Last Updated on January 15, 2022 by Eric
Throughout the month of February, cool water temperatures will continue to aggregate fish in key areas throughout the Tampa Bay area. The routine winter cold fronts will occasionally pass through the area, bringing with them a north wind, and cooling down water temperatures. These fronts will cause fish to feed more aggressively preceding the fronts and also push them to predictable warmer water locations in the area.
In this pattern, we can reliably locate fish in deep creeks, river mouths, residential canals, warm water outflows, and shallow bays. For all target species, live bait is important for colder water. By presenting shrimp, crabs, or whitebait in the most natural way possible we increase our chances of success.
The winter months are great for sight fishing for redfish and trout due to the increased water clarity resulting from less rainfall. Redfish can often be located sunning on mudflats or cruising the shallow flats looking for baitfish and crustaceans. Trout can be spotted waiting to ambush prey in shallow potholes near grass or oysters bars.
Snook fishing is more challenging when our water temperatures are in the mid to low 60s in February. To increase our odds, they are best targeted on the days with warming water temperatures, and by fishing the warmest water we can find near structures.
A good technique this time of year is to cast live bait under residential docks. When doing this we need to ensure we tighten the drag and upsize our leaders and line to make sure we can get the snook out of the structure without getting broken off during the fight. It is also not unusual to see large snook in shallow water warming in the sun. These sunning fish may be finicky and difficult to catch, but it is very exciting to get a shot to sight-cast one of these monster fish.
Two species of fish that are winter favorites are sheepshead and mangrove snapper. They are exciting to catch, hard fighting, and very good to eat. They are both found near underwater man-made or rock piles. Sheepshead can’t resist small fiddler crabs. Small hooks and a quick hand are needed to win the battle with these notorious bait thieves. Once you figure out the technique, it is common to catch many keeper-size fish (over. Mangrove snapper are some of the most tenacious fish in the sea. Once a school of them is fired up by chumming, every cast can lead to a hookup.
If you want to learn how to catch fish during the colder weather months, reserve your trip with Capt. Bucky today.