February is a make it or break month depending on the weather. If the winds are blowing and tides are low, the water is too cold for the fish to bite; don’t lose hope, because thanks to the hot water runoff of the power plants, February can be a most productive month. Snook, Redfish, Pompano, Jacks, Trout, Sharks, and Cobia are just a few of the species which invade the warm waters of the power plants.
Several things to take into consideration are water temperature and tides. 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 due to high pressure systems force fish into deeper waters and in search for warmer waters and self-preservation, giving the angler an advantage. Think of it as putting in a fish bowl for you to catch.
Where to Fish: Depending on where you fish dictates 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 hug and feed on the bottom. Here I use a small ¼-ounce egg sinker or jig head; if the current is stronger increase the size of the sinker or jig head tied to a 30-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Texas rig-style with a 1/0 to a 2/0 circle hook if I am using an egg sinker. Trout will tend to feed mid water in the center of the channel, and 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 and I use heavier tackle such as 40-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. Start your fishing as close to the hot water source as allowed and work your way towards the bay as the sun rises and bay water temperature increases.
Baits: Live shrimp is considered the favorite, and live greenbacks work well, if you can find them. Fiddler crabs can be found running along the shoreline on low tides and they make great baits for Pompano, Sheepshead, and Redfish. Another overlooked bait are sand fleas, a treat for Sheepshead.
Artificial Baits:Banana jigs are great for Pompano and Flounder. MirrOlure #52M11, medium runner bait is a killer on Trout and Jacks. Logic Lure makes a great jig that, worked slow on the bottom, will get some nice Snook and Redfish as will the old standby: three-inch D.O.A. shrimp.
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.
Best Times to Fish: My experience for the best time to fish has been from sunrise to 11 am 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.
February can be a fun month if you are prepared with the right tackle and willing to put up with some winds and cold weather.
Good fishing and tight lines.