The story behind Miami's peacock bass..
Peacock Bass are native to the Amazon River basin of South America, not Florida. They were purposely placed into South Florida by the Florida Freshwater Game and Fish Commission in 1984 in order to help control the spread of other invasive species, such as the mayan cichlid and various species of Tilapia.
Across all of America, Peacock bass are only found in South Florida. Peacock bass will die in temperatures under 62 degrees, and Miami is the only place nationally where water temperatures will stay that consistently warm. Dieoffs every few years are common, but they have never managed to wipe the species out. We have not had a cold front since 2010 and peacocks are currently thriving better than ever.
They are found through hundreds of miles of canals and lakes in Florida, but it takes a little experience finding the areas where they tend to congregate. Generally, fish of similar size will be found together. Their bright yellow spot and orange fins often lend to sightcasting these fish, which can be an absolute thrill whether targeting them through live bait, artificial lures, or on the fly.
Snakeheads in South Florida?
South Florida is famous for its variety of invasive species. Peacock bass were purposely introduced and therefore not considered as such. On the other hand, Bullseye Snakehead are an invasive species in the South Florida waterways. Very similar in looks to a bowfin, the bullseye snakehead have a undetermined effect on the Florida ecosystem. They have been here since at least 2000 and still only occupy a small territorial range, with none at all in Miami. The Bullseye snakehead have a beautiful orange ocellus (or false eye), on their tail.
Bullseye snakehead are native to Asia and fit in perfectly with the conditions we have here in Florida. They have red eyes and a beautiful torpedo shaped body. They have extremely strong jaws and it would not be wise to get a finger stuck in their mouth. The style of fishing is extremely intense with vicious topwater hits constantly occurring. I only will target these fish by throwing topwater frogs or spinner baits.
Although good to eat, I personally release most of the snakeheads I catch back where I caught them. FWC is perfectly ok with this as long as you do not relocate them to new waters. They have an established population and killing snakeheads to "save the ecosystem" will do nothing to change what is already permanent. Besides, these are a very hard fighting, agressive, and challenging sport fish that will truly test your abilities and give you explosions and strikes that you will remember forever.
Come down to South Florida and experience it for yourself!
The rarest fish in North America!
The clown knifefish, which gets its name from its tapered body, long anal fin and distinctive spots, is native to tropical Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Just like snakehead, they are another fish that is not supposed to be here. That's ok by me though, as these are one of the craziest freshwater fish on the planet to catch! These are the only fish I know of that have the ability to swim backward - and when they swim on their side, it is very different feeling in terms of fighting the fish. This fish can grow to a substantial size, reaching about 3 1/2 feet and up to 15 pounds! However, the average size is somewhere in the 2-5 pound range.
These are smart fish and will rarely take a lure or fly, and additionally are nocturnal feeders. With all that said, I usually target these fish from later afternoon onwards with live bait. These are truly rare fish and there is a very real chance that you could spend an entire day fishing for these guys without ever getting a bite. That doesn't make it slow however, as you will run into plenty of largemouth bass and peacocks in the meantime!
Unless you are planning on going to Asia, there is nowhere in the world besides South Florida where you can catch these fish in the wild. So with that said, come on down and give it a shot!