Coloring pictures of fish

Coloring pictures of fish

Peacock Bass are one of my favorite fish. They have brilliant coloration and a ferocious attitude. As soon as I saw a picture of one I knew I had to catch one (preferably more than one). I caught my first one in a small lake in Kauai, Hawaii. It was small but it jumped a lot and lived up to my expectations and got me hungry for more.

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I've had the opportunity to pursue them in Panama, Florida, Brazil, and Venezuela. One of the great things about them is that each one looks slightly different in terms of coloration. A fully lit up peacock is one of the most (if not the most) beautiful fish in freshwater. They are very aggressive and smash topwater lures which is their main appeal to most anglers.





There are several species of Peacock Bass, but the primary ones are the Three-Bar and the smaller Butterfly. The former are only found in the Amazon; that latter have been transplanted to some other warm areas.

Peacock Bass taste very good but most are released. They grow up to around 30lbs but fish of that size are only found in the Amazon. In Florida, Panama, and Hawaii where they have the smaller Butterfly species and 5lbs is a large fish in any of those spots.





Tackle

If fishing for the smaller Butterfly species you can use fairly light spinning or baitcast tackle. For the large ones in the Amazon 30lb braided line should suffice but if you are casting large lures you might want a thicker braid for insurance. You have to worry about abrasion resistance more than strength with the thinner braid. They don't tend to be particularly line shy. I like to fish with a 25lb fluorocarbon leader but I'm not sure it's necessary. I like the peace of mind of greater abrasion resistance though. Great reels for these are the Daiwa Pluton and Shimano Curado.

Techniques

Peacock Bass are caught on both lures and bait, although in the Amazon they are primarily fished with lures.

Lures

Large topwater propeller lures are well known to attract the large peacocks in the Amazon. While these work, they are not a high percentage lure most of the time. However, the massive explosion the peacocks make when they attack these is worth giving up a few strikes. They should be fished in a rip-pause-rip rhythm most of the time. The rips should be 2-3ft so that you can throw up a lot of spray. This is not a subtle lure and the average size fish you get is larger than other lures. It's good to always have a heavier rod rigged with one of these to make a few casts over a promising point before probing with smaller lures.

Probably the best peacock bass lure is the bucktail jig of the type pictured below. Those catch both large ones and small ones, and my 19.5lb peacock pictured above bit a jig. They also have the side benefit of catching a number of other interesting Amazon species that don't usually hit the prop lures. If you want action, this is your lure.

A jerkbait like a Rapala X-Rap or a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow should catch some fish most of the time if fished erratically with quick jerks. I once had both a 15lb and a 6lb peacock hooked on the same X-Rap. After a tough back and forth battle the knot gave right at the boat. I let fly with a few choice expletives and thought that would be the end of it. However, a few minutes later the lure floated up with the fish still attached. I guess they got tired fighting each other. We floated closer and I lobbed a cast with another lure to try and snag the lure. Unfortunately the splash spooked the bigger fish and it powered downwards, taking the smaller fish with it. I can still see them sinking into the depths and the pain has only lessened slightly with time. A large caiman headed their way and I'm guessing they got eaten by it.

For smaller Butterfly peacocks in Hawaii, Panama, and Florida small jerkbaits fished erratically work well. I fished once in Florida during the spawn and the peacocks were visible close to the bank guarding nest sites. They were not eating, but if you could get a cast a jig exactly on top of their tails they would strike out of reflex. The casting had to be extremely precise (a cast even two inches off would not garner a strike) but we caught a good number of fish that way.

Baits

I have not done much bait fishing for peacocks. In the Amazon the piranhas often make it impossible. I tried slow trolling a big baitfish behind the boat in Brazil and the water literally boiled and the piranhas consumed it in seconds. In Panama you can successfully fish for smaller peacocks using the small sardine-like baitfish that are abundant in Lake Gatun where they are found. There are a ton of small Peacocks in that lake. I'm sure baitfish work well in areas with no piranhas.

Where to get the big ones


The Amazon river tributaries are where you get the big ones. The main river does not have a good fishery and many of the tributaries do not either. The best fisheries are generally slow-moving "blackwater" tributaries. You get a very short window in most areas to fish; usually just a few weeks per year. Most of the year the water level is too high and the water extends into the jungle. The fish head in there and become very spread out and very hard to catch. A good operator will cancel a trip at this point rather than let anglers suffer through poor fishing. The dry season concentrates the fish in a smaller area and makes them much easier to target. However, the dry season can (and nearly always does) vary from year to year in a particular area and rains during the dry season can raise water levels and make fishing tough. This fishery is tough to time but when you do it right it's amazing.

The Amazon fisheries are generally accessed in one of three ways: fixed lodge, mothership, or floating tents/camping. The fixed lodges can offer good fishing but if water levels are off, which they often are, you could be stuck catching few if any fish. Motherships offer more mobility to go where water levels are optimal, although in very dry conditions they may not be able to access all areas. Floating tents offer the most mobility and therefore the best shot at hitting things at the right time. There is really no way to fish these remote areas on the cheap as many are in restricted Indian reservations and you could be in serious trouble if you just tried to go in there on your own. If you want to chase big Peacock Bass you need to resign yourself to the cost.

Some of the other non-Amazon fisheries are much less sensitive to water levels. Lakes in Venezuela such as Guri or Camatagua offer year-round fishing although like anywhere they can run hot and cold. There are also significant security concerns in many parts of Venezuela. I lived there for 6 years and still have concerns, especially about Caracas. Florida has good year round fishing for the smaller Butterflies which are fun to catch and brightly colored. You can catch all you want in Lake Gatun, Panama but they are very small.























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