Peacock bass are popular fish native to South America and the Amazon region. But a charter fishing trip in those places can be very expensive, not to mention the cost of travel, accommodation and the time off work it requires to truly experience a trip like that. Luckily, there’s another place a little closer to home (for most), that won’t cost you as much but still delivers the chance to catch a Peacock. And the best part, it’s accessible enough that you can (sort of) be your own captain.
The freshwater canals in Miami, Florida are home to numerous beautiful peacock bass. The accessibility of these canals is unmatched. Basically, these bass live right off the roads. To tourists, these canals are regular bodies of water, with no swimming holes, sandy beaches or tiki-themed shore-side bars they aren’t worth a second thought or glance. But to an angler, these waters are a must to explore.
If peacock bass fishing hasn’t caught your interest yet, and you’re looking for more of a pelagic fish, Miami is still the place go. Mahi, Wahoo, and Sailfish can be hooked just a few short miles off the beaches of Miami. Although paddling a kayak offshore probably doesn’t sound exhilarating to others, it will be an experience you cherish for a lifetime. And imagine the stories you can tell your friends. (There are sharks in these waters, y’know.)
Situated on the very southeastern portion of the Florida peninsula, Miami is the largest metropolis in Florida. And although the city has a reputation for rowdy spring breaks, lavish lifestyles and cruises, it can also be the perfect place to base a fishing trip.
First you’re going to want a safe and comfortable place to stay. The Marriott’s in Miami have always been a favorite of mine because of their clean rooms, decent food, the complimentary coffee in the lounge and reasonable prices. But most importantly, some have overnight security guards in the parking lots so you can sleep soundly knowing your kayak and other gear stuffed in your vehicle will be safe.
Opt to leave your gear at home and eliminate that checked luggage? You packed everything else but forgot your favorite lure? No worries. Paddleshops and bait shops abound in Miami and its surrounding suburbs. I guarantee one will have you covered for any situation, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yaker or paddle boarder. Most shop employees are super knowledgeable and will send you home with the gear you need to make your day on the water a success.
A day fishing amidst Miami’s canal systems can be pretty painless. The canals couldn’t be easier to find. The Blue Lagoons are a great starting point and are located just south of the Miami International Airport off of the Dolphin Expressway. You can park on the side of Blue Lagoons Drive, or park in a nearby store parking lot—a Burlington Coat Factory and a Publix are situated near the mouth of a canal that leads to multiple lakes from the lagoons. Don’t leave your rig without your PFD, some type of hard lure that imitates a bait fish or a prop bait on deck to get these fish to bite. I’ll forewarn you, the peacock bass put up quite a fight. Make sure your ready when you hook up to one.
These backwater canals twist and wind for miles through both residential and industrial areas as well as natural sections that make you forget you’re a cast away from a bustling city. The scenery and wildlife you see while fishing will be half of the fun. Throw your camera or phone into a waterproof bag, such as an Aquapac, and count on seeing massive Iguanas and a variety of aquatic, and rather exotic, birds. Don’t let the first impression of these canals fool you.
Fishing for peacock bass can make for a long day so food and hydration are always super important. For morning fuel or for a mid-day snack, check out La Crema Food and Grill on NW Twenty-Fifth Street. The beef empanadas with garlic sauce are the perfect pick me up for an afternoon fishing session. And to quench your thirst—don’t forget Miami is hot and humid no matter what time of year you visit—try one of the imported sodas for a twist on one of your favorite soft drinks. For dinner, you have to make it to Pepito’s Plaza. Pepito’s is a casual Latin/American style place connected to a convenience store. Located at the intersection of NW 58th street and NW 107th Ave. You can’t miss the line of people wrapped around the outside patio. Grab a menu to look at while you’re waiting in line. One of their most popular and flavorful dishes is the Hamburguesa Doble Especial—a hamburger topped with a slab of ham, French fry straws, and a fried egg. If that doesn’t sound amazing to you, they offer hot dogs with a variety of unique toppings, tacos, and daily specials.
After a successful day of fishing, a cold one is much needed. Whether it’s to celebrate your record catch or to knock off the defeat of getting skunked, you’re in the right city to find an adult beverage. Miami is known for its nightlife. From simple on the water bars to a nightclub, Miami has it covered. Grab a chilly adult Slurpee at Wet Willies. With a wall lined with a number of flavored syrups, I’m sure they will have one you’ll love. Plus, it’s a very casual place, you’ll fit right in sporting your NRS Crush, dirty H2Core tee, and the faint fishiness surrounding you.
Miami is the place to make one of your fishing destinations whether you’re a salt water or freshwater angler. Its freshwater canals are filled with trophy fish. Although invisible to the naked eye of most tourists, to a fisherman these waters are just the beginning to an epic adventure.
Editor’s Note: Guest Contributor Sydney Sewell was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Sydney’s first memories of fishing are with her grandparents and cane poles catching pan fish. When she was 13 she caught her first largemouth bass and never looked back.