By Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish
Despite its name, the peacock bass is a cichlid, not a bass, and can be found in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Panama, Singapore and Venezuela as well as the US. What this fish lacks in size, it makes up for in fight and mettle.
The speckled peacock bass is the largest of the species and grows to just over three feet; the smallest, the royal peacock bass, grows to a maximum length of one foot, 10 inches.
Having been called “freshwater bullies” because of their aggressive hunting and known tendency to damage fishing gear when striking, these spirited fish have a devoted following among anglers.
Though most professional anglers urge catch and release of these fish to protect their numbers, peacock bass are known for their sweet, white, non-oily flesh; the taste is often compared to snapper or even grouper. It is illegal to kill or possess speckled peacock bass due to their low numbers in Florida (this particular type of fish has not been found in Florida for more than 16 years), although butterfly peacock bass have flourished in the Sunshine State.
Though fishing techniques for these fish include some similarities to popular bass like the largemouth, peacock bass usually won’t strike artificial worms but will hit topwater lures and some subsurface lures. Fly fishing techniques using lures like poppers and large streamers have proven challenging and popular methods for catching these fish.
In Florida, there are a host of guide services available to help even the most intrepid angler land one of these beautiful, fascinating fish within the urban canals of Miami-Dade County.