by Capt. Greg Stamper
February brings the best of our Winter fishing patterns. During this month we can expect some cold dates, some windy ones, and hopefully some chamber of commerce days. Depending on what Mother nature deals us, will depend on what fish we go after. Typical temperatures will range from the upper 50’s to the low 80’s. Wind will tend to switch often as the tail ends of cold fronts will brush through from time to time. West to Northwest winds will follow these cold fronts making the days after tough for any offshore trips. Pre-frontal conditions will be the best bet for fisherman both inshore and off.
Our back bays and near shore waters will be full of fish visiting Southwest Florida for a few months. Our deep holes around mangrove shorelines, docks, and even in our rivers and creeks can hold a lot of fish during these times. Black drum will be prevalent during this month and found in those places regularly. Shrimp becomes a don’t leave home without them bait during February. Fiddler crabs, cut baits such as ladyfish or mullet, and pilchards will bag plenty of other species.
Sheepshead, redfish, snook, snappers, trout, and flounder are a some of those targeted. When water temperatures get into the low 60’s fish aren’t as aggressive so not moving your presentation and allowing the fish to come find it on their own works well. Anglers that want to throw artificial baits or flies should think low and slow on the retrieval for the best results. It also doesn’t hurt to try downsizing you baits, as sometimes that works better.
Typically, black drum, pompano, mackerel, bonito, kingfish, and tripletail will keep the nearshore to offshore guides busy when they can get out. Don’t discount the snapper fishing however, as it’ll be good this month. Those snapper fishing will typically get out to 75 feet and find mangrove, lane, mutton, and yellowtail snapper.
The colder water pattern brings fish in closer to shore. Those boats running over forty miles will primarily be targeting red groupers. Finding bait hasn’t been much of a problem all last month, so hopefully it continues to be that way. Those fishing the nearshore wrecks and reefs should keep an eye out for cobia. Cobia often come check out anything that’s going on, then move on. These curious fish will give anglers a great fight as long as you’re ready when you first see them.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
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