Peacock Bass are caught in south Florida, and winter regularly (five to seven days on average) brings cold fronts all the way down to the species' location near places like Fort Lauderdale and into the southeastern fresh waterways. Peacock Bass are a tropical fish and respond to cold water by being more slow-moving and slower eating. This lethargic nature goes away a bit just before and during a passing front, so watch both solunars and weather patterns to select the most productive winter days. And dress appropriately. The basic rule of thumb for catching the fish in the wintertime is that if you think you are moving your bait or lure too slowly, slow it down more.
Where the Fish are in the Winter Months
While surface temperatures drop in the wintertime, Peacock Bass move into warmer and deeper spots where the water is warmer. The water column tells you where you will find Peacock Bass in the winter. If the water is cold, they are going to be in deeper spots. Try edges of the channels you fish in the summer and places where the bottom drops from shallow to deep. They might not be in the deepest holes, but they will be closer to the bottom where the water is warmer. Once the water temperature drops below about 60F, they pretty much stop eating, and there are days when no baits or lures will produce.
Catching Peacock Bass in Deeper Water
Peacock Bass are from tropical waters and as such, begin acting differently when the water temperature falls below about 68F. Seasonal climate changes in Guatemala, Belize, or Panama, where you find them in their natural habitat, are not like they are in southern and southeastern Florida. Northerners might not think we have seasons here, but Peacock Bass know when winter arrives. Slow-moving lures are the key to your success, with the same jigs slowly dragged or bounced. Crank baits with lips that make them swim deep and slow will produce hits from these incredible golden and blue fish. Fish hit very softly sometimes in the winter, and other times barely tap the lure. It might take a few passes of the lure in front of a Peacock Bass at this time of year to get them to strike. Work the area thoroughly. Set the hook hard and set it fast. This is not bottom fishing with circle hooks. Set them and set them hard in the winter months. Winter feeding patterns begin as the water temperatures hit 62 degrees and falls into the extreme lower fifties. If the water in Florida falls into the fifties, a landing net is all that would be needed, assuming it were legal. Peacocks die in prolonged cold-water periods.
Catching Peacock Bass in Colder Shallow Water
Peacocks like warm water temperatures, and the shallow spots on your favorite Peacock Bass lake or river will show fish on days the sun warms that water a little. Shallow water changes temps fast; when it is cold, it gets cold fast, and when it warms it does that fast too. Fish know it and follow the temperatures so they're feeding under ideal conditions. As the water is starting to warm and the sun is high, the middle of the sunny warm day in winter will be better for Peacocks. The fish might be in deeper water when it is cool, but they will feed in shallow water when the sun comes out and heats the water. Something to think about: since the sun rises in the east, the morning and early afternoon bites should be better on the west side of the body of water you’re fishing. As the sun falls in the west, the east side of the body of water you’re fishing might be best. It’s all about warmer water.
Jigs excel in the winter time, especially in shallow water if you can see the Peacocks. You can keep them in front of their face longer, work them slower or even just twitch them without any forward movement. This method drives Peacock Bass crazy. Slower moving crankbaits and twitchbaits work as well as your topwater lures, but jigs in the winter are hard to beat.
An Overview of Catching Peacock Bass in the Winter
Most of the Peacock Bass you catch in really cold weather will happen just before or while fronts are passing. Solunar tables and local knowledge, combined with sunrise and sunset fishing, will make you better at Peacock Bass every time you get on the water in the winter. But do not limit your fishing in winter. It is warmer in the middle of the day and Peacock Bass will feed then. Tight lines from the gang at TheOnlineFisherman.com. Fish the edges of shallow water and try deeper and slower presentations if the fish are not cooperating.