars that tend to fade and are possibly absent in older fish; black spot (false eye)with a yellow-gold halo on the caudal fin.

RANGE:
Introduced by FWC in large coastal canals of southeast Florida in 1984; low water temperatures and intolerance of saltwater prevent this species from becoming abundant outside of coastal Miami-Dade and Broward counties.  Native range lies within the Amazon River basin of South America. Peacock bass have also been successfully introduced to Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

HABITAT:
Peacock bass thrive in warm, slow flowing canals, ponds, lakes, deep rock pits, and lateral canals; frequently found in shady areas around bridges, culverts, canal intersections, bends, dead ends, and near fallen trees.The peacock spawns and often feeds in shallow water adjacent shorelines with overhanging vegetation. Florida Peacock bass cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60F or salinities greater than 18 ppt.

SPAWNING HABITS:
Peacock bass typically spawn from April through September with a peak in May and June; ( Florida's Peacock bass seem to peak a couple of months earlier) both adults prepare a flat, hard surface near shore, then lay between 4,000 and 10,000 eggs. Young are guarded by both parents, sometimes for several months; males commonly develop a ‘nucchal' hump on foreheads when reproductively active. Florida's Peacock bass are most aggressive during the spawn and while guarding their young.

FEEDING HABITS:
Peacock bass feed almost exclusively on fish; tend to use great speed to capture prey. Peacock bass typically feed during daylight hours. Butterfly peacock bass has helped reduce the number of undesirable exotic fishes, especially the spotted tilapia.

AGE AND GROWTH:
Peacock bass grow rapidly to 12-14 inches during the first 16-18 months, after which they become much heavier with each inch they add in length. A 17-inch fish will weigh approximately three pounds while a 19-inch fish will weigh up to five pounds.  The largest butterfly peacock bass caught in Florida weighed 12.0 pounds and measured 25.5 inches, this fish was not submitted for a state record.  It is not known how long they live, but data suggests about six years.


SPORTING QUALITY:

Most popular sportfish in southeast Florida coastal canals where it generates millions of hours of fishing pleasure for thousands of anglers .Florida Peacock bass are available to both boat and bank anglers using the same basic tackle as largemouth bass anglers; small shiners are the preferred live bait; rarely take plastic worms like largemouth bass do, but top-water lures, minnow imitating crank and jerk baits, and marabou jigs are popular artificial baits; streamers, epoxy minnows and pencil poppers are favorites of fly fishers; daily bag limit of two fish, only one of which can be greater than 17 inches. I strongly recommend not killing them. gps

STATE AND WORLD RECORDS:
The state record for the Florida Peacock bass is 9.08 pounds, but fish up to 12 pounds have been caught; current IGFA all-tackle world record  is 12.6 pounds (caught in Venezuela); 13 of the 16 current IGFA world records for the Butterfly Peacock bass have been cought caught from Florida waters.