by Capt. Greg Stamper
We have had plenty of practice fishing Winter patterns in 2021, as the cold fronts continue to keep things cool. During this month we can expect some cold dates, some windy ones, and hopefully some chamber of commerce days. Typical temperatures will range from the upper 50’s to hopefully the low 80’s. Wind will tend to switch often as the tail ends of cold fronts will brush through from time to time. West to Northwest winds will follow these cold fronts making the days after tough for any offshore trips. Pre-frontal conditions will be the best bet for fisherman both inshore and off.
Our back bays and near shore waters will be full of fish visiting Southwest Florida for a few months. Black drum will be prevalent during this month and found in both our nearshore waters as well as inland bays. Shrimp becomes a do not leave home without bait during February. Fiddler crabs cut baits such as ladyfish or mullet, and pilchards will bag plenty of other species. I do find that in colder conditions cut baits can be very effective. Sheepshead, redfish, snook, snappers, trout, and flounder are a some of those targeted.
When water temperatures get into the low 60’s fish are not as aggressive so not moving your presentation and allowing the fish to come find it on their own, works well. Anglers that want to throw artificial baits or flies should think low and slow on the retrieval for the best results. It also does not hurt to try downsizing you baits, as sometimes that works better.
Typically, black drum, pompano, mackerel, bonito, kingfish, and tripletail will keep the nearshore to offshore guides busy when the gulf is calm. Do not discount the snapper fishing however, as it will be good this month. Those snapper fishing will typically get out to 75 feet and find mangrove, lane, mutton, and yellowtail snapper. The colder water pattern brings fish in closer to shore. Those boats running over forty miles will primarily be targeting red groupers. Those fishing the nearshore wrecks and reefs should keep an eye out for cobia. Cobia often come check out anything that is going on, then move on. These curious fish will give anglers a great fight if you are ready when you first see them. So that’s this months plan, as we should begin to see things warming up once March appears.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
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