Fishing in February.
As history tends to repeat itself, this year is no different in terms of our fishery here in Tampa Bay. Now in my tenth year of guiding my home waters, this time of year can be some of the most unpredictable weather and fishing patterns we see. We are at the mercy of mother nature for sure and I prefer to play it day by day with my approach for catching fish. As of late, we have had a few short-lived cold fronts that plagued the bay with high winds and cooler water temps. Most of those days, we chose to reschedule for nicer weather but we have managed to get out and fish quite a bit.
Thankfully, bait has been plentiful and though there are days that are more challenging than others, we have continued to load up the livewell for our trips. With the exception of a few deeper range markers, the larger numbers of bait have been at the Skyway Bridge. At times, the clear water and strong currents can make it difficult to catch but using a fair amount of chum and getting out before high sun will make it a little easier on you.
After securing bait, we have been fishing the deep creeks, residential canals, and backcountry bays for a variety of fish. On the warmer days, the snook fishing has been stellar. With fish staged up in the River systems and canals, they are hungry and ready to feast when the temps are right. Most of these fish range from 22-26” with the occasional slot fish in the mix and we are catching anywhere from 20-30 fish a trip. The highlight however, would have to be the Redfish. With the water clarity at “Crystal”, it has been easy to see good numbers of schooling fish patrolling the shallows. Catching them can be somewhat of an art form at times as they can be extremely spooky this time of year. Unlike the Spring time when bait is everywhere and they are keyed on fin fish, they are primary feeding on crustaceans, shrimps, etc. In my opinion, this tends to naturally slow down there feeding pattern and approach. One thing that I like to do is keep my live chumming at a minimum until we start catching a few fish. I’ve noticed at times fishing single baits and not making a bunch of commotion on the water will increase your success. Finally, speckled sea trout. Although we haven’t targeted trout specifically since the closure, we have been catching some nice, healthy fish mixed in the with Snook and Reds. There have been a few days where we have worked the outer sandbars with soft plastics and caught several fish over 20” laying in the potholes just on the edge of the grass.
All-in-all, the stage is being set for another incredible Spring fishing season. If we are spared the North winds for a few more weeks, you can expect to see water temps residing in the 70’s and the fish will be chewing the bottom out of the boat. If you haven’t already tightened up on maintenance, time is running out. Go ahead and get it done now because some of the best fishing of the year is just around the corner.
Until next month, tight lines and following seas!
The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Suzuki Repower and Mastry Engine Center.
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