February is historically a mild month, with temps ranging from 64-75 degrees. It is often a dry month with more winds, however it begins our warming trend away from winter and into the spring. As the water begins to warm up in the bay, fish like snook, redfish, and trout will begin making their way out of the creeks and rivers and back onto the flats and beachfronts for the spring and summer. This transition will have the fish looking for meals to sustain them on their journeys. As we move into spring fishing the bait will be getting bigger, as we’ll have threadfins make their way into the bay and not too long after, our tarpon migration and crab flushes will begin.
Springtime snook and redfishing is hot and February is a great time to begin taking notice of their patterns for the next few months. Creek mouths and river mouths on an outgoing tide is a great area to pitch baits, as we are coming off a big full moon and big outgoing tides. The first few weeks of February will produce longer, slower incoming tides and quicker outgoing tides. The slow incoming doesn’t always make for a great bite but waiting for the tide to flip and head out gets the fish into ambush points and waiting to feed.
Trout and flounder bites have been ramping up recently in the bay and both can be targeted with shrimp or small swim baits on a weighted jig hook. I like a Z-Man Trout Eye jighead, in 3/16 or 1/4 oz. depending on depth paired with a Trout Trick Jerk ShrimpZ or MinnowZ. You want a slower, erratic retrieval with the shrimp, as it reaches the bottom and your line gets slack, you want to be beginning your next pop and reeling that slack. For the minnow you want a steady, slow retrieve with occasional twitches bumping the baits through the grass and focusing on making long casts to potholes. If you find yourself hooking smaller fish, work your way to deeper water. Our water had been pretty clear in between the cold fronts, but with this recent blow, the wind has stirred it up again as we begin February. When the water is dirty and stirred up bigger baits with more color and action are a go to, such as chartreuse.Soaking a shrimp or bait with a cut tail and small weight if needed will allow the fish to sniff it out, given some time. When the water is clearer once the wind settles, you want to move back to a smaller, low profile bait and natural colors.
Lots of black drum are being caught around the bridges and these fish can weigh well over 50lbs and make for a fun fight on shrimp, cut blue crabs, or even artificial swimbaits on both light and heavy tackle. On slack tides you may see these bruisers breaking the surface while munching on barnacles and crustaceans much like sheepshead.
Good Luck this Month and see you next time,
Capt. Skylar Wilks
The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Mastry Suzuki Repower
Capt Skylar Wilks
Inspired Fishing Charters
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Hi – I’m Captain Skylar Wilks and I am a full-time Tampa Bay Inshore Guide, residing in Madeira Beach. I grew up spending my weekends and summers fishing with my Grandparents who live across the street from the Madeira Beach Marina. In 2011, I moved a bit further south to Fort Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, with a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was spending my time learning the waters and fishing in Sanibel, Estero Bay, and the Naples area. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Business Management and moved back to Madeira Beach to launch my fishing business, Inspired Fishing Charters.