by Capt. Tom Van Horn
As winter seasons go here in Central Florida, we certainly cannot complain about the cards dealt to us thus far. Except for a few frosty mornings, gorgeous fishing condition has prevailed, and we’ve experienced some good fishing as well.
On the flats, water levels are fallen in accord with our normal February conditions. These low water levels typically force redfish, black drum, and sea trout into the deeper pockets on the flats where the water temperature is a degree or two warmer. On colder days, falling water temperatures force most fish to seek deeper locations in search the warmest water they can find, and they become very sluggish.
As the sun warms the water, all it takes is a degree or two of change, and the fish will begin to move and feed in the shallows. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the deeper pockets within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise faster.
Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days make February one of the best months to sight fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats. For larger sea trout, fish at first light, sunset, or at night with natural baits, and target areas where mangrove edges, docks, and other structure are adjacent to deep water dredge holes, sloughs, or canals.
These same areas will also hold concentrations of small trout which can be caught throughout the day on small jigs and shrimp imitation baits like DOA Shrimp fished very slowly along the bottom.
Offshore, kingfish have been thick along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there if the water temperature stays above 68 degrees. When targeting kingfish this month focus your efforts on the areas of 8A Reef, Pelican Flats, and Bethel Shoals to the south for best results.
Look for cobia on the inshore wrecks like the Carol Lee, Dutch, and Sub Wreck out of Port Canaveral. Additionally, live bait is tough to find this time of year, so always carry a box of frozen Spanish sardines with you as backup.
Near-shore look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structures, and for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties.
Now is also the time for shore anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets and jetties.
Finally, windy days in February are a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River. Currently good catches of American shad, speckled perch, warmouth perch, and largemouth bass are being reported. The shad run has been slow this year with more fish being caught south of Hwy 50.
Remember when planning a fishing trip in February, keep a close eye on the weather, and fish whenever you have a chance.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn
407-416-1187 on the water