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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Earlier this week I was booked to fish out of Flamingo, a double boat trip with four anglers total, but on that day the weather was just awful - a combination of a strong cold front with high winds combined with a full moon tide (super high water, most of it very muddy from the high winds everywhere... ). What to do... Capt Mark Giaccobba suggested we switch gears and head for freshwater canals locally targeting peacock bass and the other assorted freshwater types... His suggestion saved the day and we were going to be fishing the canals along Alligator Alley (I-75 between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples - but on the Lauderdale side only thirty miles to the west...).
We got on the water just at dawn, ran a few miles to the west and found fish on a day when we'd have been skunked in the backcountry down at Flamingo... My anglers caught and released peacocks, oscars and other cichlids, as well as a short nosed gar fish - all on clouser variants on 1/0 hooks mostly using 8wt rods... Here's a pic of our first peacock

Believe I'll have to do this more often. If not for those many freshwater canals, I'd have had to cancel that day's trip... Iv'e just gotten my first 5wt rod as well... When conditions allow it should turn any oscar or small peacock bass into a great encounter...

"Be a hero... take a kid fishing"
 

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Earlier this week I was booked to fish out of Flamingo, a double boat trip with four anglers total, but on that day the weather was just awful - a combination of a strong cold front with high winds combined with a full moon tide (super high water, most of it very muddy from the high winds everywhere... ). What to do... Capt Mark Giaccobba suggested we switch gears and head for freshwater canals locally targeting peacock bass and the other assorted freshwater types... His suggestion saved the day and we were going to be fishing the canals along Alligator Alley (I-75 between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples - but on the Lauderdale side only thirty miles to the west...).
We got on the water just at dawn, ran a few miles to the west and found fish on a day when we'd have been skunked in the backcountry down at Flamingo... My anglers caught and released peacocks, oscars and other cichlids, as well as a short nosed gar fish - all on clouser variants on 1/0 hooks mostly using 8wt rods... Here's a pic of our first peacock

Believe I'll have to do this more often. If not for those many freshwater canals, I'd have had to cancel that day's trip... Iv'e just gotten my first 5wt rod as well... When conditions allow it should turn any oscar or small peacock bass into a great encounter...

"Be a hero... take a kid fishing"
Love those “plan B’s”!
 

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Yeah my son and I have discussed hitting those canals for a day trip, any other good spots to launch down there? On the way down to the keys we stopped off the Tamiami Trail for a few hours to fish and I caught a pretty big Oscar. Was kind of surreal to catch a fish you'd normally see in a pet store lol.

We didn't catch any peacocks tho, saw them but they weren't biting. Definitely on the bucket list to catch a peacock.

Could you post a map link to the spot you launched? I don't remember seeing any exits off Alligator Alley to do that.
 

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Did you put in at one of the ramps that are on the rest area on 75? Last year were driving down Alligator Alley almost to Weston and we pulled over to a launch ramp on the Miami Canal and I caught a jaguar cichlid on fly. While we were there, a pickup pulling a airboat pulls up to launch. Classic Florida cracker gets out. Long hair and a wife beater. He looks like Kid Rock. Then his smoking hot wife gets out wearing short shorts, cowboy boots and a bikini top. He is yelling at her to load the beer. Then their ******* kids get out, also wearing cowboy boots and shorts. The boy comes over to me with his rod and starts talking to me about fishing. I ask the boy, who is maybe 11, if the girl is his girlfriend. He says, “That’s my sister. You would crap your pants if you saw my girlfriend.” Then the girl who looks 12 says, “Daddy says I’m the best kisser.” You can’t make this stuff up folks. But you can embellish some of it.
 

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Mitzi 17’ Tournament Sea Borne 21’ Bay
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Grew up hunting and fishing Area 3 and Area 2 It is beautiful but limited in a skiff or bass boat. The true beauty of that area can only be seen by airboat.
on another note on bad days Blue Lagoon and that entire canal system is pretty awesome. I have caught Snook, Peacock, Large Mouth, and Tarpon all in that one lake and canal system all in the same day.
I really miss the beauty of the Glades but I do love the Flood Tides up here.
 

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Yeah my son and I have discussed hitting those canals for a day trip, any other good spots to launch down there? On the way down to the keys we stopped off the Tamiami Trail for a few hours to fish and I caught a pretty big Oscar. Was kind of surreal to catch a fish you'd normally see in a pet store lol.

