Pescamazon - Destinations
Negro River - Peacock Bass

The Fishing

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 information. 

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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 a pattern. 

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. 

Timber: 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 parental duties.