Of all the incredible gamefish in the Amazon basin, the one that has received the most press is the peacock bass. Their remarkable, explosive topwater strike, combined with an astonishing ability to break heavy lines/leaders and straighten even stout saltwater hooks, makes them one of the most sought after species in the Amazon basin.
Peacock bass are not a true bass such as the largemouth and smallmouth bass (Micopterus Sp.) found in North American waters, but comprise a genus within the family Cichlidae. Cichlids are a diverse family of tropical fish found primarily throughout Africa, South America and southern Asia.
Although all peacock bass species are highly temperature sensitive fish, some have been successfully introduced in tropical areas from Panama to Hawaii. The latest transplants (C. ocellaris and C. monoculus) are happily swimming in many of the major freshwater irrigation channels in Dade County, Florida. No permanent populations of the giant species, C. temensis have ever been successfully transplanted outside of the Amazon basin and Lake Guri.
Although there are countless color variations throughout their range, there are only four currently recognized species of peacock bass, C. temensis, C. ocellaris, C. monoculus and C. nigrolineatus (there is a raging debate among ichthyologists and anglers on this topic). All species are commonly called tucunaré in Brazil and Peru, while other Spanish speaking South American countries use the term pavón.
A World-Class Fighter
The peacock bass' explosive strikes and spectacular fighting prowess serve to rank it among the greatest fighting fish in the world. Even big specimens, like this 17-pounder on the Rio Tapera, don't hesitate to go airborne. Bringing big, powerful fish like these to the boat in the tight quarters in which they are usually found is a great challenge for any angler.