January and February are the peak spawning months for largemouth bass in south Florida, and now is the best opportunity for anglers to catch big bass. Butterfly peacock fishing continues to be excellent in Miami-Dade County canals except for temporary slowdowns associated with cold fronts. We strongly encourage anglers to practice catch and release of sportfish at all times but especially for largemouth bass during this season.
Small, minnow imitating lures by Rapala, Matzuo, Yo Zuri, and Rebel are good baits for largemouth bass in Miami-Dade waters. Weedless Texas rigged plastic worms in colors including pumpkinseed and watermelon are also an effective tactic for Florida’s most popular sportfish. Live shiners are very effective bait for butterfly peacock and largemouth bass, and are also the bait of choice for snook and tarpon in urban canals.
Small, minnow imitating lures used for bass are also good choices for anglers targeting butterfly peacock, south Florida’s premier sportfish. The fire tiger and chartreuse color patterns are a dependable color whatever your choice of lure. One tactic for catching butterfly peacock during these cooler months is to troll at a fast pace (5-8 mph) to cover a lot of water and when you locate a school, stop and cast into it. Bridges often hold butterfly peacock during the winter months so don’t overlook them! As the water temperature rises in March, the butterfly peacock will begin to spawn. This is an excellent time to sight fish for large fish in shallow water. Tossing just about any kind of lure or jig onto a guarded nest will trigger a response. You just have to keep trying until the fish actually takes the bait. The Fish and Wildlife Commission strongly encourages the catch and release of butterfly peacock to ensure the continued success of this very popular sportfish.
Bluegill, redear sunfish, Mayan cichlid, and Oscars can be caught using wigglers, crickets, a piece of night crawler, or a bread ball fished under a bobber, or with only a sinker 3 feet above the hook. Small poppers, and beetle spins are also popular baits. Aerojet Canal and Parkline Canal are good angling destinations for this time of year.
Largemouth bass anglers are encouraged to try minnow imitating lures made by Rapala and Rebel in color patterns like black/gold, or silver/black for some fast action. Bream anglers should have great fun catching them on light spinning gear. A long shank hook baited with a wiggler, red worm, piece of a night crawler, or cricket often results in some fast bream action. Good catches of bream can also be made using 1/32-1/16 oz crappie jigs with single or multiple tails, small beetlespins, or Roostertails. These types of lures in white, green, and patterns with chartreuse are great bream bait colors. The Griffin Road and Cypress Creek canals, or local parks such as Plantation Heritage, Markham, Brian Piccolo, Tradewinds, and Quiet Waters are good areas to try for bass, and bream.
Fishing for butterfly peacock in south Broward waterbodies should be good except for a day or two after cold fronts pass through. Small, live shiners are always a top butterfly peacock bait. Butterfly peacock are not as abundant as they were prior to the 2010 cold snap but anglers are catching them from canals in the Weston and Miramar area. The FWC strongly encourages the catch and release of butterfly peacock to help them rebound from the effects of this historically cold winter.
Palm Beach County:
A live shiner is always a good choice for largemouth bass, particularly while the water temperatures stay cool. Try fishing topwater lures right on the surface or speed up your retrieve to make them go sub-surface until you find a pattern that works. As the water temperatures rise, the bass will go deeper and plastic worms in the go-to colors such as red shad, black shad, watermelon seed, and june bug are excellent choices. Also crank baits such as Yo Zuri’s Rattlin Vibe and Rattle Traps in natural colors such as blue and black chrome, or shad colored fished around culverts with moving water are good bets for some fast action.
The butterfly peacock in the Ida-Osborne chain-of-lakes particularly Lake Ida and associated canals including the Delray Beach Canal (C-15) have really bounced back from the 2010 winterkill event. Live shiners and minnow imitating lures are good bets for peacocks and you might even catch the very unusual appearing clown knifefish.
Native and exotic bream (particularly Mayan cichlid) are caught on a variety of baits such as pieces of night crawler, crickets or small tube jigs, crappie jigs, grub tails or Roostertail spinners. Fish these baits along rocky shorelines for some great freshwater action. For flyfishers, try a 4 or 5 weight rod and tie on a bumble bee popper. The West Palm Beach Canal (C-51), Earman River (C-17), and Delray Beach (C-15) canals are places anglers should give a try.