Catching Peacock Bass in the Springtime

Springtime is when young hearts are filled with love and fish are hungry, breeding, and willing to eat your lure or baits. The last few decades have introduced a new fish to our incredible freshwater fishery – the beautiful Peacock Bass – and like most all other fish, they get very active in the springtime. If you want to catch one of these incredibly colorful southern Florida species, springtime is an excellent time to make it happen.

Where the Fish Are in the Springtime

Both Peacock (also called Butterfly Bass) and Largemouth Bass spawn close to shore. This need for hard and shallow bottom is a constant. The fish spawns a little differently than their black cousins, with the typical south Florida spawn starting in April and going through the summertime, with peaks in May and June. Like the Largemouth Bass, the adults build nests near the shoreline. These flat beds are created where the underlying mud is denser, so as to provide a hard bottom. They lay between 4,000 and 10,000 eggs.

The males develop a distinct and apparent lump on their heads during the spawn. Scientists call them a Nucchal hump. Non-scientists will tell you the males have a huge forehead when they are breeding. Both males and females have been seen creating these springtime beds, but the females lay the eggs and the males protect them from Bluegill, lizards, and – did we mention - crayfish.

Catching Peacock Bass Near the Shoreline

Peacock Bass are predators that behave pretty-much like Largemouth Bass, so if you have fished close to shore for Largemouth, the same waters will produce Peacocks. They feed on all Panfish, including Bluegill and Red Ears, but they also use that prey-rich cover to hide from the things that eat them. You can well imagine them being attractive to gators, birds, and other fish. Suffice it to say that vegetation close to shore or any structure will hold fish. Jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures work well, but so do artificial frogs and other lures that make noise. Rocks and weeds are challenging to fish, but they can really produce. A small popping fly can be tossed into some tight open water and produce Peacock Bass too, so if you fly fish, keep your focus on shoreline structure.

Shore peacock bass fishing. This “RipRap” is a stone wall installed in many of the Peacock Bass-rich (and Largemouth Bass too) waters to keep erosion from occurring. There are also upright sea walls, trees, bushes, and other vegetation adding to the structure. Some of the walls are almost vertical, having been cut from the agatized coral that underlies much of Miami and southern Floridian homesteads. Peacocks love coral structure.

Peacocks on the Beds

There are an increasing number of conservation-minded anglers that choose not to target fish when they're on their beds. The males spend all their time watching for creatures looking to eat those eggs, and there are lots of eggs and lots of things hungry for them. Peacock Bass are aggressive, and the males will immediately remove anything you throw in there nine times out of ten. People that do fish them find that jigs seem to aggravate the fish more than just about any lure. In reality, almost anything that gets in or around a Peacock’s bed is going to be attacked and annihilated by the Peacock Bass.

An Overview of Catching Peacock Bass in the Springtime

Springtime is the beginning of the Peacock’s spawn, though you can catch them all year under almost any conditions, even if you do not use the most perfect bait, using the right bait at the right time makes springtime the best of all seasons. They are a beautiful, popular species, and are a standard target for our active south Florida angling community. Good luck catching them, and if you do, send us some pictures.

  • Grab your rod, let's go fishing!

    Grab your rod, let's go fishing!

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