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Inshore Fish!ing Report

Peacocks Headed East?

Boca Raton, Fl

Aug. , 1998

by: Jim Sawyer

Some of you may already know Ron Looi from the internet. That is how I first met him. When I posted my first page about Peacock Bass, he not only warned me that I had a picture of the wrong species, but also supplied me a picture of the right one and the names of some other people on the net with similar interests.

Ron is from Malaysia and he is studying the possibility of introducing peacock bass in his country the same way, and for many of the same reasons, that we did here in Florida. The damming of Malaysia's rivers has had a negative impact on the native gamefish populations, while introduced species (mainly tipula) go uncontrolled due to the lack of any natural predators. Peacocks might utilize this forage base and supply an excellent freshwater sport fishery just like they have in Florida.

When I found out that Ron was in the US on business and was free to visit Fla. for a couple days I offered to be his driver while he was here. It turned out to be a very pleasant and interesting experience.

On the first day we drove up to the Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission (GFC) in Boca Raton to meet Paul Shafland. In case you didn't know, Paul and the GFC were the ones who introduced the Peacock bass to South Florida in the mid 80's. There had been earlier attempts to introduce Peacocks to the US and Florida, but it was Paul's insight into the special conditions in our deep, box-cut canal system and the un-utilized forage base of introduced blue tipula that made the program a success. Not only has this produced an exciting new freshwater fishery for our growing urban population, but also taken some pressure off the native largemouth bass and added an estimated four million dollars to the local economy last year.

Ron Looi, Mark Sosin, Paul ShaflandPaul gave us a complete tour of the facility, including the ponds where the original 20,000 Peacocks were reared for introduction into Dade's canals. While we were there we were joined by Mark Sosin who is another of Ron's many friends. This, of course, lead to a round of fishing stories. I was surprised to learn that Mark had started his career as a bass fisherman and that he was involved in getting a web site on line.

Day two was fishing trip with Carlos Hidalgo who is the author of the book "South Florida's Peacock Bass". We met in West Broward to sample one of the area's residential canals that Carlos was familiar with. Although Carlos and I work for the same College, we had not met before.

Ron Looi and Carlos Hidalgo with Florida largemouth bassNow, you have to remember that Ron is halfway around the world from his home and has just flown from Seattle, Washington to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida just to investigate our Peacock Bass fishery because although we caught dozens of bass, not one of them was a Peacock. The local largemouths were schooling and were all over the schools of shad moving thru the canals. The few Peacocks we did find may have been a little shell-shocked and were keeping a low profile. Carlos had warned us that this was an occasional occurrence. Still, it was great fishing and Ron did get to see first hand what our suburban fishery was like.

I have repeatedly used Ron as an example of why I am so excited about the internet. His offer to help with my first pages from Malaysia was the first time I really understood why it was called the "World Wide" web. His brief visit was also an excellent example of the open companionship and willingness to help so often found in the fishing community.

Capt. Asaro with Peacock BassBTW, I couldn't post this report without at least one picture of a peacock bass. A couple weeks after Ron's trip, Carlos and I got together again with Capt. Asaro for a trip to the Airport Lakes in Miami. This time the Peacocks were bitting, along with the largemouth, tarpon and a nice Fat Snook. Sorry Ron, wish you could have been there!

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Last modified on 12/24/98.