Peacock Bass and the Z-Man Chatterbait Flashback Mini
I have been a resident of Florida since 1999, and have been living in South Florida since 2003. Being from New Jersey, I can honestly tell you that a cold front in Florida is NOTHING like a cold front up North. To say I have it easy now is an understatement, and this has definitely benefited the angler in me. Don't get me wrong, we have had a few chilly days here and there over the years, but we have not had freezing temperatures since 2010 so the bite here can still be relatively consistent in the cooler months, you just have to change your approach.
Many people who know me will tell you that I have the patience of a 5 year old in a toy store...I am a power fisherman, and while I know that sometimes works against me, I just can't help myself. I love power fishing an area and then moving to the next spot. There are a few lures that I can turn to and they will get the job done in the colder days of a "Florida" style winter, but one of those baits caught ME by surprise.
Let me explain...
A few months ago, I purchased a Z-Man Flashback Mini from Fishing Online. This is a very small chatterbait (available in 1/16 oz or 1/8 oz) that utilizes a tiny paddle tail soft plastic body rather than a skirt, and I purchased it with the intention of using it for panfishing, in other words when I wasn't catching squat! I recently discovered that this bait has actually caught more fish on a larger scale than it has panfish. Typical cold fronts can bring temps down to 50-60 degrees here in Florida, now we have had colder temps at times, but not frequently. Depending on how long we experience the colder air temps will obviously play a role in how cold the water temps get based on how deep the areas are that you are fishing. While there are a few lakes that I fish with depths down to anywhere from 25'-50', a majority of the areas I fish are usually no more than 12' deep so the water temps are much cooler and the fish simply will not be as active. This bait will still get the job done!
The other day when I went out, morning temps were at 63 degrees when I launched and the high that day was only going to reach 72 degrees. Because the front just started two days prior, the water was holding at 71 degrees so I knew I still had a shot at a decent day. I know that these temps sound amazing to my brethren in other areas of the country but this still has an impact on our local species in the South, Snakeheads, Peacocks, and other exotics in particular. Even largemouth will be a little shyer during these cooler temperatures. I knew that the fish I was targeting, Peacock, especially the larger ones, would be holding deeper and would not come up into the shallows unless the sun was beating on a particular area consistently for a few hours, which in turn would provide warmer water. I tied on a Flashback Mini, knowing that catching Peacocks on soft plastic such as worms would not work, and I was pleasantly surprised at the success of this tiny little bait.
Using spinning tackle and light line, I began to cast this bait (1/16 oz in Silver / Natural) in and around structure, paying close attention to areas when it was situated right above steep drop offs. These spots, especially when my fish finder would also show that there was additional structure at the bottom, say a fallen tree or a rocky base, would definitely be a prime spot that would be holding fish. A slow, steady retrieve was just enough to call the fish up to take one shot at it, before trying to retreat to the depths, and the results speak for themselves.
I love throwing surface or sub-surface lures for Peacock, and in the warmer months, these predators would absolutely crush a bait like that, but they will absolutely ignore a bait like that if it is not within easy reach for them. The cooler temps really cause them to conserve their energy. Now, if you can put, let's say a tasty little morsel within their grasp, that they will be all for. The key is working the bait slow and steady near structure. I even found that using an erratic, twitching retrieve just did not work as well...slow and steady won the race every time.
Most of the fish caught seemed to be at 8-10' deep, and as I said earlier, situated right along the bottom edge of a drop off. Because this bait is so light, I also utilized the count down method to allow the bait to sink a few feet down before starting the retrieve. This allowed me to find a pattern, thus locating fish.Now don't get me wrong, this bait will catch panfish as well, but if the fishing is tough, why not tie on this little bait...the results just might surprise you!
- FishOn ProStaff