Hello everyone, it’s time to be seeing black and white; black and white stripes on a Sheepshead that is. February is when our Nature Coast Sheepshead season is going strong. Just about every piece of hard bottom from 5ft of water to 30ft of water will be holding concentrations of Sheepshead. This time of year begins their spawning period for the next couple of months and they are quite aggressive. Small shrimp or small pieces of shrimp on knocker rigs around the various structures are all that’s needed for success. I always strongly encourage keeping just a couple, as I stated earlier they are spawning. Myself and several other guides that target Sheepshead, area only keep 5 a person, instead of the overwhelming 15 a person that is the law. I truly believe this will keep our winter time fishery going strong for years to come and we all know how tricky cleaning a Sheepshead is anyway.
For the trout fisherman, think hard bottom as well. Trout will be staging in holes and depression adjacent to rock bars, rock flats and oyster bars. Slow suspending plugs and soft plastics, are ideal lures for targeting them. If you find one trout, there will generally be more in the same area; so work the area thoroughly and slowly.
On the 20knt NE wind days, that February is known for; sometimes you can’t leave the safety and comfort of the river. That being said, a couple dozen shrimp, jig heads and a rocky point with current flow; can save the day. One can have a mixed bag catch and only burn a couple gallons of gas. Black drum, mangrove snapper, trout, and red fish can all be found in the same areas. Depending on the frequency and intensity of the fronts, fish closer to the head waters of the rivers on the chilly days and towards the river mouths if it’s been warm for quite a while.
I always like to mention, if it just to cold or the weather is to lousy, do a little maintenance in preparation for spring. Service the engine and boat trailer, clean up the tackle box and re spool those reels with some fresh line. Most everyone is using some type of braided line these days. Keep in mind, you can reverse the line on your reels and save a few $$$$; if you want to take time to do so. Good Fishing!