When do Peacock bass spawn in Florida

I consider the best time of year to catch a Trophy is during their annual spawning season. Down here in South Florida, the peacock bass spawn can be around late February to about the ending of April. 

These freshwater bruisers are ready to spawn annually once they reach about 10-12 months of age. The Florida Butterfly Peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris ) chooses a partner and goes off together to find a home to nest and lay eggs. 

The fish get incredibly aggressive once they have done this at a nesting site. They will destroy anything they see as a significant threat to their eggs. They almost always stay on their nest until the new batch of Monster Peacock bass is born.

Trophy 7 pound Peacock Bass

The peacock bass can be found around these typical structures; this is what the Peacock Bass uses for spawning. They usually like a sandy shallow section of the lake or canal bottoms with a system likes these below. The locations are also shared with all the invasive species we have in Florida. You can find our Florida Non-Native Exotic Invasive Fish Species Guide helpful for learning more about exotics in Florida.

This Peacock bass habitat is what you usually see in South Florida lakes, ponds, and canals. They will nest on items like PVC pipes, tires, shopping carts, concrete blocks, natural stone, and lime rock.

Pipes

Peacock Bass Spawning Habitat

Downed Trees

Peacock Bass Spawning Habitat

Shopping carts

Peacock Bass Spawning Habitat

How to identify Male Peacock during spawning

When Butterfly Peacock bass spawn, it’s straightforward to tell which one is which. The male will develop a hump “Knothead” on the forehead of tissue while he is spawning. I also have noticed that when Butterfly Peacock is spawning, their dorsal fin changes into black vs. colorful.

Should you target Spawning fish?

I know first hand that there is nothing like pulling up to your favorite canal or lake and see two drop-dead beautiful colorful peacock bass on a spawning bed. There is no doubt! You get excited to catch them but first, a few things to think about.

Those fish there lay thousands of eggs when spawning and are working night and day to fend off would-be thieves of their future fingerlings. I think it’s a good thing to inform potential anglers about this; I learned this myself from an old fisherman when I started fishing in South Florida when I was a teenager.

The way I see it is if you must catch that trophy butterfly peacock bass on a bed, please only catch one, not both fish. Why? The reason is if you catch both, there will be no one home to guard their eggs. Sure they will come back to the spawning bed, but by that time, the countless exotic fish species like the spotted tilapia in Miami have possibly cleaned out the house and ate all their future undeveloped Baby Peacock bass.

Best Lures to use for spawning peacock bass

When peacock Bass is spawning, they will hit about anything; I have caught them with a single hook in a pinch. But the lures I like using can sink down and not float up. Bucktails are great for this; additionally, The trusty lipless crankbait is dynamite, the rattle sound that lure makes drives them to be very angry. Color choice in lures when targeting Peacock Bass Spawning makes no difference based on my experience; they are there protecting their nest. Just remember, ask your self is it worth bothering that pair of fish which is 2 pounds? It’s ok to pass them up and let the fish do their thing to ensure more Peacock Bass for the future.

 

Dr.Fish Bucktail Jig Fluke Lure Saltwater Freshwater Baits Assorted Kit Bass Striper Bluefish Surf Fishing White, Chartreuse, Red,Yellow 1/2 oz, 1oz, 2 oz,4 oz,6 oz Pack of 3
  • LIFELIKE. 3D eyes and scaled holographic jig body.
  • PREMIUM MADE. Bucktail made in the USA, provides realistic glides-through and swim-along action in water, set this jig from those cheap products who hang straight down after hitting water.
  • PRODUCTIVE. It is great for jigging off the bottom fishing weakfish, fluke, and walleye. As well as for bluefish, stripers, snook and other inshore species.
  • Equipped with hooks with great durability and super sharpness.
  • Weight: 1/4oz, 1/2 oz, 1oz, 2 oz; Color&Qty.: White, Chartreuse, Red & White, one per each. Total 3.
Rat-L-Trap Lures 1/2-Ounce Trap (Firetiger Dark eye)
  • Flat-out catches fish
  • Flashing, shimmering shad-like profile
  • Super-tight wiggle
  • Calibrated to emit Liv-N-Sound
  • Tough Durashell finish
WildEye Live Goby - Sale Swimbait, 3", 1/4 oz, Natural, Floating,3 Pk
  • The WildEye Live series is the most realistic series of baits available
  • Internally weighted body creates an incredibly life-like swimming
  • The realistic color patterns and shape of the bait is backed up with 3-D holographic WildEye, holographic swimmin’ flash foil and a tough yet soft outer body
  • Rigged with a superior VMC needle point back hook

Recommend tackle

I like fishing for Florida peacock bass with a Kastking Speed demon 7ft to 7’3 Spinning rod, which is an incredible value if you’re when you buy online. The fishing reel size of choice is 3000. I normally spool it with the best 8-pound test on the market right now, the KastKing FluoroKote. I recommend using a leader of 12-16 pound test to your mainline with an Albright knot. When the structure is heavy such as downed trees in the water or a lot of debris, it’s essential. I think we know how heartbreaking it is to lose a big fish permanently.

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