Acute Angling Amazon Peacock Bass Fishing Trips
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Gamefish of the Amazon Basin

Amazon Gamefish Encyclopedia: A compendium of scientific and angling information for the fisherman - to help you better understand your quarry.

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Other Peacock Bass Species

Although Cichla temensis is the ultimate goal of peacock anglers, several other species provide excellent sport throughout almost all Amazon regions where the giants are found.

A common, Amazonian species, Cichla monoculus, may be the most numerous and widespread species in the Amazon basin. Called "sarabiana” or “papoca”" in Brazil, it exhibits three black triangular-shaped markings along the back, coinciding with the position of the black bars of C. temensis, along with the addition of a distinct bar-like pattern above the belly. In spawning condition, monoculus has a brilliantly colored red belly. In the central Amazon, this fish it not commonly encountered over 4-pounds..

Another commonly encountered Amazon species is the 'borboleto' (Cichla orinocensis) This species has three black ocelli, or spots (about the size of a half dollar, depending on the size of the fish) running along its lateral line, in addition to the ever-present tail spot. Some may display less distinct body markings, a reddish reticulated background pattern or more muted colors. The absence of the black eye patches clearly distinguishes C. orinocensis from its larger cousin, C. temensis. Typical size for Cichla orinocensis is 2 to 3 pounds but they can get much larger. We sometimes encounter individuals up to 12 - pounds.

One of the biggest sources of confusion in peacock bass nomenclature (for anglers) is Cichla ocellaris. Although not found in the Amazon lowlands, C. ocellaris has gained notoriety due to its greater tolerance of cold water, hence an ability to be transplanted into new homes. Transplanted into Florida over twenty years ago, ocellaris is commonly called the "butterfly peacock" in English. Unfortunately (for naming purposes), when anglers arrive in Brazil for their long-awaited peacock bass trip, they are promptly introduced to Cichla orinocensis, locally called "Borboleto", which means butterfly (the insect) in Portuguese, the language of Brazil. The two species are promptly, inextricably confused.

The genus Cichla has 15 currently recognized species. See our peacock bass ID guide for more information.

Species of Amazon Peacock Bass

Specimens from various Amazon fisheries

Cichla orinocensis:
peacock bass - borboleto
A southern Amazon specimen.
peacock bass
A northern, black-water fish.
peacock bass
An unusually marked specimen from the clear, black water Rio Xeriuini.
Cichla monoculus:
Cichla monoculus
A small central Amazon specimen
peacock bass - papoca
A brilliantly colored spawning male
Cichla ocellaris
Cichla ocellaris
peacock bass

Fly casters take peacocks on a variety of oversized streamer, popper and slider patterns (tied on 5/0 or 6/0 extremely stout wide-gap hooks) which match a multitude of large baitfish. For larger fish, streamers, with a big profile are most often productive. A stiff 8 to 10-weight rod will easily cast the 200-300 grain sinking lines most commonly used (depending upon fishing conditions) to present these flies. An 8-weight is perfect for lighter sinking or floating lines. In tight structure, heavy leaders (such as an 8-foot section of 35-pound monofilament) are essential to keep from breaking big fish off.

For more information: Pre-Trip Info

Conventional tackle for peacocks should be selected according to the type of lure to be used. Peacocks are usually fished using rods and reels similar to those for trophy largemouth bass. A selection of three rigs is generally adequate for most fishing conditions and the four most commonly used classes of baits.

The most popular lures for peacock bass fishermen are undoubtedly the big propeller baits. Available models include the 6-1/2-inch Highroller's Monster RipRoller. When casting these large, almost 2-ounce, topwater plugs, a medium-heavy rod is recommended. It's also very important to have a fast retrieve reel (7.0:1) strung with 65 pound braid.

Other very effective surface lures include the "walking stick" type baits, such as Excalibur's Super Spook. These lures are effectively used with a medium rod and a reel to match. This can be strung with 50 pound braid and don't require quite as fast a retrieve. The same rig can also be used for the very effective swimming plug type baits, such as Yo-zuri's Crystal Minnow or Cordell's Red Fin.

Most important is a lighter rig to cast the amazingly effective Sidewinder's peacock rattle jigs. A medium-light spinner with a reel to match (2500 size with 30 pound braid) is perfect for the job. This rig is extremely productive, accounting for greater numbers of peacock bass per time in use than any other method.

Trophy peacock fishing requires strong hooks, split rings and lines to handle these incredibly powerful fish. Most veterans use 30-65 lb. braided line. Anything lighter is easily broken by big peacocks in heavy structure (their favorite haunts).

For more information: Peacock Primer II

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