February is upon us, but it feels more like March. Temperatures were about 15 degrees above normal last month. Not sure if February will stay true to last month, but if so, spring is coming early. The fish in our region last month have been in a transition phase. Most fish have been on the move, thinking spring has come early, so it is important to move around to find fish. The snook bite continues to be steady, redfish have been hit or miss, and the trout bite has been outstanding.
The trout bite has been solid all year and should stay that way this month. Areas from downtown to Joe’s Island are holding some nice trout. We are getting them on a variety of baits. White bait and shrimp are the live options. Soft plastics rigged on a jig head are another. I prefer fishing trout with soft plastics because you can cover more ground. I like to use a D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad tail, pearl body with ¼ ounce chartreuse or red jig. Experiment with colors and other baits to find your favorite.
We are still fishing for snook with success and it’s January. If the warm weather sticks around, continue to target snook. Snook have been moving around a bit, but if you can find them, you will have success. A couple of things to look for when trying to find snook are moving water and ambush points/structure. Areas in and around Alafia River, Little Manatee, and Cockroach Bay have been holding fish. The key is to have live white bait. A perfect setup is a 25lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader with a #1 or 1/0 (depending on size of bait) Daiichi circle hook.
It’s that time of year and the sheepshead bite should be in full swing. These fish will be preparing to spawn so they will be schooling up and eating on most reefs and rock piles. They will also be hanging around most residential docks and other structures inshore. Shrimp is the most common bait, but fiddler crabs may be more productive. Size limit is 12” and you can keep 15 per person. Be sure to only keep what you plan on eating and enjoy.
Best of the Rest
Flounder continue to keep rods bent. Fishing the potholes on the flats continue to produce keeper size fish. A pearl D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad tail under a popping cork has been working great. Redfish have been hit or miss, but we are getting a few each trip. Free line shrimp on 20lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader and a #1 Daiichi Bleeding Bait Hook. If we get a major cold front and temperatures fall quickly, look to fish the TECO Power Plant. The warm water discharge will hold a wide variety of species.