Florida Angler Hauls in Massive Butterfly Peacock Bass, Breaking 28-Year-Old State Record

by Amy Myers

This Florida resident was probably just looking for a way to relax after another long day at work. What he got instead, though, was his name in the books. At 9.11 pounds and 23 5/16 inches long, Felipe Prieto’s butterfly peacock bass broke Florida’s 28-year-old record. While fishing after work, the angler from Hialeah caught the record-breaking fish in a Broward County lake using live bait. Prieto’s catch outranks the previous 1993 record fish of 9.08 pounds.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission happily boasted the new record on Facebook. The commission posted along with the news a photo of the smiling angler with his butterfly peacock bass.

Followers commended the local angler for his colorful catch. Some noted the news as a challenge to find a 10-pound butterfly peacock bass. Others were more interested in more pressing details.

“Exact location please, for research purposes…” fellow fisherman Paul Lore wrote.

While he’s at it, he might as well ask for the bait type, too. 

Florida FWC Says Butterfly Peacock Bass Population is Beneficial to Ecosystem and Economy

Besides sharing his accomplishment with other locals, the FWC offered the angler his official certification for the record-breaking fish. According to the official release, the butterfly peacock bass is the only non-native freshwater fish that is legally established in Florida. When officials originally introduced butterfly peacocks to the state’s waterways, they hoped the species would help reduce exotic fish populations, such as spotted tilapia. Along with preserving the ecosystem’s equilibrium, the presence of the new species has created a new fishery.

“The butterfly peacock bass is colorful, a lightning-fast striker and a hard fighter,” said FWC Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Anglers from across the country travel here to catch a peacock bass, which only adds to the tremendous economic impact fishing has in Florida. This unique game fish is just one of the features that makes Florida, truly, the Fishing and Boating Capital of the World.” 

Though butterfly peacock bass usually shy away from colder waters this time of year, milder winters have encouraged the fish to travel farther north near Palm Beach County. Originally from South America, the fish have adapted to southeast Florida temperatures. FWC biologists have reportedly seen butterfly peacocks even larger than Preito’s, meaning that we could see another record-breaking catch in the near future.

For those looking to find a butterfly peacock bass themselves, your best bet is to head to the southern parts of the Sunshine State. This freshwater fish tends to prefer live bait, so live shiners are the best choice for bait. In a pinch, lures like crankbaits, jigs and topwater plugs will also provide the movement needed to catch the attention of this extraordinary catch.