February is the coldest fishing month here on the Lower Laguna and unpredictable weather can catch you out in the open water in tough conditions if you are not watchful. And although we have enjoyed a rather mild winter so far, there have been a few chilly days. Staying warm and dry should never be overlooked in the rush of pursuing your passion.
Good winter fishing apparel is worth its weight in gold. I say this because I constantly see fishermen underestimating the elements. Remember, it's better to over-layer than to not have enough warm clothes on your back. I recommend Simms apparel for maximum waterproof and wind protection. Go to simmsfishing.com, I'm sure you will find everything you will need for comfortable and safe winter fishing.
As unpredictable as February's weather can be, the catching on the Lower Laguna has been just the opposite. Even on the most miserable days we are finding excellent catches. An important factor to being successful is learning which protected areas will hold fishable clarity during windy conditions. For example, right before cold fronts we encounter strong south wind. During southerly blows most of the western shore will remain fishable and so will the extreme east side of the bay along the sand and grass transition. Finding fishable water in extreme weather will take some exploring and burning some fuel but the dividends will surely justify the effort.
On a recent trip the wind was howling out of the south at 37 mph and we were still able to find good fishable water. Because of the strong wind and wave action our Kelley Wigglers were coming up high in the water column, too high for the fish that were hugging bottom. To counteract this I borrowed a trick from Mr. Paul Brown and weighted our lures with a small piece of solder wire that I keep handy during winter for our Corky baits. It takes a little experimenting to find the right amount but we soon had our lures in the strike zone without having to switch to heavy jigs. A small piece of solder wire inserted where the hook point exits the lure is all it takes. I also like to wrap it on the split ring of my Corky's to work them lower in the water column. The neat thing about solder wire is that you can apply it in seconds and it is easy to adjust to any desired weight.
I reiterate what I said last month, our Lower Laguna trout population is better than I have seen in twenty years. We are catching solid trout in impressive numbers and we are seeing increasing numbers of trout running twenty-five to twenty-nine inches, more than we ever saw before the new regulations took effect. Recently, three days after a front, I cruised a flat that held the biggest concentration of trophy trout I have seen since the early 90's. It's experiences like these along with the number and quality of trout we are catching that has me excited.
We are finding solid trout throughout the Laguna. During colder periods or right after a front, Kelley Wigglers and Corky Fat Boys have been sure hitters. On warmer days or usually two to three days after a front is when we have found the fish up shallow. This is when the Corky floaters become very effective.
Redfish action has been very consistent north of Three Island's all the way up to the East Cut. It seems redfish have been scarcer south of Three Island's all the way to the Queen Isabella Causeway including both sides of the ICW. That's not to say there are none to be caught but they have been easier to locate and catch further north. We have had a few sporadic days where topwaters is what they want, but for the most part lots of blow-ups and few hook ups have occurred on top.
Personal best fish have brought smiles for many anglers lately and February promises to be no different. Our water is in great shape, but be sure to use caution as the tides will continue to be extremely low this month. Look for fish to be deeper on colder days. On warmer days following fronts they will be feeding on the flats or sunning on shallow shorelines. Always keep a sharp eye for bait activity and remember it's the challenge of the chase that makes it all worth it.