Target Cold Tolerant Species in February By: Capt. Mike Anderson

February is the month I target sheepshead, speckled trout and redfish as they are all very cold water tolerant and remain easy targets even in winter. Normally cold windy conditions this month drop water temps and make some species less active.

Use live shrimp or artificial baits that you can work slowly for best results this month. Shrimp digest much easier and faster than pilchards or mullet and with the cold water slowing down the metabolism of most fish, shrimp are an excellent bait choice.

For sheepshead I like to tail hook a live shrimp on a quarter ounce jighead and pitch them under docks or near bridge pilings. Use a jighead with a small hook if possible, they don’t call sheepshead convict fish for no reason! Sheepshead will pick even the most seasoned anglers clean from time to time. This tactic will work on redfish as well, target dock lines that are older and adjacent to deeper water, as this gives the redfish a safe travel path and the safety of deep water if water temps should suddenly plummet.

As for speckled trout, they are probably the most active and easiest to catch in a variety of ways. My favorite trout tactic is to throw soft plastic paddle tail baits like the MirrOlure Marsh Minnow on a quarter ounce jighead. Working deeper grass flats you can cover a lot of water and get your bait in front of a lot more fish which increases your opportunities to hook up. Live shrimp will work under a popping cork as well.

Target grass flats in the four to eight foot depths; I tend to find better concentrations of fish on the lower tides when using this method. Moving water is always a key as is trying to find slightly warmer areas, even a two degree temperature difference can turn the bite on. To try and locate warmer waters, try targeting areas with darker bottoms as they tend to warm the fastest on sunny days.

February weather can sometimes be challenging, but targeting the right species with the right bait can make all the difference out there.

Catch Captain Michael Anderson on Saturdays for Reel Animals Saturday on 970WFLA from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., and on Sunday mornings on AM620 for the TA Mahoney Co. Reel Animals Radio Show from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

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