Pescamazon - Destinations
Negro River - Peacock Bass
This particular section on tactics was written
primarily for the first time peacock bass angler. Veteran peacock bass
anglers, however, should review this information as well, as Amazon
Fishing! strives to reveal new methods, techniques and tactics that are
gleaned on just about every fishing excursion to South America. Even the
most seasoned peacock bass angler will learn something from the following
NATURE OF THE BEAST
Peacock bass are highly aggressive, with males being especially
territorial. Large “machos” can usually be triggered into striking when
they see other peacocks feeding on baitfish or another fish frantically
trying to shake off a lure.
A key to catching trophy peacock bass is to be alert for the actively
feeding fish attacking bait near the surface. Be prepared to respond
quickly with accurate casts. If you lure reaches the scene of the melee in
time, you’ll likely be rewarded with an instant strike.
Peacock bass angling can be arduous, as you must cast large lures or flies,
long distances for hours on end. In some instances, you’ll need to cast to
a point, island, rockpile or other likely looking target many times to
trigger a strike. You must be alert at all times, reading the water and
assessing the conditions before you. The bottom line, however, is quite
simple - the more well-placed casts and retrieves you can make in a day,
the more you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
Peacock bass angling is an extremely arduous task, as anglers must be
prepared to accurately cast large baits, long distances for hours on end.
In some instances you might need to cast to a point or other likely
looking target several times to get a fish to strike. You must be alert at
all times, reading the water and assessing the conditions before you. The
bottom line, however, is quite basic - the more casts you can make in a
day, the more you'll be rewarded for your efforts.
THINK FAST FOR DOUBLE HOOKUPS
When your partner gets a strike or hooks a fish, the natural tendency is
to stand back and enjoy the battle as a spectator. But having the presence
of mind to quickly cast into the same vicinity (without hindering your
partner’s chances of landing his fish), could earn you another peacock,
possibly even bigger than the first. When your partner’s fish is brought
near boat-side, you might see will two or three other fish swimming
alongside the hooked one. A short cast with a jerkbait or jig might catch
you one of these aroused fish.
WITH YOUR BAIT - DON'T HESITATE
When a peacock blows up on your surface bait, don’t hesitate or halt the
retrieve, but keep working the bait across the surface. This can be a
difficult lesson for first-time peacock anglers, who often are so startled
by topwater fury that they simply gawk at the plug floating haplessly on
the water. Or, they set the hook so hard that it comes flying back to the
boat. A “hot” peacock, triggered into frenzy, is more apt to assault the
lure a second or third time if you maintain a rapid, fleeing-type retrieve.
If a fish repeatedly strikes but misses on top, grab another rod rigged
with a jerkbait or bucktail jig and cast to the last place you saw the
fish. Don’t give up too easily on a “hot” fish; work the area at least
five minutes with a variety of baits before moving on.
FIGURE OF EIGHT FOR AGGRESIVE PEACOCKS
In some instances, you’ll be stunned to see a peacock bass following your
lure right to the boat. If the fish fails to take the bait, quickly thrust
about two feet of the rod tip into the water, with about 12 -18 inches of
line, and execute a figure eight maneuver in the same way anglers attempt
to entice aggressive muskies. An aroused peacock bass is looking to attack
anything that appears as a tasty morsel and may readily attack your lure
-- even inches from the boat. This is more apt to happen where there are
lots of competing fish. If the fish does not succumb to the figure eight,
try working a jerkbait or jig near the boat to get the strike.
FISH AS A TEAM
Paired anglers should work in harmony and not against each other. While
working a typical Amazon river or lagoon bank, the angler in the front of
the boat should cast his lure ahead of the boat at likely looking cover.
The partner in back also casts forward, but not over the line of the lead
angler. To work properly as a team, the lead angler should cast to one
part of potential fish-holding cover, allowing his partner enough of a
target to cast to that cover. Unless the fish are really slamming a
specific lure, partners should fish different baits.
LET THE FISH DICTATE WHAT THEY WANT
Some anglers stubbornly stick with a favorite bait, even after going hours
without a strike. They’ve had past success with a lure and, by golly, they’re
going to stay with it until they get a fish, even though conditions may be
totally different from their last trip.
Savvy peacock anglers are not afraid to experiment, and will let the mood
of the fish dictate their lure selection. Historically, the largest
peacocks have come on big topwater plugs, so, start saturating the water
with a these. If you generate surface strikes, but the fish fail to take
the bait, try switching to a smaller propeller plug or different topwater
lure, such as a popper or walking “spook” bait.
Sometimes, peacocks just won’t strike on top and you’ll need to go to a
subsurface approach. If repeated casts to a promising area fails to get a
topwater strike, switch to a jerk bait, such as the Peacock Minnow,
Crystal Minnow or Red Fin.
RUN AND GUN
Because the Amazon basin is so immense, there’s lots of water for peacock
bass habitat, even during the dry season. The more productive water you
effectively cover, the better your chances of success. The “run-and-gun”
technique works well for eliminating unproductive water. Rather than
patiently making many casts in one location, you encourage your guide to
take you to several - what you and he believe are - high percentage spots,
making just a few well-placed casts in hopes that aggressive fish will
show themselves early.
