How To Find Fish In February
Find Fish In February
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
On that note here are a few of my favorite lures for this time of year:
- Z-Man Flatz Jig in the rootbeer gold color
- Z-Man Diezel ChatterBait in the bad shad color
- Z-Man Trout Trick in the fried chicken color
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.