The Butterfly Peacock Bass
Not a Bass?
The Butterfly Peacock Bass (Cichla ocellaris) is not a bass at all and neither are any of the peacock bass. The name came about in the 1950s from Florida.
When Florida lakes and rivers were being stocked with the fish during the 1950s, the names bass was chosen because it was felt that Americans would not be interested in a fish with the name pavon.
The butterfly peacock bass has a body shape that is similar to a largemouth bass hence the name Peacock Bass even though they aren't related to each other. While the Butterfly Peacock Bass is similar to the largemouth in some ways, it differs in some many others such as the ability to spawn throughout the year; seeking out the sun rather than hiding from it; and it is far more vividly coloured that any of the North American bass.
The Butterfly variety is native to the South American Amazon river basin, in jungle rain forests, rivers and reservoirs. Due to it's reputation as a great fighting fish and its huge size, it has been introduced to Hawaii, British Guyana, Florida, Puerto Rico, Panama, Guam and the Dominican Republic.
They have been further introduced to more states as their popularity grew even more. They have been transplanted to several other states including Texas and Montana. They are a great fighting fish and are also renowned for their table fare.
All in a Name
The Butterfly Peacock Bass is also known as the butteryfly pavon, pavon mariposa, pavon amarillo, pavon tres estrellas, marichapa in Spanish and tucunare in Portuguese. It is the most colourful and plentiful member of the peacock bass family being distinguished from other pavon subspecies by three black circular blotches along each side of the body.
Butterfly peacocks typically average two to four pounds although the record Butterfly Peacock Bass ever caught weighed in Florida was 12 pounds/5.4 kilograms and the world record being 12.6 pounds/5.7 kilograms from Venezuela.
While the average Butterfly Peacock Bass weighs in the two to three pound range, they can get up to 12 pounds and are a viscous fighting fish so make sure your gear can handle the stresses. In no way should ultra-light or light tackle be used to catch this fish. Anglers should also set their drag appropriately to make sure that a lunker does not snap the line when it strikes.
This might seem small compared to the size of the Florida Largemouth Bass and it is. But the Peacock is something to behold as it is rather exotic in appearance - appearing more tropical that is normally found in North American Waters. But do not let its smaller size put you off. Experience the fight for the first time and you will be hooked.