Paddle Power in February 2021

February is always an interesting month for us fishing the Central East Coast of Florida in kayaks. It can be considered the end of winter and spring settles in quickly. This year seems to be normal for cooler winters like we have had. With this significantly cooler weather we will see many species on the inshore waters look to find deeper warmer waters where they are safe from temperatures dipping too low. One of the most notable of our fish that will do this is the spotted seatrout. In danger of cold water kill offs, they are super smart. The largest trout will hole up in these areas and only leave when the threat of freezing temps is gone and when the urge to partake in the spring spawn becomes too strong for resistance.

Large trout that are over 24 inches are more of a solitary fish, but cooler waters will bring these fish together as deeper holes are at a premium on our lagoons. February can be a great month to target them for some amazing catch and release action! These large fish are 100% females and as the matriarchs are the cornerstone of our trout populations, they deserve a pass from the grease pan. Look for areas adjacent to deeper canals and holes that have shallow muddy (preferred) bottoms that will warm quickly as the sun rises. This gives the biggest trout an opportunity to sun and warm themselves then look for a little bite to eat. Unlike the springtime trout bite when warming waters and an influx of bait send pre-spawn trout on the feed with reckless abandon. These February fish will be looking for something a little more subtle than the go to spring topwater lures that get so many great bites. Soft plastics or even a nice live shrimp will be your best baits. With a 3-to-5-inch paddle tail like the SST series of plastics rigged on a jig head or weedless being my top choice. Typically, I look to use more natural colors and slowly roll these baits across the bottom. Not only is our lure choice for these fish a little different than in the warmer months, but our prime fishing time alters as well. It’s well known that the best time for those big trout in the warm water is at daybreak and you might not even have a bite after 9 am. For the cool water fish, we sometimes won’t even hit the water until 9 am with the best bite happening as the sun warms those suitable areas. Large seatrout are a bucket list fish no doubt and you would be surprised how many of them come on kayak fishing charters in February.