The Florida freshwater fisherman is twice blessed. 1)We have excellent fishing for the Largemouth Bass. This must be the most popular fish in history. The amount of money and man-hours spent in his pursuit is phenomenal. 2)The Peacock Bass has now been introduced from South America into South Florida's already active recreational fishery.
LARGEMOUTH, Micropterus salmoides
Largemouth bass can be found in almost any freshwater body anywhere in the state. The tackle, lures and techniques you normally use will doubtless work as well here as anywhere else under similar conditions. The main advantage we have is that the season lasts 12 months a year. Also, the fish grow for 12 months a year.
While it doesn't seem likely that the next world record bass will come from Florida, you can spend a day catching fish up to 5 pounds and most areas offer some fish over 10 pounds.
Check out our Expert Tips for Largemouth Bass!
BUTTERFLY PEACOCK, Cichla ocellaris
Peacock bass are limited to Southeast Florida; including Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Within this area, the species is further restricted to the major deep-dredged canal systems due to it's very low tolerance for cold water conditions. Only those canals deep enough to extend into the water table offer winter protection. Fish will spread out during the summer and warm winters, but these canals are where the heaviest concentrations and largest fish will exist.
Most of the equipment and techniques you use for largemouth will catch some peacock bass, but few adjustments will increase your catch ratio considerably. I am not an expert on peacocks but the following tips seem to work. 1) Forget the worms. You can catch a peacock with one, but it will be a rare event. 2) If you are using live shiners, small ones seem to work better than large. 3) Jerking motions near the surface seem to trigger the most strikes. A Blk/Gld Rappala seems to be the #1 lure for peacocks. Sluggos seem to work about as well as they do with largemouth's. 4) You can keep fishing right through the brightest afternoon. Under bright conditions that would send a largemouth into deep cover, the peacock will be active and looking for a fight. (Here are a few additional links on Peacock Bass )
Check out our Expert Tips for Peacock Bass!
South Florida Canals and Structures
All of the fresh waters from Kissimmee to Florida Bay, including the rivers and canals of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties, are part of the South Florida Water Management District. Some of the most important information when fishing for largemouth or peacock bass in these areas are the water levels and current flows in the canals. If you follow the links for Recreational Maps you will find a link to a map of the "SFWMD Canals and Structures, 1.4 MB pdf". This will show you a map of the entire system with the location and name of all of the water control structures including pumps, locks, spillways, weirs and gated culverts. Then if you go back to the main page and follow the links to Technical Data you will find a link for "Real-time Data" that will take you to a database of the current status at these structures. If the gates are open or the pumps are pumping you can assume that there will be water flowing and fish biting. (BTW, the spillways closest to the intracoastal will often have snook and small tarpon along with the bass.)
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Last modified on 09/11/99.