Yesterday you learned about the most sought after species of peacock bass, the “speckled” or “striped (Cichla temensis). Today I’ll show you the other three that I’m familiar with. First and most common is the “butterfly” (Cichla ocellaris). This smaller member of the peacock bass family is by far the most cooperative. It’s rare to catch one larger than about 3 lbs but I’ve seen a 6lber in Venezuela. Butterflies most commonly have three black spots and no black patches behind the eyes. These fish frequently live in slightly fast water and often shallower than the other species. Butterfly peacocks have successfully been planted in Florida. Second is the “gray bar” (Cichla monoculus). The gray bar is another of the smaller species rarely reaching over 5lbs. I’ve never caught one bigger than 2lbs. They are absolutely beautiful with three black triangular markings along the back, a black smudged like bar from the base of the pectoral fin half way back and some fire orange from the lower jaw back into the belly. The gray bars love to hang tight in sunken trees. I haven’t caught many but when I find one I often catch several. Third is the “royal” (Cichla intermedia). This is the smallest species of peacock bass and lives in the Orinoco drainage of Venezuela. This little guy has about eight black bars and a faint stripe the length of his body. I had the good fortune of fishing Laguna Larga Camp on the Cinaruco River in Venezuela where the royal is plentiful. During the same week, angler Steve Jensen of Bogotá, Colombia was specifically targeting fly rod world records for this species. I probably wouldn’t have payed much attention to this fish but Steve pointed out the beauty in these guys. We caught a lot of them and Steve broke several fly rod line class records including a 3.8lber on 16lb class tippet.
With all this extra time this week I’ll continue to post information about the fly rod species of the Amazon. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I know about a few of the smaller cichlids you often catch while chasingpeacocks. This certainly isn’t as fun as being there but it’s the best we can do. Hopefully this gets everyone fired up enough to join me February 11-18, 2012!