Accessing Florida's Butterfly Peacock Bass and other fisheries
Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties:
The man-made canals of coastal southeast Florida are part of an extensive, interconnecting network of canals that were primarily constructed in the early 1900's for drainage, flood protection, and water storage purposes. The freshwater canals in the southern section (Cypress Creek Canal and south) are mostly box-cut into a coral rock substrate, more than 10 feet deep with little littoral zone, and have much subsurface water flowing into them. The amount of groundwater flowing into some canals is sufficient enough to dramatically increase water clarity. Canals in the northern section (Hillsboro Canal and north) tend to be shallower, more bowl-shaped, have sugar-sand substrate, and little water groundwater intrusion. Fortunately, many of these man-made canals offer boat or shoreline access; a Canal Overview Map of the major canals is available. A series of Angler's Guides for the canals listed below provide boat ramp locations, directions, and fishing information for each site:
Local Fishing Guides include:
- Burke, John: 954-971-1915
- Fettes, Clark: 954-426-2094
- Harris, Doub: 954-435-0486
- Norling, Gregg: 954-979-4933
- Zaremba, Allen: 954-961-7512
Local Bait and Tackle Shops include:
- Perk's Bait & Tackle: 561-582-3133
- X Generation Custom Rods + Tackle: 561-296-7637
- Boynton Fisherman Supply: 561-736-0568
- Sandy Hook Bait & Tackle: 561-274-9300
- Everglades Pro-Bass Center: 954-434-4495
- Lloyd's Bait and Tackle: 954-401-5681
- Kendall Bait & Tackle Inc.: 305-670-3474
- The Fishing Line: 305-598-2444
- Marine Taxidermy of the Palm Beaches: 561-585-0830
- Steve's Marine Designs: 954-752-4360
- Don Winge: 941-353-9359
Butterfly peacock can often be found schooling in the fall and this should be a great time for some morning topwater bites. Anglers should watch for butterfly peacock breaking the surface then throw a Husky Jerk Bait, Heddon Torpedo, or small (3”) floating, gold or silver Rapala for some fast action. In the afternoon or if you lose the school, try switching to subsurface lures such as Rapalas, Rat’l Traps, and Pro Traps for continued success. If a cold front comes through, troll floating and suspending lures around bridges and structure to locate active schools then cast back into the school.
Largemouth bass fishing should improve as the water temperature cools off and they can also be found schooling in the morning. The same lures will catch butterfly peacock and largemouth bass and if anglers see some surface action, they should cast close to the school. If a largemouth doesn’t hit, then reel in quickly with some good rod action and a butterfly peacock may! Soft plastics like Bass Assassin, Flappin Shad, or Flukes in watermelon or salt and pepper are all effective largemouth bass baits this time of year. Live shiners are a top choice for butterfly peacock and largemouth bass no matter what time of year, especially for inexperienced anglers.
Wigglers or pieces of nightcrawler fished under a bobber are an excellent way to catch bluegill, redear sunfish, Mayan cichlid, and oscar in urban Miami-Dade canals. Small Rapalas, Roostertails, and Beetlespins are also effective lures for bream fishing. Anglers may want to try Tamiami (C-4), Snapper Creek (C-2), and Parkline (L-31W) canals for some great fall angling opportunities.
Anglers fishing for butterfly peacock should consider using minnow-imitating lures like Rapalas, Rebels and Torpedoes as well as green and yellow Roostertails late in the morning through the afternoon for some fast action. Live shiners are a very effective bait for largemouth bass and butterfly peacock no matter what time of day. Cool temps can slow the bite but consider trolling floating and suspending baits around structure and bridges to locate active fish then cast back into them. Butterfly peacock are plentiful in the southern Broward canals but they are just now showing up in Cypress Creek Canal (C-14). If we have a couple more mild winters, their numbers should continue to rise.
Cooling temperatures should improve the largemouth bass bite and make it a more pleasant time to fish. Rapalas in gold/black or silver/black fished early in the morning are a good bet for some fast action. If the bite slows down or you start fishing later in the day, you may want to try 8”-10” rubber worms in black or red shad, 4”-6” lizards in watermelon seed or cotton candy, or watermelon seed colored Flukes.
Many Broward waterways contain good bream populations and wigglers or crickets fished under a bobber is a great way to introduce kids to catching bluegill and redear sunfish as well as the non-native Mayan cichlid. Black, chartreuse, and white Beetle Spins and crappie jigs are also effective lures for bream and small bass. Cypress Creek Canal (C-14), Hillsboro (G-08) and the North New River Canal (G-15) are just a few of the great places available to anglers to wet a line.
Palm Beach County:
Largemouth bass action should improve as water temperatures cool. The bass will school up and anglers should be prepared to cast a minnow-imitating lure like a Rapala or Heddon Torpedo into the commotion for some fast action. There is a good but underutilized population of sunshine bass up in the Ida-Osborne chain-of-lakes and if we get some cool weather, the bite should heat up! Trolling a shad or shiner will help you locate the school, then carefully set out an anchor and use cut bait or live shad. Another method is to tie on a crappie jig, tip it with shrimp and drift with the wind until you find the school. Speck (black crappie) fishing should also heat up with the change in the seasons and Missouri minnows or 1/16 or 1/32 oz Beetle Spins in black and yellow or white and yellow, or white or chartreuse crappie jigs are effective baits. Look for specks in deep holes in local lakes and around fish attractors in the Ida-Osborne chain-of lakes. Native and exotic bream (particularly Mayan cichlid) can be caught on a variety of baits and as well as flies. Fly rod enthusiasts should do well using a popper and wiggler worms or night crawlers fished under a bobber with a long shank, fine wire hook is a tried and true method of traditional anglers. The butterfly peacock fishing has been heating up in the Ida-Osborne chain-of-lakes over the summer and the good catches should continue. Minnow imitating lures and live shiners are effective butterfly peacock baits. There have also been more reports coming in of catches of clown knifefish in the Delray Canal (C-15) and Ida-Osborne chain of lakes and many have been observed in the West Palm Beach Canal (C-51). Free-lining live shad or shiners is a top technique but some are also caught on topwater lures like Rapalas and Rebels. There are many waterbodies available to anglers for some fun fall action including the Boynton (C-16), West Palm Beach (C-51), Earman River (C-17), Loxahatchee Slough (C-18) and the extensive Ida-Osborne lake system.