February has become my best inshore month for sea trout and redfish since the grass beds of the central lagoon have diminished in recent years. Both trout and reds make their way into the shallow backwater bays in search of warmth and food in the latter part of the winter and early spring. Sight-fishing can be excellent in these areas where winds are blocked and waters stay clean. Pompano, bluefish, ladyfish and jacks are also targets for inshore anglers.
First, let us talk redfish. You need to find a flat or mangrove shoreline with enough water to float your boat or a hard enough bottom for you to wade. Then drift, pole or trolling motor very quietly throwing a weedless gold spoon, 4-inch D.O.A. jerk bait or tipped skimmer jig and cover as much area as possible. If the water is gin clear you can sight fish along the mangrove shorelines and pitch live shrimp, D.O.A. shrimp or flies to reds hanging around the pockets and points formed by the mangrove roots.
For trout fishing, we have to divide trout into two categories, over 18 inches and under18 inches. Smaller trout are generally found in deeper open water areas usually relating specifically to a drop-off. Spoil island banks, sandbars, edges of flats, natural and manmade channels, these are good places to work a jig, D.O.A. shrimp, small diving plug or live shrimp to stay busy with small to keeper size trout. Bigger trout will be on the flats sunning themselves and ambushing the larger baits they prefer on all but the coldest days. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to catch these gators when you find them. One out of a hundred may take a live shrimp or properly placed artificial if you see them before they see you. I take note of areas where I see numbers of these big trout and come back another day when I have some wind or cloud cover and wade fish the area or anchor the boat upwind and hope with some help from wind and current I can float a live shrimp through the area. D.O.A. Shrimp, Mirro-lure Catch 2000 Jr.’s, small top-water plugs and handpicked shrimp on a short leader below a small float will take these bigger fish. Be quiet, stay low and cast long. Investing in a pair of waders can pay great dividends this time of year. Wade fishing spoil islands, flats edges and sunny shorelines with live shrimp, flies and artificials can lead to some of the best catches of the year. Use the wind and current to make long casts and natural drifts to get into gator trout and reds.
Take a kid fishing this February.