My clients Mark M. and his father-in-law Chuck, contacted me over the weekend and wanted to target butterfly peacocks as neither one had ever caught one. This week is a bit hectic with the holidays and all but I managed to squeeze them in for a 1/2 day guide. Chuck had never even heard about peas until his son-in-law turned him onto them recently. They came down from St. Petersburg Florida to sunny Miami, FL. Unfortunately, this morning was cold, foggy, and super overcast with zero sun which made sighting them near impossible. The baits were thin and the waters were super calm and a slight NNW wind made it a bit more chilly. After catching our own baits at a local park, we head off to the first spot which has produced very decent largemouth bass, peacocks, and the occasional freshwater snook and tarpon in the past for me. I knew with the conditions we had to work with, the peas were going to be sitting much lower than usual.
On Chuck's first cast, a nice pea trailed his bait in almost to his feet at the water's edge, suddenly appearing from the dark depths of the canal. I told him to quickly pop his bait back out, leading the pea away from his attention to us. I didn't want to spook him. On the very next cast, Chuck broke the ice today with his first pea ever and a solid one too.
We got a couple of still shots, revived him and off he went, fading back into the darkness. We made a few more casts but I didn't like what I was seeing so we decided to head to the next spot. As we got there, I noticed that the water flowing was very strong and not flowing the direction I would of liked. I saw a few small largemouth bass (lmb), a couple of young peas, no more than a couple of months old so I decide to head to the next spot.
Several minutes after getting to our last location, I don't see much. The overcast got thicker and the temperature seemed to decline a bit more. Exactly what you don't want when targeting for peas. We slowly start to work the ledges and drop offs with not even a nibble. I decide to move down and told Mark to cast just off this point, within seconds, he was on a solid 4-5# pea and fought it on 10# braid for a bit before he spat the hook. We got to see him jump and had him just out of reach but I didn't want to horse him in with light tackle and he was completely "green" still. Like I always say to my friends, "sometimes fishing is like girls, some action is better than no action." Several feet up, Mark gets hit again and lands this little guy that was really fired up. He was not happy one bit as he munched on my hand the entire time.
We move down a bit more to a spot I scouted yesterday and saw a really nice pea and hoped he was still in the area. We found him about 20 yds. from where I saw him. Mark made a few casts but this guy was pretty smart. He must have been establishing a nest as he took the bait a couple of times but kept "poofing" it right back out. Peas tend to do this when nesting or during spawn which I never target but I didn't see a female and he was too fat to have fry yet. He had definitely declare this spot his territory as he chased away our baits more than trying to feed. We spent some time trying to get him to really commit but no cigar. I decide to go knee deep in the chilly water to get a better view of what's going on. He was just being territorial and was in feeding but very sluggish and suspicious of the bait, not to mention the Asian dude in the water looking at him. Mark could not see what I was seeing so I decide to really guide him on this one as I wanted him to catch it as much as he wanted to. The very next second, I see him turn to the bait, trail it for a bit, and he started to really come alive. As soon as he took the bait, he just sat there and simultaneously, I tell Mark to reel on him hard. Without any hesitation, Mark started to reel tight to the fish and he exploded on us. I see the large pea wanting to surge up and jump, I tell Mark to go side arm, not allowing the pea to jump and we land this very nice pea. Jumps are very cool to see and super impressive at times but with each jump, you give the fish on a good chance of spitting the hook or simply pulling it out if not hooked well. After landing this big guy, I noticed the hook was just on the rim of his lip, we definitely would of lost this one had he jumped.
Sometimes, all you need is team work! Despite the elements and almost everything working against us, we managed some quality peas today in a short period of time. We caught a little lmb shortly after on artificial but nothing to write home about. Not bad for a few hours.