by Capt. Greg Stamper
Although we may be lucky enough to see 75 degrees a few times in February, temperatures between the mid 50’s and low 70’s are more the reality until March. With a bit of lucky timing regarding cold fronts, anglers will have options.
Wind becomes a big factor, especially that which comes driving down on us from the North or Northwest. Understanding the effects of cold fronts will dictate how successful your fishing days will be. Northern winds will silt up the backcountry waters in some areas, and mess with the tides in others. As strong fronts blow through they cool the water down. These post front conditions make things challenging for a few days.
When fishing after a cold front our strategy turns to slow and low. No worries though, those are the days we’ll hide in the creeks and tributaries fishing deeper holes hiding from the wind. Fishing at the doorstep of these cold fronts is always a favorite of mine, and often gives us a good bite. Fish right up to the moment when those cold fronts come rolling in, and the fish will be chewing.
Now, when we get East clockwise to Southwest winds we get the warmer weather and better fishing in general. So, now that we have the wind thing figured out what are we going to fish for?
On days when it hasn’t been windy for a while, we fish the clear water. During days like this you will have the possibility of sight casting to redfish, black drum, and even sheepshead in the back bays.
On cloudy water or dirty water days, try using shrimp or cut bait around the oyster bars and points for better action. Sheepshead will be a big target through February as the big fish spawn both inshore and on the reefs and wrecks. Black drum will continue to be a big target certainly thru March as they stay in and around the creeks, river mouths, canal systems with deeper water, and docks.
Trout fishing will be good, and it won’t be uncommon to catch them practically every cast at times. You’ll find the trout in 3 to 5 feet of water in good numbers and occasionally find big ones or “gators” up on the flats while red fishing.
Redfish will be a big target for many of us, as they can be found in small schools cruising around the flats.
Flounder will show up from time to time, usually hitting small swim baits or jigs tipped with shrimp. It’s not easy finding a big flounder around here, so if you get one close to 20” you’ve done well.
Pompano will still be plentiful both along the beaches and passes as well as on the nearshore reefs.
On those beautiful days, when we can run around out in the Gulf of Mexico; tripletail, kingfish, grouper, sheepshead will all be fair game. On the days we have light winds it usually means clean water, especially since we tend to get very little rain during the month of February.
Taking this into consideration, you will find that tripletail can be a great fish to target nearshore along the crab trap buoys, markers, and coastal signage. You can look for tripletail as you troll around for grouper or kingfish as crab traps are usually in the same areas grouper and kings will be found in. If you don’t want to move around a lot, you can always anchor up near your favorite reef or wreck and give them a go that way.
When bottom fishing this time of the year, flounder and sheepshead will be around the same areas as the groupers, so rig up accordingly for both. I prefer dropping two rods that can handle a serious grouper, cobia, kingfish, etc... and have two lighter rods with simple jigs to get the action from snappers, sheepshead, flounder, pompano and such.
Capt Greg Stamper
Snook Stamp Charters.com