Fort Pierce Offshore Fishing Report and Forecast: February 2015

Fort Pierce Kingfish
Tanner Dashner with a nice kingfish caught on a trolled blue runner. This was Tanner’s first ever offshore catch, and now he is hooked on bigger fish! PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Danny Markowski.

Snapper will be on the catch list for February. Snapper of many varieties will be around reefs, wrecks and structures. These fish will be anywhere in the ocean from the 10 feet depth to the deeper waters of 125 feet and farther.

On the Treasure Coast there are a variety of snapper that are legal to keep and all great to eat. Among these are lane, mangrove, mutton and sometimes even yellowtail snappers. The lane and mangrove snapper will be holding close to the edge of structure.  You can hook them up on a smaller live sardine or dead baits such as a sardine plug, squid or a chunk of ballyhoo. Even a nice hand-picked shrimp will be appetizing to these fish.

As far as equipment goes, I use light 10-pound tackle if I am fishing the beach to 25- to 30-pound tackle if fishing depths to 100 foot. Mutton snapper are a great fight and grow to sizes of 12- to 13-pounds. Mutton snapper are found around structure but normally they will be holding 10 to 20 feet away.  They will be on the down current side in sandy areas. Mangrove snapper can also be caught from the beach along the reefs on out to 150 feet depths. When targeting mutton snapper, I prefer a lively sardine or a big piece of squid.  Mutton snapper will bump the bait a couple of times before eating, so a good rule is to count to seven before reeling.

Yellowtail snapper are in this area but not near as big as down in South Florida. These fish are normally found in 70 to 90 feet depths over structure. Unlike other snapper, yellowtail will be suspended above structure, typically 5 to 15 feet above.  Lighter tackle in the 10- to 20-pound range is recommended for yellowtail snapper. Use a weight big enough to get your bait down but not all the way to the bottom. Yellowtail will eat about any kind of dead bait cut into smaller chunks.  Chum is a good thing to use to get these fish into a feeding mood. I prefer to put a weight in the chum bag or basket and put it at the depth of the fish.

The possibility of catching a red snapper is there, but if you land one, please release the fish unharmed.  Red snapper are out of season so they are not legal to keep.  Depending on what you are catching, please review and know the size limits and fish per person limits, as well as the regulations for our region (Rules and regulations for snapper are different on Florida’s west coast).

Have a great time on the water and good luck.

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