What technique do I use to catch peacock bass? Like largemouth bass, peacock bass often prefer “structure” of some sort. Rocks, fallen logs, points and sand bars are hiding places for baitfish, so this is where the peacocks will usually be lurking. Of course, you should always heed the guide’s recommendations on where to cast. Peacock bass usually roam about in small schools searching for baitfish, often bursting into a feeding frenzy. When this situation is encountered, get your fly in front of the feeding fish as soon as possible. The sooner you can cast to them after they’ve been spotted, the better your chance of a hookup. Peacock bass are greedy and highly competitive schooling fish. Always cast a different popper or fly right next to any hooked fish. Another peacock will almost always be close by (attracted by the commotion). If no strikes result, fish the surrounding area thoroughly. Novice peacock bass anglers tend to set the hook too fast when fishing poppers or flies. Often peacocks will just slap at the fly to stun it, then come back around and firmly grab it on the second pass. It’s hard to remember at first, but don’t set the hook on the strike. If you can’t see the popper or fly after about one second, drop your rod tip and set the hook as hard as you can with your strip hand. Big peacock bass have very tough skin around their mouths and tend to grip the fly firmly. If the fish doesn’t take the fly on the first strike, keep it moving. If you are patient, the fish will usually come up and hit the fly a second or third time. If he loses interest, quickly change flies. This often elicits another strike. Never try and “horse” a big peacock bass, and don’t underestimate his power. If a big fish is headed for structure, apply side pressure to the rod trying to ‘steer’ the fish in another direction. If you crank your drag down too tight, they’ll almost always snap the leader, or pull off. If a fish does make it into cover, don’t give up. Give a little slack and wait for the boat to spook the fish out of its hiding place-they’ll often untangle themselves. When a fish comes to the boat, never assume it’s ready to give up. Always keep a high rod tip and a loose drag to absorb last minute runs. Fly color doesn’t seem as important as fly shade. If it is bright out, use a light-colored fly. Dark-colored flies are more productive in low light conditions.
Extracted from outfitter, Jay W. Smith,
Rod & Gun: