The cooler weather means that winter time patterns are still producing fish. Until the water temps start to warm you can expect your winter time spots to keep fish in the boat but with the month of February comes a major change to one of the more popular winter time targets, Grouper. Lots of grouper are being caught in much shallower water than you find them in the summer time with local anglers catching some good fish in as little as 40 feet of water. Check with your local regulations because grouper season is closed in the month of February in many areas. You can check on all the regulations at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
Fish are still being caught at the warm water outflows of the local power plants. Live shrimp fished both under a cork as well as free lined continue to take a bunch of fish including Cobia, Jacks, Trout and Spanish mackerel.
- Sheepshead – Look for sheepshead around bridge pilings, docks, and radio towers. Scraping the pilings can turn the fish on and make them eat. Scrape a bunch of barnacles off wait a few minutes then drop down a fiddler crab on a small hook. Other good baits are pieces of shrimp, mussels, and barnacles.
- Black Drum – Big Black drum are living around the pilings and docks right now. They are hitting on both artificial grubs and live bait, especially crabs and shrimp. If you find that the drum you can see hanging around the docks seem to have lockjaw try them on a different tide. You would be surprised at the difference that water flow and level can make in a fishes appetite.
- Flounder – Flounder are being caught locally by fishing a grub slowly across the bottom. The trick to consistently catching them on artificials is to slow down and keep the grub near the bottom. Flounder lay in ambush on the bottom and then swim up and quickly strike as prey swims by. Typically they are not going to chase a bait, so slow down keep the grub moving and you can take home one of the best tasting fish that the area has to offer.
- Trout- Trout can be found on dark mud flats this time of year as the sun warms the waters more quickly due to the dark colored bottom. Covering water with a slow shallow lure such as a Mirrodine can produce some nice fish.