February is here and it’s all about the water temperature and the tide height. I spend a good bit of my time planning my trips around the low incoming tide this month because gamefish get concentrated and are easier to locate. Also, I prefer to get a little later start with clients to so we can take advantage of the warmest portion of the day when water temperature rise and stimulate redfish appetites!
In addition, anglers can count on bigger trout to reside on most shallow grassy flats in the lower region of Tampa Bay along with some snook action on the warming trends near river and creek mouths in the eastern edge of the Bay down to Terra Ceia.
Here’s some of the action you can expect in the shallows:
Trout- It’s definitely Paul Brown Lure time! These baits catch more trophy size Sea Trout for me than any other lure consistently! Work these baits especially the Lil Devil and Original Floater version over and around, sandy potholes and oyster bars with a very slow tempo on the low incoming tides… action is inevitable. Other baits you might want to have for this scenario are the Zman Jerk Shadz or Deizel Minnowz both work great on a keel weighted rigging hook. Best colors are those with a darker back and lighter belly color for contrast…
Redfish- Sight fishing these copper bruisers is on fire during the negative tides! I prefer throwing Zman Crabz and Shrimpz to these redfish who wave their tails in the shallows. Look for productive flats with lots of wading bird activity and you’ll be on the right path. If you can locate some mudding mullet, it’s almost a guarantee that the redfish will be more receptive to your presentations because they’re pretty spooky in the clear water! Colors that work best are earthy Browns and greens this time of year…
Sheepshead- On the coldest days when the shallow flats are a desert, these fish are a great play in the residential canal systems throughout the Bay. And yes, this will require live shrimp and a small #1 hook with a split shot for weight. Sheepshead get very frisky in February and provide fantastic action on cold windy days when nothing else is going on with the flats game.
Snook- You definitely have to get into the backcountry that has some deeper creeks to catch some snook now. They do come out and sit on some shallow mud flats later in the day and can be caught on the warming trends on dark colored jigs or plugs like the Zman Minnows or Catch Jr. but gotta move’m slow. Keep an eye on your water temps and look for the snook to fire up when you get water temps closer to 70 degrees in the backcountry. On those warm-ups try working a Z-Man Swimmerz high on the surface for some explosive strikes!
Here’s a quick reminder, I’ll be doing a special edition of Flats Class on March 7th at Tampa Fishing Outfitters with Mirrolure’s Eric Bachnik… there’s no charge for this event!
But you will need to register by phone with Tampa Fishing Outfitters to reserve your seat because it’s going to be limited to about 75 students. Call 813.870.1234 to reserve.
Until next time, keep them rods bent!