Capt. Sergio’s Corner

Turn On the Heat

The winds are blowing, tides are low and the water is too cold for the fish to bite right now.

But don’t lose hope, thanks to the hot water runoff from the power plants; February can be a productive month. Snook, redfish, pompano, grouper, jacks, trout, sharks and cobia are just a few of the species which invade the warm waters of power plants.

Each power plant has its own restrictions on where you are allowed to fish, so follow their rules and you can enjoy some great fishing all winter long.

Remember, the lower the water temperature the better the bite, and combined with low tides you have the perfect ingredients for a successful fishing trip. The low winter tides from high pressure systems force fish into deeper waters in search of warmth.

In my experience, the best time to fish has been from sunrise to 10 a.m. depending on cloud cover. On cloudy days you can stretch it a couple of extra hours and on bright sunny days, maybe less. Once the sun’s rays start to warm the water, the fish have a tendency to move towards the outer edges of the channel and even into deeper flats to feed, and return again at sunset.

Where you fish will dictate how you are going to fish. When fishing the center of the channel, you will find that fish such as snook, flounder, pompano and redfish tend to feed on the bottom. Here I use a small quarter ounce egg sinker, if the current is strong I will use a heavier weight. I’ll also use 20 pound test fluorocarbon leader Texas rigged with a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook.

Trout will tend to feed mid water in the center of the channel. Here I free line the bait with no sinkers or use a Cajun Thunder float with the bait suspended about four feet under it.

Cobia and sharks prefer the surface; I use heavier tackle like 30 pound fluorocarbon leader and 2/0 to 3/0 circle hooks. As the sun rises the fish will tend to migrate to the edges of the channels and eventually to the mouth of the channel and into the flats.

Live shrimp is the favorite bait this time of year. Small blue crabs and live greenbacks also work well if you can find them.

If you’re using artificials, banana jigs are great for pompano and flounder and MirrOlure’s #52M11 medium runner bait is a killer on trout and jacks.  Logic Lures and D.O.A. shrimp worked slowly on the bottom will get some nice snook and redfish. Deep running plugs like Mann’s Stretch 15’s work great when slow trolled along the edges of the channel, I have caught many a grouper doing this method.

Structure scan or side scan depending on the brand you have can give you the upper hand on finding where the fish are. I have a Lowrance HDS12 with structure scan and I can find a small rock or structure often missed with your standard sonar.

  1. Silver Trout
  2. Lucien Durecy with a power plant grouper

Captain Sergio Atanes is a native resident of Tampa and has been fishing the water of Tampa Bay and Boca Grande for over 40 years. He is the host of the TV and Radio Show Fishing Adventures USA.  Capt. Sergio Atanes can be reached at (813) 973-7132 –