Peacock Bass in… Texas???

Did you know there were 16,000 peacock bass in Texas? Well, there were—back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In fact, these fish were planted in lakes Alcoa, Coleto Creek, and Bastrop. Unfortunately, they didn’t take. I say it’s unfortunate because these are some wild-looking, lure-smashing fish.

This Floridian peacock bass fought like a fish twice its size. 

Since then the idea has been floated to introduce peacocks in some lakes with power plant discharges, where they might be able to find the hot water they thrive in year-round. But at least for now, if you want to chase a peacock you’ll have to head for a South American destination (really far south, like Venezuela or Peru), or to a strange and exotic place (really strange and exotic, like southern Florida).

Recently I had the chance to take a poke at peacocks in south Florida, and not only did I survive this trip to bizarre-o-world (if you’ve been to Miami, you know what I mean), I actually got to enjoy some pretty decent peacock bass action. True, the Floridian peacocks aren’t as big as those found in foreign destinations, unless, like me, you count going to Florida as international travel. They tend to grow no bigger than largemouth, whereas in the Amazon River basin 20-pounders can be found. Still, catching them is a serious thrill. They strike, jump, and fight like few other species can.

I’m certainly no expert when it comes to peacock bass fishing, but I did go with a guide and I can pay attention. So just in case you decide to risk life and limb with a trip to Miami for peacock bass—or if the TPWD decides to give it another shot—here are a few peacock bass fishing tips I picked up on the trip.

  • Forget about sunrise and sunset. These fish like it hot—really, really hot—and they feed best when the sun is bright and directly overhead.
  • If you’re fishing with bait, let them eat a good five or six seconds before setting the hook. These fish will often grab a shiner and swim around with it for several seconds, thrashing as they try to crush and kill it, before taking the entire bait into their mouth.
  • Look for them in the exact same places you’d find largemouth bass, except for the shade. Rocky outcroppings, docks, and deadfall all attract peacock bass.

Lenny Rudow: