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From The Amazon to Your Backyard.. The Peacock Bass in Florida

There’s an eruption during your retrieve and immediately followed by one of the most vicious strikes you’ve ever encountered. The unknown assailant pulls drag, digging deeper to only reverse course and preform one of the most acrobatic shows you have ever witnessed. Your first thought is a monster Florida Black Bass,, but that idea vanishes when you notice the color scheme and the large bump on the fishes forehead. After one of the most trying and equipment testing battles, before you lies the unmistakable species that many can only dream about or watch on television shows recorded in exotic locations, The Butterfly Peacock Bass,
The Peacock Bass is native to the Wilds of South America., most commonly found in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins, The common misconception is that the Peacock is a member of the Bass family because of their close resemblance to the Largemouth., but actually they belong to the Non Native Cichild Genus. How the Peacock Bass made its way to South Florida is well known and documented. Considered Non Native but also Non Invasive, the Peacock Bass was brought to South Florida in 1984 by the Florida Wildlife Commission, The Three Stocks of fish were imported from Brazil, Guyana and Peru. After spawning at the FWC Non Native Research Lab and being tested for disease and parasites by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Auburn University, they were released to combat the over abundant exotic forage fish such as the Snakehead and Clown Knife Fish and Oscar.
The Peacock Bass has a body similar to that of the Largemouth Bass, but the color scheme is noticeably different. The younger examples are generally golden / green with three black bars that fade as the fish matures. There is also usually a very prominent black spot with a yellow – gold halo on the caudal fin (tail). The Peacock Bass is very fast growing, pushing an inch a month from one year to 18months common., while a 19′ fish can weigh five pounds. The Florida State Record Butterfly Peacock Bass is 9.11 pounds., undocumented catches of 12 pounds and up have been reported, The IGFA All Tackle World Record is 12.6 pounds and was caught in Venezuela, but 13 of the 16 current recognized IGFA World Records have been caught in Florida,
The Florida Butterfly Peacock Bass is very intolerant to Cold Water Temperatures and Water Salinity. The Peacock Bass is one of the most sought after freshwater species in Southeast Florida and the avid anglers haunt the many canals that are scattered a crossed this region. There have been reports of fish found North of West Palm County, but they cannot survive temperatures below 60degrees F and water salinities above 18ppm. This species is commonly found in canals, lakes and ponds, and prefers to feed and spawn in shallow water with vegetation. Spawning is typical between April and September, with the peak being the early Summer Months of May and June. The Female and Male will both prepare the Flat, Hard Surface Beds, where the female will lay up to 10,000 eggs. The Beds, and then the young will be guarded by both parents.
The most productive method of catching these amazing fish is live bait, but will also succumb to artificial lures and flies. The Butterfly Peacock bass also prefers to feed during the daylight hours, where they use their great speed to pursue and capture prey. These vicious feeding habits help keep the non-native and invasive species numbers in check.
The Butterfly Peacock Bass is edible, but the FWC recommends Catch and Release due to the valuable service they provide by keeping the invasive species that decimate the native residents in check. The Pursuit of this species is also an economic boon to the State, it is estimated that over 8 Million is spent by anglers hoping to catch this incredible species.
The Butterfly Peacock Bass is another example of just how amazing the fishing is here in South Florida. There was a time, not so long ago that any angler with aspirations of catching this species would have to spend a small fortune on travel to faraway lands and the expense of staying there upon arrival, when now millions of anglers have them just a short drive away., or often right in your own backyard. Again, Your Adventure Awaits… just get out there !

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