I would like to share some tips on tackle and techniques for Peacock Bass fishing that I have learned the hard way over the course of the last decade. Reading this article may greatly improve your chances of catching the fiercest fighting fresh water fish the next time you go Peacock Bass fishing.
One of my small claims to fame is catching fish on 6 continents and the “Seven Seas”. The only fish I have caught that fought harder, pound for pound, than a Peacock Bass was a Tuna. Although the Tuna was a thrill, Peacock Bass fishing in the wild lush tropical Amazon Rainforest is infinitely more interesting than fishing out of sight of land.
First I want to thank the marketing genius that called this member of the Ciclid family a Peacock Bass. Peacock Bass fishing has a nice ring to it, but the only similarities between a Peacock Bass and a Largemouth Bass is they both have big mouths, and the record size catch is over 27 pounds. A Largemouth Bass puts up a good fight for a few minutes; a Peacock Bass is still fighting long after you land it in the boat.
The best months for Peacock Bass fishing
The best months for Peacock Bass fishing are during the beginning of the low water season when the water level drops down out of the flooded jungle, the banks are visible, and before the fish begin to spawn. In the upper Amazon of Peru that is usually from the middle of July to the end of August, give or take a week on either end.
The best time of day for peacock bass fishing
The best time of day for Peacock Bass fishing is early in the morning. Peacock Bass are inactive at night and wake up hungry.
Start out quiet, sneak up on them
Start out quiet. Sneak up on them with your favorite quiet lure. Tie on a floating minnow, a jointed rapala, or walk the dog with a Zara Spook. If they are not biting on quiet top water lures, switch to quiet underwater lures. Try a jerk bait, a jig worked fast, like a jerk bait, or an inline spinner bait tied to a swivel. If they are not biting on quiet lures, then switch to the more aggressive propellers, rattles, poppers, and chuggers. You must experiment to find what works. What caught fish yesterday may not catch fish today? Don’t get skunked only fishing your favorite lure. At least if you get skunked, come back here and tell me you used every tip in this article.
Soft plastic baits don’t work
Soft plastic baits don’t work for me in the Amazon. Piranhas nip them off right behind the hook before there is time to catch anything, and skirts on spinner baits get shorter every cast.
Peacock Bass fishing is tough on tackle
Peacock Bass fishing is tough on tackle. Just accept it. Replacing the treble hooks with larger salt water trebles, and 100 pound test split rings ruins the balance and action of the lure. Some hooks will be straightened, some split rings bent. That is good, you have action. If they are biting, go with larger lures for bigger fish. If they are not biting, downsize your presentation.
Find them using sight and sound
Finding peacock bass is the hardest part. When you find them you have a chance. Watch your lure all the way to the boat to see if a peacock is following it. Listen for the distinctive splashing sound of peacock bass feeding on bait fish at the surface. Fish those areas thoroughly. Change your presentation if they are not biting. You can not force your style of fishing on them. Pay attention, let them show you what excites them.
Think structure and cover
Cast to structure and cover, heavy structure is usually best. Work the length of all logs with several casts with a top water lure and then follow up with a jig, jerk bait, or spinner bait. Spinner baits are good to probe the heaviest cover because they hang up the least. They can be made more effective with a piece of cut bait. Consider the bank to be structure and cast right up against it and drag back out, particularly if there are logs or brush near by.
Points and sand bars
One of the most overlooked fish holding locations are the openings into lagoons from the river. Fish it on the way in. Treat it like the most important point, which it is.
Fan cast all over a point or sand bar with a top water lure and then follow up with a jig, jerk bait or inline spinner bait, (tied to a swivel to prevent line twist). Points and sand bars are more effective if there are logs or brush and a slope to deeper water. Fish them hard.
The best place to catch another peacock bass is right where you caught the last one. Remember, finding them is the hardest part. If you catch one, assume there is a school, and fish that area thoroughly.
The best fishing system
The best fishing system is the team work with two anglers per boat. When one angler catches a fish, the partner should cast right into the same area, as soon as possible without interfering with the first catch. Try not to boat the first fish until a second one is hooked by your partner. Double catches are common with this system.
I have saved the most important advice for last
The biggest mistake most of us make peacock bass fishing is to set the hook too soon, particularly on a top water lure. Often a peacock bass will head butt a lure, or roll over it, or slap it with its tail, and splash all around. It can be so exciting you will want to set the hook on air, and end up jerking the lure clear back to the boat, missing the fish completely.
Keep working the lure at approximately the same pace you were before the commotion started, (maybe just a little faster, like a wounded fish trying to escape). Wait until you feel the peacock bass on the line, then set the hook. Now you have a fighting fish on the other end. If the fish is headed for cover and stripping line off your reel, don’t try to horse it right back to the boat. Instead try to steer it away from cover by sweeping your rod tip sideways. If it is jumping, or charging the boat, do your best to reel all of the slack out the line as fast as possible. Keep the line tight at all times.
Now you have an amazingly powerful fish still fighting, but up close, in the boat, with a mouth full of treble hooks. Unlike a black bass, you can not lip lock and immobilize a peacock bass. Trust me, don’t even try. Please be very careful. That may be your most dangerous moment in the Amazon Rainforest. Use long nosed pliers, or a long handled alligator clip to remove the hook. Better yet, let your guide handle it until it is time for the photo.
As all fishermen know, Peacock Bass fishing is not the same as catching Peacock Bass. The goal of this article is to increase the odds of you catching one of the most exciting and beautiful fresh water sport fish in the world. No matter what, it won’t be just another day on the Amazon River. It was not practical to include everything that I have learned about Peacock Bass in one article, which is why I plan a series of articles in the next few weeks including more details about specific lines, lures, and lore, combined with stories of my personal experiences to help illustrate my suggestions. If you are interested in Peacock Bass fishing, please subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you do not miss out on the next installments.
Many of you have great experience and knowledge of Peacock Bass fishing. We would appreciate if you would share some of your expert advice in the comment section below. Even if you have only fished for Peacock Bass a few times, I am sure you have a story to tell that the rest of us would enjoy reading. Share your experience with us. Leave a comment.
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Thank you and best regards,
Bill Grimes, President and one of the fishing guides for Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises.
Read an informative article about the characteristics of Peacock Bass, pre-spawn and spawn behavior, post spawn behavior, growth, and Peacock Bass research.
This is the first installment of a seven part series about Peacock Bass Fishing. If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my RSS feed so you do not miss the rest of the stories.
Click these links to the other 6 articles in the Peacock Bass fishing series.