February’s Fishing Opportunity

Air and water temperatures vary widely during February due to the frequency and strength of frontal passages but there is still excellent fishing opportunity for dedicated anglers. Let’s have a look.

February ranks as a prime month for trophy trout, thanks in great part to Jim Wallace’s state record speck from Baffin Bay in 1996. Water temperature and tide patterns align almost perfectly, which means our beloved trophy fish become very predictable in their movements and feeding patterns in both pre- and post-front conditions. The hardest of the hardcores monitor coastal weather trends continuously to identify days with greatest potential.

When backcountry water levels reach some of the lowest of the year, redfish gather in large schools, cruising bay shorelines in search of just about anything they can swallow. Schools of a hundred-plus are not uncommon. Having witnessed this spectacle scores of times I can truthfully say it is a sight to behold. It almost reminds me of a combine moving through a field of ripe grain as mullet, shrimp, and small crabs scurry in every direction to avoid being eaten. Tie on a lure, any lure, put it in their path, and hang on.

February’s flounder action begins to increase significantly as mature spawning fish begin making their way back to the bays from the gulf. It typically begins on flats and drop-offs near gulf passes and spreads along major channels as the migration reaches its peak. Sloughs that connect backwaters and bays also become hotspots for anglers seeking to get in on the action.

Black drum begin their annual spawning migration for anglers seeking a big pull from a largely underrated species, and the gulf passes are where you want to be to get in on the action. Slot-sized specimens offer wonderful table fare. Great family fun!

Last but in no way least, in my book anyway, are the sheepshead. Sheepies are fond of nibbling barnacles from pilings and jetty rocks, and can often be found in surprising numbers this time of year. Pound for pound these are some of the hardest fighters. Great fun for youngsters with a piece of shrimp or crab dangling from a popping cork near any type of structure. If by chance you have never fried a bunch of sheepshead fillets you’re in for a treat!

So, don’t fall into the couch potato trap. Get the family bundled up and get on the water. With that note of encouragement I also want to offer a few words of caution; February weather can be highly-changeable and the middle of the bay is no place to be when a gusting norther reaches the coast. Keep those PFDs handy and enjoy great fishing!