Once again the fishing action along the Nature Coast continues to amaze me. Historically, February can be a banner month for a variety of species along the Nature Coast especially Redfish and Speckled Trout, however, with the added benefit of unseasonably warm weather the exotic species that we are targeting at the moment is what has been the major draw for my visiting anglers.
In recent years February water temperatures have struggled to remain any where near the 60 degree mark that is so coveted for this time of year. Fast Forward to 2013 and with a constant water temperature of 66 degrees many migratory species have inundated our local flats earlier than ever before. Bonito, Gag Grouper, Permit, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder and even Tripletail are roaming our local flats at the moment. With the added increase in bait over the last few weeks and warmer weather on the way most species are staying put even in between the mild passing cold fronts. The oddity of this occurrence is a welcomed sign, but one has to wonder what this will mean for the rest of the year. Might our Tarpon migration arrive a bit earlier than normal?
With all the added benefits of warmer weather and an abundance in different migratory species many banner fishing days have been recorded this month and many more will be on the way. My angler Todd Dobrinsky of Lady Lake, FL experienced one of these incredible days this month. We started our morning off with a beautiful sunrise that was highlighted by a few dolphins feeding on mullet during the boat ride out. Upon landing on our first crystal clear flat Todd’s first cast with a Berkley Gulp Jig was inhaled by a nice 17” Speckled Trout. For the next 2 hours Todd and I made a couple of drifts landing close to 40 Trout before deciding to switch gears. Our next stop was on some of the shallow rocks, wrecks, and reefs that have made our area famous in recent years. Our main target was Sheepshead but it became apparent very quickly that the Sheepshead were going to have to work very hard to get passed the Spanish Mackerel and Gag Grouper. In total Todd and I fished 3 rocks for 6 Sheepshead, 4 Spanish Mackerel, 2 Flounder and over 20 Grouper including a 10lb Whopper on light tackle. Needless to say this is the kind of action that makes our area so famous (and I didn’t even mention the school of 50 30lb+ Black Drum we couldn’t get to bite).
Finally, to cap off one of the most exotic winters on record, the fresh water Bass fishing in the Crystal River is also starting to heat up. Normally, our fresh water rivers are often over looked due to the amount of Big Bass Lakes that we have scattered around our county, but this time of year the Bass Fishing can be a great alternative on less than stellar weather days or be an added bonus during a saltwater outing. The Bass in the Crystal River are in a pre spawn mode, working on their beds and are more than willing to take a well presented Shiner, Lure, and even flies. Nothing is more exciting in freshwater than watching a Largemouth Bass smoke a topwater popper on fly, just ask Bobbi Cox who had the opportunity to experience this for the first time during one of our most recent fishing trips.
An in all Great weather has equaled great fishing and with our Spring season right around the corner why not think about a Florida Fishing Adventure during your next vacation plans.