Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Florida peacock bass

Fishing the Florida Canals

I have been VERY remiss about posting lately. Between a family vacation and a lot of work, I haven't been able to get out to do much - if any - fishing. Add in a case of Writer's Block, and the end result is NO BLOG POSTS. But - my job took me to Florida last week and I got a chance to go fishing with an old friend for peacock bass, something that has been on my short list of "things to catch" for a while. (Actually, I caught one small one in a FLA canal about 13 years ago, but wanted a decent representation of the species for my photo collection)

The first thing you should know about Florida peacocks is that, as you would suspect, they are outsiders that have established themselves in the waters of S. FLA. This is the absolute northern part of their range, as they are intolerant of even cool water temps. The best populations are found in extreme south Florida, primarily in Dade County, around Miami. Being tropical fish, they are most active in the hottest part of the day. We fished from 9 AM until 6 PM. The temperature was around 95, with a heat index well over 100. Now, one thing you need to know about me - I HATE hot weather. I would much rather fish in cold rain, and wear the right clothes, than sweat in the heat. Middle aged, overweight, balding, pale skinned guys are NOT meant for the heat of Miami. The only thing that could lure me into this weather is the promise of fishing.

I met up with my guide at 8 in the morning on Saturday. Billy Bob Crosno is, in a word, a character. I've fished with Billy Bob in the past, and he is a very good fisherman, excels at putting you on fish and making good suggestions about how to catch them, and the man is nothing if not entertaining. 8 hours in a boat with Billy Bob flies by. If you are in the south Florida area and are looking for agood guide for either largemouth or peacocks, give Billy Bob a shout. www.fishingwithbillybob.com

We fished the canal system in Dade Co. As you can see from the pictures, you fish literally in peoples back yards when in these canals. We fished hard in the intense heat, but the fish were less than cooperative. For the uninitiated (like me prior to this trip), when you fish for peacocks, you try to get them to bite by basically irritating them into it. They attack baits and lures out of territorial urges rather than feeding. So - you have to work you baits fast and erratic to entice them to hit. This is a LOT of work. And - did I mention it was hot??

A nice peacock bass

End of the day showed a tally of 4 fish landed - 1 very small largemouth, 1 small peacock, and 2 nice peacocks, both around 3-1/2 - 4 pounds. Everything was taken on topwaters - Baby Torpedoes or Zara Spooks. One shook and broke the line while being unhooked (so no picture) but one was gracious enough to allow himself to be photographed. Beautiful colors, great fighters. I also missed about 5 or 6 hits - some missed the lures, others hit it and I missed them. And so it goes.

A litle snook. You never know what you might catch in these S. FLA waters

Whenever I'm in a new area, I love to observe the nuances of the local wildlife. Much the same as the peacock bass is an exotic that has taken root and now occurs naturally, the south Florida area is absolutely loaded with iguanas. Originating from released or escaped pets, they are now naturally reproducing. Some of them are HUGE - 5 feet and longer! They're very cool and don't run away too much when they're having their pictures taken. I was intrigued by them the whole time.

A male iguana showing off his orange-ish colors

A green female in a backyard.

On Sunday we got out for a couple hours to see if we could find any schooling jacks, bass, or peacocks. I got one small snook on a jerkbait, and missed a decent hit from a small-ish tarpon - around 15 pounds. We saw a lot of tarpon that morning but they were mostly dis-interested in what I threw at them.

All-in-all, a nice trip. All fishing experiences are nice, though. It's too hot down there for my taste. I guess I could get used to it if I had to, but I still prefer the moderate temps up North.

Did I mention it was hot????


Shoreman said...

Hey Wolfy. Glad to see you back on the keyboard. From personal experience, you never get used to the heat in South Florida. I can remember my Father getting ready for work. Between his shower and walking out the door, the back of his shirt was already soaked. The heat, The humidity, The bugs, all horrible. As a kid, we lived in a bathing suit all summer. I didn't even wear shoes. The bottoms of my feet were so tough, I could walk on the pavement barefoot. Like I said, you never get used to it.

mark (Shoreman)

Ben said...

Nice job on getting out fishing during your business trip! Those peacock bass and snooks look like fun to catch.

wandering owl said...

Wolfy! Welcome back. That looks like some good fishing. Added a couple of new species to the "I've caught" list?
It's nice when work can involve a side trip. Way to go!

Wolfy said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. I always like getting feedback.

That heat just saps the life out of me - I'm loving life back in Illinois, where its been struggling to break 80!

OWL - actually, I had caught both snook and peacock before, so I didn't get to add anything to the life list this year (yet!) Also - I'm going to be in Prarie du Chien on Aug. 11-13 and might try to fish an evening or morning in NW Iowa - any suggestions for wading for rock bass / smallmouth / largemouth / anything that bites??


wandering owl said...

Wolfy - check your e-mail. Hope I can help!

The Fisherbabe said...

Hey!! GREAT photos!! I just love peacock bass and SOMEDAY ima get me one or eight!!

Sounds like a great trip!! Have fun on your upcoming one and let me know when you get those hammers!!


Wolfy said...

ONE WEEK and Counting , Lizzie!!
BTW - I didn't comment on your latest blog post because, well, it's just WAY out of my area of expertise!!

Fish Whisperer said...

Just found your blog. Peacock bass are on my list also. Great report and nice fish. I am adding you to my blog roll.
Tight lines