How To Find Fish In February

 In Fishing Reports, How To

Find Fish In February

February Speckled Trout in Pensacola, FL

February Speckled Trout in Pensacola.

February has long been known in and around North West Florida to be the month of big Speckled Trout. February can be a hard time to find fish, but if you follow this guide you will find more success on the water. For the better part of my younger life keeping Speckled Trout in North West Florida was against the law, but as of the last few years they have opened the fishery up to recreational anglers giving us the opportunity to actively seek and keep Speckled Trout which are great table fare. There are still other species to hunt on the water in February other than Trout So make sure your prepared for that. Below is my general guideline and fishing report for the month of February.

Inshore:

February can be a challenging time to find fish in Pensacola, but with a little patience and determination you can find the success you desire. I typically target Specks as they are more commonly known, Redfish, and Flounder in deeper water. Now the depth can vary depending on the temperature of the water and where are you fishing for them. There are generally only three places I look for them, deep grass flats, bridges, and rivers. We will start with the grass flats.

Grass Flats:

I try to keep my Blue Wave Pure Bay in shallow water (sub 2 feet deep) and make sure I am casting into deeper water. Mostly the 4-6 foot deep range, even going as far as 10-15 foot deep. This time of year the water temps are in the high 50’s to low 60’s. The higher the temperature the more active the fish and the shallower they go, the reverse is true for lower temps. Just the same as your summer patterns, always try to target abnormalities such as points, eddies, bare spots in the flat (known as pot holes), and deep docks. These spots provide a breakup in the bottom structure and are prone to harbor more bait than any other spot on the flat. Remember to fish slow, very slow. The fish need to conserve energy when the water is this cold and will only exert their energy when the opportunity presents itself instead of hunting the bait down. Bait presentation is key this time of year.

Bridges:

Bridges can be easier than you think to fish. You need a good set of Raymarine electronics with CHIRP Sidevision and CHIRP Downvision. You are going to want to slowly navigate your boat as close to the bridge going from one end to the other scanning the bridge for big amounts of bait. Most of the time you will see the big fish in and around the bait balls. Set up to fish those spots and those spots only. Just because the bridge may be 3 miles long doesn’t mean the fish are all over it. They are typically only in a select few spots so find those spots and fish them.

Rivers:

Escambia Bay

Escambia Bay in Pensacola, FL

My favorite two rivers to fish this time of year here are the Escambia and Blackwater rivers. The both have an abundance of bait and the perfect bottom content to harbor those big Specks we all like to hunt. However fishing it can be a little different. I usually seek deep holes and large depth change contours in the river. These changes will hold a higher concentration of fish than the rest of the river. Speckled Trout will generally be on the bottom, nestled into the mud for warmth. Bait presentation is key here as well. Another very effective way to target Trout and Stripped Bass is to troll for them. I typically fish the mouth of the rivers and tributaries because it has the highest salt content. Use the same tactics as fishing the flats. So I would start there before moving on.

Inshore Fishing Skill Level Necessary
40%

On that note here are a few of my favorite lures for this time of year:

Offshore/Nearshore:

Gulf of Mexico Gray Triggerfish

Gulf of Mexico Gray Triggerfish

Offshore is a little slower this time of year but still not hard to find fish. There isn’t much you can legally keep per the Florida state law except for Triggerfish which are one of my favorite fish to eat and a few snapper species. There are an abundance of Triggerfish in state waters right now. You can go to any public wreck or reef and target them. Just don’t go specifically for Triggerfish, you are going to want to target some Mingo and Black Snapper while your out there. Make sure you watch your Raymarine electronics, most of these fish you will be seeking will be as close to the wreck as they can get. Use light tackle and smaller hooks for Triggerfish as their mouth isn’t very big. My favorite bait is squid wings and very small strips (2 inch) of Bonito belly. Don’t be scared to go offshore to find fish, pick a good weather day and get after it.

Offshore Fishing Skill Level Necessary
20%

 

Captain Chris
Born in Pensacola, Florida in 1983, Captain Chris cut his fishing teeth on the bays and backwaters of Pensacola Bay as well as the Alabama and Tensaw River System in south Alabama. When he wasn’t on the baseball diamond he was at home casting rubber plugs into buckets in his parents back yard. Little did he know that all this practice and preparation would undoubtedly prepare him for the career as a Professional Angler. Captain Chris graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University Of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida in 2007. Which he spent much of his early 20′s as a computer programmer while spending all his time and vacation chasing a dream of a Professional Tournament Angler and starting the ultra popular fishing guide service Fish Happens Outdoors based in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida. After much success in local and regional tournaments throughout the early 2000’s, he decided to jump into the world of professional tournament fishing and made a name for himself on the IFA Redfish Tour and the Louisiana Saltwater Series from 2007 to 2010. Finally in 2010 he saw his chance to change careers and pursue a dream. Captain Chris was invited to join the ultra exclusive invitation only tour, the become a full time pro and joined the Academy Sports & Outdoors Professional Redfish Series which was filmed specifically for air on the Sportsman’s Channel. Having success with several top 15 and a top 10 appearances in his rookie year. Captain Chris is always evolving as an angler and business owner, looking to improve his knowledge and hone his angling skills. You can always find him stalking the flats in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida or burning up the interstates on the tournament trail.
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