PRIME STRUCTURE FOR LOCATING PEACOCK BASS
Learning the Lairs of the Peacock Bass
Sensational Sand Bars
Sand bars are one of the prime structures to fish for peacock bass. Keep in mind that sandbars are dynamic structures, as they constantly change their shape and are created and formed by flowing rivers and are revealed during falling or low water conditions. Trophy-sized peacock bass will often pursue baitfish onto the sandbars from deeper water. Sandbars are not neatly formed beaches with uniform depths. Closer inspection reveals irregular features such as drop-offs, finger points and deeper holes, where giant peacock bass hold. Some of the largest fish caught in Braziil's Amazon watershed have come on large prop baits on the sandbars, both on top of the finger points of the sandbars and the depressions between the finger points. Do not hesitate to use subsurface lures as well. The most productive sand bars, although they may be shallow themselves, have relatively close access to deep water.
Flooded bushes, timber stands and fallen trees provide a prime haven for baitfish as well as peacock bass. Peacock bass often seek the sanctuary of shade provided by trees and bushes and may use these as ambush areas to attack smaller fish. When fishing timber stands, make accurate casts within the open lanes between the trees for optimal success. The deeper you get your lure or fly within the gaps between trees, the more success you will usually experience. Try to almost glance the trees with your lure or fly and make sure you work them all the way back the boat as, in many instances, you will entice a fish to follow the bait from the trees out towards deeper water where your boat is positioned. When fishing close to standing trees, you can use a variety of lures, ranging from surface baits, to swim jigs, Banjo Minnows or spinnerbaits. The fish will, eventually, reveal which lure they prefer.
Points consist of both visible (above the water) or submerged (shallow or deepwater) extensions of land, rocks, sand or gravel. The best points are situated with deep water relatively close to them. In the Amazon deep water is a relative term, as it may mean six feet or might mean a drop to 25 feet. Deep, in this case, means a significant change from the shallow water near the point or the drop-off on the sides of the point. Peacock bass tend to hold on the deep-water drop-offs of points. From these deeper water edges, they can either move shallow (up onto the point) to attack schools of baitfish, or they may migrate to deeper water in the presence of changing weather condition or danger. Points with cover (rocks, brush, stumps, etc. and /or standing timber), as depicted in the image at left, will usually out-produce those that are baron or featureless in nature.
Peacock bass rather intensely guard their fry until they are mature enough to fend for themselves. Your guide may suddenly beam with excitement as he points out rippling, or what he may refer to as “bubbles” or “bambinos” on the surface of a quiet lagoon. This rippling is actually a pod of fry, typically with the protective parents below ready to pounce on anything that threatens them. The size of the fry ball is generally a good indicator of the size of the parents below. Approach the fry pod very quietly, not stumbling around in the boat, dropping soft drink cans or talking loudly. After a stealthy approach to the fry, the next key to success is a well placed cast slightly beyond the fry ball. Rip the propeller bait, walk the Spook style bait or retrieve the jig or jerkbait through the fry ball and be ready for a vicious strike. The other partner in the boat should immediately follow the first strike up with a topwater bait, jerk bait, Banjo Minnow or swimming jig.
Lagoons can be found in a variety of sizes, depths and topographies. They are typically formed during the rainy season, when swollen creeks inundate surrounding land with deeper topography, thus creating lakes and pools. If a lagoon is completely landlocked, the fish will have to remain there until the waters rise during the next rainy season. Once in the lagoon, one should not only fish the obvious visible cover along the shoreline, but also less obvious mid-lagoon structure, such as sandbars and points. Also, be observant for subtle signs in the open water, such as fry balls, baitfish movement, wakes or boils and be ready to make a quick, accurate cast. Make sure you thoroughly fish the lagoon with an assortment of lures, from top to bottom. Some days, the fish will slam topwater lures, while other days, and perhaps changing weather or water conditions, find them with lockjaw for a topwater plug, but very aggressively pursuing jigs, Banjo Minnows or jerkbaits. Don’t hesitate to experiment.
Pockets carved into the bank of the main river, or perhaps located in a lagoon, are prime lairs for peacock bass. Try to get your lure or fly as deep into the pocket as possible. This is where your casting skills will really come into play. In most cases, you’ll use a topwater lure or Banjo minnow to probe the pockets as the water will be really shallow. However, a skilled angler can work a jig or jerkbait in these pockets as well. You’ll need to keep the rod tip high and work a sinking or diving lure quickly until it reaches deeper water, at which time you can lower the rod tip and work it as you normally would all the way back to the boat. Don’t hesitate to make multiple casts into the pocket to entice a fish into striking. In the image at left, note the pocket indicated by the arrow. You need to get the lure as close the pocket bank as possible for best results. In many cases, a fish might follow the lure and strike it as the lure gets closer to the boat.