We didn't catch any peacocks tho, saw them but they weren't biting. Definitely on the bucket list to catch a peacock.

Could you post a map link to the spot you launched? I don't remember seeing any exits off Alligator Alley to do that.
There are several recreational boat ramps along both sides of the alley. ALL of them are good to fish just choose one, pick a direction and go. It’s a fantastic spot to get young ones into being on the water. Plenty of fairly easy fishing, and tons of alligator and bird watching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As noted there are three or four ramps on the north side of the Alley between the toll booth (MM25) and the Miccosuki service station (MM50) and probably just as many on the south side… Al of them within forty or fifty miles of Ft Lauderdale. Some are bare bones hardly more than a ramp, parking lot and a picnic table - one or two have full rest stop facilities including vending machines and an ATM. Take your choice (Google Earth is your friend)… The canals are deep waters but be very cautious of any bends where it’s very shallow and there are rocks (ask me how I know….).

Lastly, can anyone tell me where I can find info on the different species of Oscar and/or cichlid. I can see there’s a variety and would like to know more… They sure do fight hard for their size.
 

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One of the most fun days flyfishing ever was catching peacocks, mayan cichlids, oscars, bass and sunfish on a 4 weight. probably caught 100 in 3 h. Orange wooly buggers were the best pattern. This was at 40 mile bend off 41. If you want to know all the cichlids in south fl google invasive fish species fl and you will find an exhaustive list of fresh and saltwater species many of which you will recognize if you ever were in the fish keeping hobby...
 

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As an aside I drive from sarasota-is there anywhere cheap and safe to stay and keep a skiff overnight close to these launches? I've stayed at Rod and Gun a few times but its not that close to the fishing...
 

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They are catching peacocks around Cape Coral now. I have to imagine the other exotics are there also. I know I've caught Oscars and Mayans on the west side of Tamiami
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
As noted peacocks have been spreading across south Florida from their initial stocking way back in the early eighties... I belonged to the old Tropical Anglers Club down in Miami back then and the guy responsible for the program was nice enough to come out to the club a few times and fill us in on the program. It was believed back then that the peacocks simply could not survive west of the canals in Dade and Broward counties (they're very cold sensitive and the shallows of the Everglades wouldn't stay warm enough in winter..). Evidently they were wrong - or the fish themselves were able to adapt over time... Remember that most roadside canals down here are quite deep - at least ten feet in most places (we found one or two spots on Monday where my depth machine showed 30 feet deep in short section of canal...).... so that alone may have allowed them to spread. In my experience I've learned to count on a fish-killing cold front down here every seven to ten years so their expanded range may end the next time it gets really cold - and stays that way for a few days... Slow moving cold fronts allow fish (everything from tarpon and snook in brackish waters - to peacocks and others in fresh waters) to move into safety zones where the water remains warm enough for them to survive. Fast moving fronts simply catch fish up shallow a long way from safety - then we get to see them floating as a result... in great numbers and it may take years for a given population to recover...

As a general proposition there are oscars and other cichlids in all of our canals now from Naples all the way across back to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale - but the bulk of the peacocks will be found within about fifty miles of the eastern cities... If you're coming from the Gulf coast, the Tamiami Trail (US 41) is your best bet for oscars and everything else -at times loaded with small tarpon, snook, and other "saltwater types" as well as oscars, bass, garfish, and other freshwater types up and down both sides of the canals that are right next to the roadway (pay particular attention to the small bridges along that entire road from Naples back to the east..). Places to stay are another matter with places close to Naples then on out to S. R. 29 (the turn- off to Everglades City / Chokoloskee). Past that nothing until you near the Miami side.. About seven or eight miles from S.R. 29 - there's a big resort right on the Trail - it's called Port of the Islands and it offers everything you'd need, including access down into the Ten Thousand islands by canal...

For peacocks you'd want to stay on the Miami / Ft. Lauderdale side of things with many, many places to stay - then you'd be driving back to the west each day to fish either the Tamiami canals (from Miiami) or the Alligator Alley canal system (from Ft. Lauderdale). Finding places to stay that are both low cost and reasonably safe and convenient... That might take some research... All of south Florida is an angler's heaven - choosing what part of it to visit, stay, and fish... you'll have so many different choices that it can become an every night hobby doing the research...

Lastly thanks much for the advice on where to find info about oscars and other freshwater exotics... This old saltwater guy has some learning to do... Tough being a guide and not knowing hardly anything about the fish my anglers have been boating...
 
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