February Tampa Bay fishing has been great. Despite several cold fronts and high winds, we have been able to put together some excellent days on the water. The past week, temperatures have been in the high 70’s and the fish are loving it. I am a little reluctant to say “spring has sprung” but the fishing has been just as good at times. Snook, Redfish, and Trout have all made for some great action in the backcountry.
This time of year, having live bait can be the difference maker. We have had our ups and downs finding and catching it some days, but for the most part have been able to secure enough to run charters – weather permitting. Snook are still hiding out in their winter time haunts but are moving on a daily basis out of the backcountry, creeks, canals, and rivers. A live pilchard (greenback) is the bait of choice and I prefer to freeline most of the time. As always, the tide has been key to catching numbers. For us, the incoming tide has been best. Primarily the middle to end of the tide depending on the area. Trout fishing has been on fire. We have been fishing several different areas along the South Shore producing quality trout 17-19” with a handful 22”+ in the mix. The moving tide hasn’t been as critical in chasing the trout as much as the water depth. Unlike Snook, Large aggregations of trout prefer deeper areas to lay up and feed. On the lower tides, some of these places are inaccessible – but once there is enough water to get there, game on! In deeper water (4-6’), we have been fishing the bottom with a small split shot and 4’ or less we have been using a popping cork. They will take a live bait or large shrimp. If you like throwing artificial, try using a D.O.A. CAL jig paired with a ¼ oz jig head. My go to color is #313 Gold Glitter. As of late, some nice Redfish are starting to show up. Through the colder months, we catch a lot of smaller fish. Mainly due to the areas we are fishing, but it’s always a good sign to see them joining the party while we’re catching Snook. Generally, that means Spring is not too far away. Since we haven’t been targeting them specifically, most have been caught on a live pilchard. However, just about every time we have fished with shrimp, we caught some Redfish.
We’ve got a few more weeks until some of the best inshore fishing is upon us. If we’re lucky, we will dodge any major cold fronts moving forward to March and stack the cards for an amazing Spring fishery. Make sure you get all your boat repairs and maintenance done now. You don’t want to be left sitting at the dock over the next few months! Until next time – tight lines!
Capt. Travis Yaeckel
Instinct Fishing Co.
The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Suzuki Repower and Mastry Engine Center.
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