The popularity of chasing Peacock Bass is skyrocketing in the Florida freshwater systems as word gets out about the aggressiveness and beauty of these fish. One of the first and most critical steps to going after these fish is to understand their food preferences. Knowing this, you can come prepared with the best peacock bass lures to the water.
So, what do peacock bass eat anyway?
In this post, we are going to take a closer look at what is normally on their dinner plate. We also want to talk about what they don’t like to eat so that we don’t spend time with the wrong fishing lures. Once we understand this, we as fisherman will be in a better position to catch these beautiful fish.
What Do Peacock Bass Eat? – The Typical Dinner Plate For Peacock Bass
Peacock bass are found only in Florida within the continental US and are native to South American waters. While an adventure to the Amazon would be incredible, it’s going to be easier to book a trip down to Florida. Because of this, we are going to focus on Peacock Bass prey found in the Sunshine state.
Baitfish. By far, the prime food of these fish is other fish. Particularly, small baitfish that hatch in the thousands at a time. They will also key in on smaller panfish and their fry. Having live bait or an assortment of soft plastics, spinners, crankbaits, and buzzbaits in color schemes that mimic the below species is the best method for hooking up on Peacock Bass.
Golden Shiner. Golden Shiners tend to be the go-to baitfish when it comes to Peacock Bass. This species of fish is very prevalent in the Florida freshwater system, and they are there in abundance. There are numerous artificial lures that can represent shiners from spinners to crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater plugs. A lot of anglers also like to chase after Peacocks with live shiners, and it tends to be one of the more efficient means of landing these fish.
General Baitfish. We don’t think bass get too picky when it comes to preying on baitfish. While Golden Shiners tend to be their preference, these bass will feed on any small baitfish. Any shad or minnow lure can catch Peacocks, and you also have the option of using live bait.
Bluegill. While bluegill or other panfish fry can fall into the category of general baitfish, the larger ones will even go after juvenile to even adult bluegill. Mimicking bluegill colors on larger lures is a chance to land a trophy Peacock Bass.
Young Peacocks. Yep, these adult bass will feed on young fry if times get tough. Your general soft plastics and other swimbaits in olive, orange, and black coloring will imitate young fry well. You would generally go with other baitfish colorings because it is much more rare for them to consume their own. It is still an option that you should keep in mind.
Insects: While not the preferred meal for a peacock bass, they will feed on insects, particularly crickets and grasshoppers or winged insects that get trapped in the surface film. Live bait is your best bet for trying to land a Peacock Bass with insects though there are some great insect patterns that can be tied up or bought and used with a fly rod.
Crayfish: Crayfish and other crustaceans are part of the Peacock Bass diet. They are high sources of protein and occur in just about any body of water that these bass inhabit. You can swim a soft plastic crayfish, or you can jig it along the lake bed to entice these fish. There are also a lot of crankbaits available that are used to imitate crayfish. A crayfish is a great option through just about any time of the year.
Amphibians: There is no doubt about it that this species of bass are aggressive predators. For that reason, a frog moving across topwater action with heavy vegetation will attract this fish’s attention. Besides the adult frog, peacock bass will also key in on tadpoles as an easy meal. There are a myriad of topwater lures that imitate adult frogs as well as plastic jigs to imitate tadpoles.
Lizards: Lizards are another food source for these beautiful fish. Though not the highest on their food preference, these bass will go after lizards aggressively when used during their spawning season. Certain lizard species will dive underwater to take bass eggs from the nest. Using a soft plastic lizard with any number of rigging styles and used in shallower nesting areas is a killer tactic for these bass.
What Peacock Bass Don’t like To Eat
While understanding what peacock bass eat is critical for fishing for them, having an understanding of what they don’t like is equally important and will save you a lot of frustration on the water. For whatever reason, Peacocks do not seem to care for worms or imitations of them.
If you have live worm or a soft plastic imitation, you might get lucky and snag one, but it is more than likely you’re going to hook up on a largemouth or other species of fish that inhabits the same water. You’re much better off throwing live bait of what we discussed above or imitations of them.
In a lot of aspects, Peacocks key in on the same food sources that other bass do. These fish are highly aggressive predators but having a good understanding of what they feed on in their habitat is going to prepare you for what you need to bring to the water.
And hopefully, this knowledge is going to have you hooking and landing these beautiful game fish.
Now it is your turn…What do peacock bass eat? Please share with us your experience in the section below.