FloridaFishingHow to Fish in Florida

How to Fish Clown Knifefish in FL

How to Fish Clown Knifefish in FL

From the habitat to habits, learn all you need to know to boost your chance of success at catching clown knifefish while night fishing in Florida.

Where to Catch Clown Knifefish in Florida

Clown knifefish are native to tropical areas in Asia like Thailand and Indochina and are therefore considered an invasive species in the United States. It is likely they were introduced in American waters after being released from a pet aquarium. They are currently only found in one state: Florida, and even there, they are limited to a single region: the southeast, primarily in the Delray Beach area.

Since the 1990s, anglers have been targeting the nocturnal species, which is most at home in Lakes Osborne, Ida and associated canals. Lake Ida clown knifefish are those most readily caught, followed by those in Lake Osborne. While established in Palm Beach County, some anglers believe they may have now migrated to other areas of the state like Broward County.

Clown Knife Fish Habitats

When learning how to fish for clown knifefish, it’s important to understand their habitats. This freshwater Florida fish species prefers lakes, swamps, and river backwaters. Adults are usually loaners and can be found close to shore in spots that have cover like overhanging vegetation, debris, pilings, or docks. They can breathe air so stagnant waters aren’t a problem.

One of the best ways to find clown knifefish is by relying on one of the latest Florida fishing reports published by a guide or captain in southeast Florida. To zero in on the most productive spots to catch clown knifefish, you may want to hire a charter. The pros who lead these trips locate clown knifefish regularly and can provide the guidance and gear you need to catch one.

Feeding Patterns of Clown Knifefish

Mastering how to catch clown knifefish requires understanding what and when they eat. Clown knifefish prefer live prey. Generally, that means other fish that are small enough to fit in their mouth such as shad and minnows. They also go after insects, small amphibians as well as grass shrimp and other small crustaceans. While live bait may be most effective when learning how to catch clown knifefish, you may also want to experiment with dead bait and lures that mimic its diet.

The Best Time to Fish for Clown Knifefish

The sought-after clown knifefish is nocturnal, so the best time to go out for a successful experience on the water is at night. However, while they are most active at night when feeding – and they are truly aggressive feeders – you can still catch them during the day, especially if you head out in the early morning before sunrise.


Another thing to keep in mind when deciding to target this Florida fish is the weather. After heavy rains can be ideal times to head out in search of the elusive species because of the current created so you may want to consider the rainy season that runs from May to June for prime fishing opportunities.

Get Your Florida Fishing License

Before you head out looking for where to catch clown knifefish in Florida, remember that the state requires anyone 16 or older – resident or nonresident – to have a valid license for freshwater fishing. You can buy licenses online or by phone.