Here comes February. From my years of experience I would say the shortest month is probably an angler’s best four weeks of the year to land a trophy trout. March and April are known for potentially heavier fish, if you gauge trophy status by weight more than length, given that developing roe adds greatly to their weight. February, though, is a month when trophy trout become more predictable and tend to congregate in larger groups, whereas spawning fish tend to be more scattered.
Lately, I have spent some time talking to big game hunters and they all seem to be well informed regarding the animal’s habits and behavior during the various seasons and weather conditions. Their knowledge has been gained over years of studying their quarry. Many of these same concepts are highly applicable to fishing – preferred seasonal habitats, feeding habits under varying weather and water conditions, etc.
On a recent trip, having not fished in more than a week, I spent considerable time reviewing the conditions we would face – air temperature, water temperature, wind prediction, tides, solunar, and the like. With all the information I could gather and prior experience to guide me, I narrowed it down to three specific fishing areas as we left the dock.
We stopped at my first choice as the conditions were perfect for the area and, let me tell you, I only started the outboard once after arriving. And that was to pull a repeat wade through the same stretch of water. We stayed on a solid bite for seven hours. Lucky guess? Carefully calculated guess would be more accurate. I’d done my homework and trusted the knowledge gained fishing similar conditions many years. The fish will always have the upper hand, but the more science and experience you can apply during the decision-making process, the better the odds of putting yourself among the species you are seeking.
Our speckled trout fishery appears very healthy and the big ones are showing up. My lure selection this time of year for larger trout includes Paul Brown’s family of slow-sinking/suspending baits, now made by MirrOlure, and the Borboleta Lele twitchbait. I am also very fond of the KWiggler Willow Tail Shad – Turtle Grass and Mansfield Margarita. Generally, a slower presentation is required, the colder the water the slower the retrieve with all the baits mentioned.
If your game is more oriented toward just catching fish in general, February is certainly a good time to experience that as well. The smaller trout will tend to feed better during periods of tide movement and there’s no better place than along the spoil humps and ledges of the ICW. Colder days will send them deeper and warm days will bring them to the shallower spoil areas. Trout of all sizes can be found in and around potholes on the flats during prolonged warming trends.
Good news for anglers who enjoying catching redfish; redfish numbers are presently very impressive and all that is required to get on them is to locate schools of mullet. Areas with plentiful blue crabs also seem to be attracting catchable numbers of the bronze bullies. A serious drop in water temperature will send them to deeper water temporarily but just wait until the sun comes out again. Shallow water warms very quickly and the reds can often be seen back on the flats the first warm afternoon after the front passes. Mud boils made by reds fleeing an approaching boat are some of the surest indicators for a fun-filled wading session.
February is usually our coldest month and the weather can be very unpredictable. I encourage that everybody heading out for a day of fishing check the weather forecast very carefully and dress accordingly. Fishing while you’re shivering is no fun and being stranded on the water overnight will definitely be miserable – possibly even life-threatening, should a strong norther happen to sweep across the coast. Dress in layers and consider packing some spare winter clothes in your dry box, just in case. Simms and AFTCO make excellent winter fishing wear; light, comfortable, and easy to fish in.I just received Power Pole's new CHARGE, a marine power management station that extends your day by applying power where it is needed as it transfers power between batteries very efficiently. For those of you that rely heavily on trolling motors, sound systems, or electronics that drain batteries, this system has great possibilities. I will be installing mine soon and will report back on its performance. Check it out and learn more on Power Pole's website.