Peacock Bass in Florida

It’s 6 am and as the sun rises so too does the aggressive tarpon feeding on mullet. We had spent the last few hours casting to them but all were just out of reach. We decide that our shot at tarpon had passed and head to breakfast. It is there that we put together our plan to hit a canal that I had fished the year before. Though I hadn’t seen any, it was known for huge peacock bass. Jax had never caught a peacock so at this point even a small would check it off his bucket list.

mullet on the fly

As we pulled into the parking area we were both quite disgusted with how filthy it was. How can people have such disregard for their environment and surroundings? Garbage cans were over flowing and trash was everywhere.  It made the hair on my neck stand up. Despite all that  we get rigged up and headed for the water.  We passed a couple of young guys with fly rods who said there were no fish but we pressed on anyway.  

I was starting to think they were right, no peacocks for a while. Not even an alligator but we kept moving and casting. I worked around a tree and right close to the bank was a huge peacock on a bed. I got Jax positioned and he drops his fly right where it needs to be, bullseye.  Me, always in guide mode tried to talk him through it but I could tell he was getting irritated so I backed off and let him have at it himself. He hooked it a couple times and then the fish moved off so we moved on. 

Jax’s first peacock

Again things went dead. We’d move up the shore all the while making casts. Always keeping an eye out for a alligators and like Casper the Not So Friendly Ghost, one appeared. It was in the middle of the channel and slowly moving down river. We didn’t pay much attention to it but always had it in view.

I fished ahead of Jax as if I were welcoming wagon or the warden depending on who crossed my path. I could see a small peacock on a bed through some mangroves and just in the shadows I could see two very large peacocks . I qiuckly waved Jax over, showed him the fish and left him to work his magic. I only got 30 feet away when I hear “fish on” followed by the sound of line screaming off the real and the fish exploding out of the water. Now here lies he problem, where do we land this fish?  There was no good place to land it easily and I wasn’t getting into the water with the alligator close by. We agreed on a small spot between two mangroves. Luckly he had 20lb striper leader on.  Jax wrangled the fish for a few minutes, putting the pressure on. He got the fish to shore and I cautiously grab the fish and passed it to Jax. After a few pictures, we released the fish right back on the bed and worked our way back out.

I made one last attempt at the first big peacock we saw. I make a cast, land it near the bed and very aggressively the big bass smashes my fly. Just one problem, I only had a smallmouth leader on when I set the hook.  The fish took off, snapping the line like a twig. I blew that. Man was I bummed.

 As we made our way back, we could see that same alligator from earlier out in the middle of the channel. I clapped my hands hoping to get it’s attention. Well I got it’s attention so much so it lifted it’s head up and started swimming right towards us. Jax took off running and yelled at me. I was startled enough to start jogging away myself. Needless to say we didn’t hang around at that point. 

Jax not only landed his first peacock, he landed a trophy! That kid has a horse shoe up his butt or something. Maybe he ate his Lucky Charms. Last year he landed a 40” musky on his first outing. I really enjoy fishing with him, he can really fish.

This was a jam packed day. Both tarpon and peacocks in the morning and then we were off to Nautilus Reel Company in Miami. Time to see how they are made!