A Guide to Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay

Many places in Florida offer fantastic fishing opportunities that you can’t find elsewhere. One of the gamefish species you usually can only find within the state is Peacock bass. Many tourist anglers know that catching the Peacock bass is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But Florida locals and avid anglers, sometimes see it as a daily occurrence!

The next time you’re in Tampa Bay waters, it’s worth targeting Peacock bass. But you’re probably wondering: HOW?!

Read on as we share a quick guide to Peacock bass fishing in Tampa Bay!


A Guide to Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay

Peacock bass is a popular gamefish many anglers target because of their vivid colors and vicious strikes. They are known to out-fight largemouth bass, giving you a run for your money!

Surprisingly, even if the species is popular in Florida, Peacock bass aren’t native to the state! Rather, officials brought Peacock bass to the waters on purpose, thus flourishing in South Florida waters for years now. The reason why officials brought the species into the waters in 1984 was to help combat invasive species like tilapia and cichlids.

If you’re wondering what Peacock bass are, exactly, they are a family of fish from the Amazon River and South America. The ones we catch in Florida are butterfly peacock bass, measuring between 16-20 inches and weighing between 3-6 pounds.

You’ll be able to find Peacock bass thriving in Southern Florida’s freshwater systems along Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They are also plentiful in Tampa Bay.

Now that you know more about the species, here are a few tips when it comes to successful Peacock bass fishing in Tampa Bay:

Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay

Fishing Techniques to Use

The best technique to target and catch Peacock bass successfully is through using light spinning or fly gear.

Because Peacock bass would obliterate life in the waters they live in, they will be attracted to and consume various bait. Live bait is most recommended, but Peacock bass will also go for other lures like plugs, popping bugs, spoons, or streamer flies. Avoid plastic worms though, as they won’t like them.

Once you have your gear and bait ready, attracting Peacock bass to your bait will be easy. The moment you get a bite, the fun will begin! Since they are freshwater bullies, their aggressive hunting and fishing power will test your skills. Just be careful, as Peacock bass can be so strong that you’ll end up with damaged gear!


Tips on Catching Peacock Bass

Before anything else, here are more few helpful tips when Peacock bass fishing in Tampa Bay:

  • Remember that Peacock bass is aggressive predators and will usually strike lures with reckless abandon. You’ll end up being shocked as the species is strong and hits without warning! That’s why it’s important to be aware while fishing to avoid being taken by surprise and missing your opportunity.
  • When it comes to bait, the best ones to use are live shiners or shad. You can also opt for crankbaits, topwater poppers, jerk baits, and even walk-the-dog lures.
  • As for your gear, you have more chances of success with a medium-light spinning tackle and an 8-pound line. You can also opt for fly fishing, using popper flies and minnow-imitating streamers.
  • The best time to target Peacock bass is during the summer, as they are warm-weather fish. Opt to target them from April to September. As for the time of day, target morning and evening hours. That said, Peacock bass won’t be biting come night!
  • When figuring out where to target Peacock bass, focus on edges. When targeting canals, note that they would usually suspend along near-vertical canal edges. Sometimes, they hide in shady spots as they wait to ambush baitfish.
  • The species will also usually use structures like bridges, culverts, drop-offs, ledges, and rocks as their ambush points.
  • Besides Tampa Bay, you can find Peacock bass in many parts of Southern Florida, including Broward and Miami-Dada County Canals, Miami Airport Lakes, Fort Lauderdale, the Golden Gate Canals, and Lake Osborne or Lake Ida.

Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay

Can You Keep Peacock Bass?

It is legal to keep two Peacock bass fish, with butterfly peacock bass being the most common catch from the family. That said, only one of those two catches can measure 17 inches or longer. Moreover, even if you are allowed to keep them, many professional anglers tend to practice catch-and-release fishing with this species for conservation purposes.

What you cannot possess, or kill is speckled peacock bass, and this is an illegal offense. That’s because this species is low in number around the state.

Note that these regulations can change, so be sure you stay updated on Florida’s fishing regulations before heading to the waters.


Is Peacock Bass Edible?

Yes, this fish is edible and known for their excellent meat! In fact, Peacock bass is known for their white and non-oily meat that tastes similar to Snappers. But again, even if they taste great, many anglers opt to release Peacock bass after reeling them in.

Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay

Do You Need a License?

Just like catching many other species, you will need a fishing license. More specifically, you’ll require a freshwater fishing license, which you must acquire before you head to the waters. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to avail of a fishing license. You can just purchase one online or in various retailers like Walmart, registered fishing shops, and even tax collector’s offices!


Wrapping It Up

Did you learn a lot from our guide to Peacock bass fishing in Tampa Bay? We sure hope you did!

Now that you know more about how to land this prized gamefish species, it’s now time to prepare for the ultimate fishing trip. Don’t forget to book a fishing charter in Tampa Bay to increase your chances of catching Peacock bass and learning more about the fishing action in the area. Contact us now to book a charter!

Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay
Peacock Bass Fishing in Tampa Bay


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