February’s Best Bet… Light tackle and Fly fishing the crystal clear waters along the white sand beaches from Pensacola to Destin. Pick and choose the right days to go, don’t waste your time if it’s not clear skies and light north winds and a good incoming tide and you’ll have the perfect conditions. Make sure you have your Oakley polarized sunglasses – they sure do make seeing the fish a lot easier. Once the sun gets high enough so that you can see the fish, stay as far out from the beach as you can and still see the bottom in 2 to 3 feet of water. Drift, push pole or trolling motor if you’re moving, or anchor and let the fish come to you. Running the outboard is going to alert the fish that you’re there trying to catch them.
Next you’ll want to tackle up accordingly. Use 10 pound test spinning outfits for the Little Tunny, 20 pound set ups for the Bull Reds and Black Drum. Fly casters, 8 weights and 10 weights, will get the job done. I use mostly floating lines, although I’ll have a sinking line at the ready for the fish in 10 foot or deeper water. For the spin fishermen, have a small silver spoon or a glass minnow type jig tied on for the Little Tunny fly casters. There’s only one, Gummy Minnow. Little Tunny are sought-after as a sport fish due to its line-stripping 40 mph runs and hard fighting ability when hooked. For the Bull Reds and Black Drum I’ll use several different lures to try and fool them. One of my favorites is a ¾ to 1 ounce SPRO buck tail jig in the Magic Bus color.
Boat position and control is one of the most important things to focus on, especially when moving. Being able to see the fish is the most important thing to practice. Once you are skilled at seeing the fish and putting the boat in the right place the rest is a piece of cake! The fish are there for one reason – FOOD, and if you do your part right they will eat.
For the State Water reef fishermen, catching table fare is going to be slow. Nothing is open in February – pretty much all catch and release. I’ll still be dropping to the bottom structure for a Flounder here and there but that’s about it.
Spring Break starts the first of March and so do the Sheepshead. Emails and phone calls are on the rise over the last 2 weeks. It won’t be long before spring is in the air!