Basically the opposite of the “run and gun,” this method espouses repeated
(up to 50) casts to the same spot. The idea is that the repeated casts and
subsequent topwater commotion will either “call” hungry fish from far away,
or sufficiently irritate a big fish until he strikes the bait. While
perhaps too painstakingly monotonous for many anglers, this method is
favored by several top Amazon guides, and has proved effective for
producing very large fish.
This technique was made famous by peacock pioneer T.O. McClean, who has
probably landed more 20-pound peacocks than any other angler. It involves
slow-trolling a beefed-up big propeller along the bank and through deeper
lagoons in search of giant peacocks. Drag the bait about 25-40 yards
behind the boat, ripping the bait forward every few seconds.
Lagoons: As the rainy season ends and the dry season ensues in the Amazon
basin, waters recede back into the main river or simply dry up. Deeper
terrain traps pools of water referred to as lagoons. Ranging in size from
small pools to immense lakes, these lagoons can trap hundreds or thousands
of fish, as their access to the main river or large creek has been cut off.
Accessibility of anglers to lagoons can vary drastically. Some lagoons are
very obvious and located just off the main river channel. Others may
require your guide to machete his way through foliage and fallen trees as
he snakes the boat within a narrow creek to toward a hidden honeyhole.
Still others may only be reached by hiking into the jungle and fishing
from shore or from a boat that has been planted in the lagoon beforehand.
Fish both visible shoreline cover as well as the middle of the lagoons. If
you’ve thoroughly fished a lagoon for 45 minutes and have not had a strike
or have not observed baitfish schools or any surface or feeding activity,
it’s time to search for another productive one or eliminate the lagoon as
Rockin’ for Peacocks: Whether in a river or lake, rocks of all sizes
concentrate peacock bass. Boulders seem to attract more fish than
fist-size rocks or sheer rock cliffs. Rocks possess tremendous surface
area, harboring many baitfish and are quite attractive to peacock bass.
Rocks will hold both butterfly and royal peacock bass in good numbers.
When approaching rock structure, first cast a topwater plug to tempt a
large territorial peacock. If you’ve had no takers in a dozen casts,
switch to a jerkbait and fan cast the area. If fishing in current, try
casting a white ½-ounce bucktail jig to the eddy pockets, which make
perfect ambush sites for peacocks. Spinning gear usually works best for
jigs, as it allows for rapid vertical presentation. Sharply hop the jigs
in the eddy for fast and furious action.
Sandbars: These ever-changing structures formed by river currents are
revealed during low water conditions. Trophy-size peacock bass often use
sandbars to herd bait, and these are great spots to observe feeding
frenzies. In most cases, sandbars are not neatly formed beaches with
consistent depths. Closer inspection reveals irregular features such as
dropoffs, finger points and deeper holes, where giant peacocks lurk. When
approaching sandbars, start off with a large topwater bait and then switch
to a subsurface approach.
Points: Visible or submerged extensions of land, rocks, sand or gravel are
prime structures to hold peacock bass. Peacocks seek the deep-water
drop-offs of points as a typical holding area. From these drop-offs, they
can either move shallow to attack schooling baitfish, or migrate to deeper
water in the presence of changing weather condition or danger. When
fishing a lake, always target points throughout the day to determine if
the peacock bass are relating to these structures. Sometimes they prefer
long, sloping points that gently taper into deep water. Other times, they
may prefer short, deeper points. Intially, crisscross the point with
topwater lures, switching to a subsurface approach if topwater fails. Key
in on isolated forms of cover, such as rocks, fallen trees, stumps or
brush. On a river, cast your lure upstream and then retrieve it across the
point with the current. Remember to fish the calm water on the
down-current side of points, as well as the points themselves. Prime
points on a river can be found at lagoon mouths, sandbars, rocky shoals
and pockets off the main river channel.
Flooded or fallen timber provides a prime haven for baitfish and peacock
bass. Although not as sun-shy as largemouth bass, peacocks do often seek
the sanctuary of tree shade. Casting within the narrow open lanes within
plots of standing timber requires very accurate casting. The deeper you
get your lure within the gaps between trees, the more success you will
typically experience. A really prime pattern is to locate trees in a
lagoon that are situated from three to 10 feet off the bank and in two to
six feet of water. Cast to the bank and then work the lures past the trees,
making an attempt to retrieve them as close as possible to the trees.
Tiny Bubbles: One almost surefire pattern exists when large peacock bass
are guarding small fry. Your guide may point out dimpling, or what he may
refer to as “bubbles” or “bambinos” on the surface of a quiet lagoon.
These are actually a school of fry, with the adults below herding and
protecting them. The fry scurry into the parents’ mouths when danger is
present. The size of the school is a good indicator of the size of the
fish below. Cast a topwater lure about five feet beyond the fry dimples
and then work the bait right through them. Brace yourself for a violent
strike! Please take care in releasing the fish so it can go back to its