Forget about monster largemouth bass, and chubby catfish, there is one little-known game fish that you should be targeting. And, it goes by the name of the butterfly peacock bass. A native of the Amazon River basin, this invasive species has been discovered in the canals of southern Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and even Guam. These delectable eaters produce white and sweet filets. And, as word spreads, largemouth bass anglers are quickly switching targets to one of these little-known pounds-for-pound fighters. Here’s a list of the top fishing spots for butterfly peacock bass and the best way to reel on in for yourself.

How to Catch a Butterfly Peacock Bass

Whether it’s a largemouth, striped, or butterfly peacock bass, a bass is a bass, and they all have universal methods of being caught. When it comes to bait, this fish has a bit of an acquired taste, and anglers will instantly notice this species’ enticement for shiners over crawlers. With mixed results, when it comes to minnows and leeches. 

As for hard baits, the good ol’ largemouth bass classics like topwater lures, crankbaits, and jerk baits all work with pleasing results. But, as a whole, either fly-fishing, shore fishing, or on a boat, there is no perfect way of capturing one; either than getting your line in the water.

Where to Catch Butterfly Peacock Bass

1. Florida

city skyline near body of water during daytime

Image credits: Carlos Bastias via Unsplash

Peacock bass was first discovered in the canals of southeast Florida in the 1980s. Now they can be found in abundance throughout the southern peninsula. Places like Big Cypress Swamp, the Everglades, Hillsborough County, and Kissimmee have healthy numbers. But especially the canal systems of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. You can basically cast your line into any pond or waterway in southern Florida, and it’s likely that a butterfly peacock bass is nearby.

In October 2021, the Florida state record for a butterfly peacock bass was shattered when a 9.11-pound monster was reeled in. From head to tail, this monster measured a length of 23 inches. That’s almost two feet!

2. Hawaii

Kauai is home to 165 reservoirs and nine rivers, with many boasting healthy populations of butterfly peacock bass. An area of note for this hefty fighter is Kauaikinana Stream. But the butterfly peacock bass can be found almost anywhere where there’s fresh water, including Honolulu and Maui. Hopping onto the island of Oahu, local anglers swear by the bass fishery of the Wahiawa Reservoir.

3. Puerto Rico

Over in the US territory of Puerto Rico, peacock bass and tarpon are some of the most sought-after species by locals and visiting anglers. You see, Puerto Rico is filled with a number of lakes and lagoons that helps this species thrive. The peacock bass is as common as largemouth bass, with the butterfly variation being more of a rarity. However, this shouldn’t deter anglers who have this species hot on their radar, with many charters geared towards helping you drive up your fish counts. When it comes to hot spots, consider checking out Lago de Guajataco; a mecca for butterfly peacock bass, speckled peacock bass, and Midas cichlids.

4. The Dominican Republic

Mangrove trees

Image credits: Gabriel Genereux via Unsplash

Planning a vacation to the island of Hispaniola, but not by the Caribbean Sea? No worries, the freshwater action is just as good as the deep-sea fishing in the Dominican Republic. Like many destinations in the Caribbean Sea, butterfly peacock bass was introduced for their intriguing pound-for-pound fight. Thus, when many think of the Dominican Republic and fishing, they fail to see the Dominican’s best-kept secret; freshwater angling. 

As for trip planning, take a look at flying into Puerto Plata over Punta Cana, and hire a fishing charter in the north or interior of the island. If you’re planning for yourself, a good place to target this colorful fish is at Presa de Moncion or Presa de Bao.

5. Guam

The US territory of Guam doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, but when it comes to fishing, you can call it a holy grail. Guam is best known as a US military based, but it is also home to 160,000 residents, favorable weather, and beautiful beaches. Furthermore, freshwater and saltwater fishing is outstanding, and die-hard anglers will never get bored. 

Charters are widely available throughout the island, but consider taking up kayak fishing to target butterfly peacock bass. These fish are found just about everywhere in freshwater rivers around the island. With catches recorded at Imong River, Maagas River, Maulap River, Sadog Gago River, and Talafofo River to name a few. 

The Last Word

Believe it or not, butterfly peacock bass was once introduced in some places in the US. Texas attempted to create a butterfly peacock bass fishery in the 70s and 80s. However, this species fizzled out after 16,000 failed to take on Alcoa Lake, Coleto Creek, and Lake Bastrop. So, if you want to target this bass, you’ll have to head to Florida or consider one of the other options on this list. That being said, a fishing trip in a tropical paradise doesn’t sound all that bad.