Information Central (c) Larry Larsen
Live Bait Option
A few of the camps in South America offer live bait fishing for peacock bass. I should also note that some operators/outfitters have
a policy not to allow the use of live bait on their waters (from their boats). Others allow the technique but do not encourage it. Check with the agent about the option
before you go, and take along some circle hooks if you plan on trying this.
One friend that enjoys it and utilizes it particularly when
the top water bite is off wrote me a letter about his technique. "While nothing can compare to a giant peacock hitting a topwater lure, live bait, when permitted should be
added to your options," he wrote. "Seeing a giant peacock hit a matrincha or piranha is also something to behold, and
often when topwater fishing is slightly off due to high water or fishing pressure, live bait can make the difference in a successful fishing trip."
After a few years of experimenting with lines, hooks, etc., he recommends the following equipment: 1. Circle hooks,
use a size 13/0 (although different manufacturers offer a number 13/0 circle hook with a different physical size and
in some cases, a 8/0 or 9/0 might be suitable for the size of live bait being used). 2. Split rings, use #10 size. 3. Line
, use 60 pound test braid and a leader of nylon coated wire to prevent piranha cutoffs. (If using monofilament, stick
with 40 pound test). 4. Rod & Reel, use a 7 foot medium action and a heavy duty baitcasting reel. 5. Rubber
bands, use #32. and 6. Floats, use your empty drinking water bottles (some live bait guides use balloons as floats).
"The rubber band is placed about 10 feet above the leader and wrapped around the float bottle, which makes it
act like a planar board," he continued. "The small piranha or matrincha baitfish, which I call 'peacock candy', is hooked through
the back. Then, let out approximately 125 to 150 feet of line and place your rod in a rod holder or
secure it in the boat to the seat. Put the reel in free spool and reduce the drag setting. While trolling the live bait, you can use another rod to cast with."
The use of live bait is enjoyed by some anglers when they need a break
from casting. An option is having some of the guides catch bait first thing in the morning prior to the trip. He suggests you bring an ultralight
rod and some small hooks. Fishing is done by sight, and the guides will help point out the massive schools of baitfish. A small piece of fish is usually used for bait.
Another angler comments on his experience fishing with circle hooks and
the baitfish called matrinchas. "I believe that the fishing pressure on some Amazon rivers has been rather severe over the past few years and
the guides, being resourceful as they are, have had to resort to live bait
to consistently catch the double digit fish," he wrote. "Our guide was very adept at catching the baitfish, which
reminded me of the native shiner in Central Florida. We would be running down the river and all of a sudden our
guide would pull up on the bank, jump out and throw out a hand full of cooked rice, and with his hand line, he would soon have several matrinchas in the live well."
"These are very sturdy baitfish and seem to require no aeration at all. Our guide had a honey hole that he took us
to on two different occasions. It was at a place where a lagoon dumped into the main river channel and created an
eddy. You could tell it was rather deep by the darker water. The last time we were at this spot, we caught 8 double
digit fish up to 17 lbs and never moved. They would not hit the Woodchopper, but as soon as the live bait hit the water, it was gone
"One tip to remember is do not set the hook when using circle hooks," he
noted. "By setting the hook, you are defeating the hook's design and intention. The advantage in using circle hooks is that they will easily
rotate and go into the corner of the fish's mouth. The hook is 'set' by steadily increasing the load on the rod and line. I have yet to have a
peacock swallow the circle hook, so my results are 100% catch and release!"
Friend and PBA supporting member TJ Stallings of Daiichi comments: "For the same reasons that Catfish anglers
love the Circle Chunk Light; this would make a great hook for fishing large live baits for Peacocks. The bottom gap
is plenty wide to hook a bait through the back, while the gap between the point and shank would fit the lip."
"Too often anglers make their circle hook choices based on the size "number" and not the gap," he explains.
"Either the 5/0 for Peacock under 15lbs. and the 7/0 for larger fish. The light wire is perfect for 20-30 lb line
respectively. Remember what I said about the numbers? The Improved Circle Hook in the 13/0 is nearly the same
size as the aforementioned Circle Chunk Light in the 7/0."
Editor's Note: Tips reprinted with permission from PBA's "The World of Peacock Bass" monthly eZine