Jim Klopfer’s Fishing Report
Adventure Charters 941-371-1390
February is the last month of winter here in Sarasota. There will be days when it feels like spring is in the air. But, weather patterns will still be unstable, and fishing will follow suit. Being flexible and understanding how weather affects fish behavior will be the key to angling success this month. On many mornings the tide will be very low, especially with a hard northeast wind following a cold front. Under these conditions, fishing the afternoon high tide is often a better choice. Also, avoid the areas near the passes after a blow, the cold and dirty water is not conducive to success.
One species that anglers can count on most every trip in February is sheepshead. They bite better in cold, dirty water than most other species do. Also, redfish, black drum, and flounder will be caught on the same structure and using the same techniques that are effective for sheepies. Basically, any structure will attract sheepshead. From the rocks at the west end to the Siesta Drive Bridge on the eastside, the north end of Siesta Key is a great area to fish. Deep water, docks, rocks, seawalls, and rip-rap will attract and hold fish. All of the bridges and docks in both Big Pass and New Pass may hold fish, as well as the docks and oyster bars south to Albee Rd.
The preferred rig is a #1 live baithook with a 24” piece of 20 lb. leader and just enough weight to hold bottom. Live and frozen shrimp, fiddler crabs, sand fleas, and oyster worms are the top baits. Shrimp are the easiest bait to obtain and work great. Sheepshead bite very lightly. Usually, it starts with several light “taps”. It is important not to move the bait at all, the fish will sense that something is wrong. Instead, wait for a steady pull, then reel fast and raise the rod tip sharply.
Anglers fishing from Siesta Key beaches should do well when the surf is clear. Whiting will be abundant and silver trout, flounder, pompano, sheepshead, ladyfish and other species will hit live or frozen shrimp fished near the bottoms.
The deeper grass flats all throughout the area will be productive for speckled trout this month. Incoming tides a couple hours before high tide are usually the best times to fish. Again, avoid the areas around the passes when dirty water is present. Bass Assasin jigs, suspending plugs, gold spoons, and live shrimp under a popping cork are all effective baits. Pompano, jack crevelle, ladyfish, and bluefish all feed over the deep grass.
Snook will be found in area rivers, creeks and residential canals, along with redfish, drum, flounder, sheepshead, and jacks. Jerk baits scented soft plastics, and live shrimp will all produce fished near structure in creeks and canals. We are shaping up to have an actual “winter”, this should trigger a river snook migration.
Captain Brian Boehm Fishing Report
CB’s Saltwater Outfitters 941-349-4400
Flats fishing in the inshore waters around CB’s Saltwater Outfitters in Sarasota, FL continues to provide exciting action for anglers fishing on charters with Quiet Waters Fishing. We connected with some large jack crevalle while throwing plugs on the flats on a recent trip. Jacks have been moving down the ICW and spilling out onto flats where they ravage mullet and other small forage fish. These fish are powerful and fast. The commotion they make while feeding is quite a sight. When they hang around for a bit, you have the opportunity for multiple hookups on light tackle.
Snook fishing has been best at night on dock lights and in the day up our brackish rivers. Dock lights continue to be a great place to catch snook right now. Anglers willing to go out after dark in search of these fish are being rewarded with snook of all sizes. This is the time of year when a fly rod can really out fish traditional tackle on dock lights. We’re still doing well with snook using gurglers in the back country. The few snook we encountered on the flats were caught on jigs with paddle tails.
Redfish of all sizes continue to be plentiful in the waters around Sarasota, FL. We found them in a variety of locations over the last week. Broken edges of mangrove islands, sandbars, and potholes all held fish. Getting skinny in our brackish rivers is not a bad option either. Mirrolure lil johns and paddletails on jig heads were better options than spoons over the last week. Redfish remained on dock lights and are best observed either vacuuming the bottom or charging through the lights. They are normally willing eaters on dock lights.
We’re still catching seatrout on the Mirrolure Mirrodine XL, but paddle tails on jig heads produced higher numbers. The Mirrodine XL seems to work best on bigger fish, it does a great job of triggering larger seatrout to come off the bottom to eat. If you’re into numbers, then gowith soft plastics and fish the deeper grass. We found areas of deep grass holding good numbers of class-size seatrout. If you’re working to find big seatrout, then go with an XL or a soft plastic profile that offers a larger meal. The pattern on larger seatrout changed during the warm up and they were more difficult to find. The fresh cold front, currently ripping through our area, should put larger seatrout into more predictable patterns.
This cold front should send fish back into winter patterns. Delaying fishing departure times until later in the morning can make a significant difference. Waiting for the sun to get a bit higher in the sky gives the shallow water more time to warm up and for the fish to become more active. Deeper canals should provide some decent action on cold mornings. Shallow water with dark bottom will warm quickly on cold mornings and some areas will be holding fish. Redfish and seatrout will be less impacted by the cold than snook.