Captain Terry Fisher

The wonderful thing about living or vacationing in SWFL is the year-round fishing opportunities due to our beautiful location and warm winter season. Each year thousands of visitors grace our shorelines to enjoy fishing for a variety of species, while enjoying time on the water with families and friends. Even the locals can’t seem to get enough of the boating and fishing activities that exist here while most of North America is covered with the chills of frost and snow.


My advice to all fishermen and women is to always fish the top half of an incoming or outgoing tide, which will provide more areas in which to fish. For the most part, our tide movements are  6 hours long for each incoming tide and/or outgoing tide. Moving water is the key to active feeding and plenty of bites. The fish are always around, keep moving until you locate them. All tide movement is effective for both inshore and offshore species. Just plan your day around the tide predictions for the areas in which one is wanting to fish. Monthly Tide Predictions are located in this Coastal Angler Magazine for each and every ‘Tide Station’ in our area. If you do not understand them, feel free to call me.


During the month of February, I recommend targeting a variety of species, but the prominent fish to target for inshore will be the sheepshead. These fish will be found around the ‘piles’, mangroves docks, rocks and seawalls. They are a fun, strong fish to catch for light tackle anglers and will offer up a tasty fish dinner. Rumor has it that these fish are ‘hard to catch’, but that is not true, as any fish is ‘hard to catch’ if they are not in an aggressive ‘eating’ mode. Large sheepshead seem to prefer stronger currents offering a good supply of bait flowing past their ‘holding’ locations, in the areas mentioned above. When smaller fish are biting there is a slim chance of catching the bigger ones. When the big ones are biting, load your cooler as the bite will revert to the smaller fish at some point. My suggestion is to move around until you find the larger ‘bite’. Shrimp or fiddler crabs are the basic baits for these fish.

Seatrout will offer a fun and fine day of fishing the grass flats in around 4’-7’ of water. Artificial baits such as plastic paddle tails, spoons and top waters will all work well for anglers, however, I find that nothing beats a shrimp on a weighted jig head under a popping cork. Everything that swims will consider this presentation. Work the grass flats until the school is located, then enjoy the catching. This species is plentiful and while fishing for them (same techniques), more likely than not, several by-catches of Spanish mackerel, Jack Crevalle, ladyfish and a pompano or two will round out the day.

Spanish mackerel will be migrating with the bait offshore and in the passes as well. Watch for diving birds. Consider using wire leader with a ‘stinger’ hook or beef up the monofilament to around a 30-50lb. test when targeting these guys. I prefer to slowly troll ¾ to 1oz silver spoons.

Snook will be found in the canals, under docks and around structure. Points of islands and bars are a good bet for these. Artificial presentations such as ‘twitch’ baits’, top water plugs and soft plastics are effective, but one needs a boat with a trolling motor to properly cover a number of fresh locations. Remember Captain Terry’s rule: Three artificial presentations in the same area and you’re OUT! Live bait such as shrimp and pinfish will work, but for me, live pilchards are the ‘go to’ baits.

Redfish in February can be difficult due to lower tides that restrict boat access to areas holding the fish. The best bet to get on some will be to try the docks around the passes, unless one has a skiff that can conquer shallow bars and get to the deeper holes that hold the fish. Redfish will hold from Naples to Sarasota in all areas, but access to the holes is the key.

Black Drum is a great fish to challenge in February. They will be under and around the docks of the passes, such as N. Captiva, Boca Grande and Matlacha Bridge. Fish for them with live or cut pinfish and shrimps.

Offshore, look for grouper, snappers and porgy’s to be in on the closer reefs along with other migratory species. The enemy to offshore trips in the winter month of February is the wind. Pick a day or two after windy conditions to go. Give the water energy from the winds time to settle down. Good Fishing!

This is Captain Terry Fisher of Fish Face Charters, LLC wishing everyone tight lines. Contact me for Captain for Hire (by the hour) on your vessel with navigation instructions, fishing locations and techniques that insure your every adventure is a success. I can be reached at 239-357-6829 or by email at Visit my website at for more information.