February 2014 Fishing Forecast for Clearwater and Dunedin
As we move into February, the water temperatures have been colder than normal in the Clearwater and Dunedin fishing areas. After several cold fronts hit in January, the water temperature has been consistently below 60 degrees. Cold fronts are ok, but the fish like a warm up in between to get in their winter mood. Normal water temp this time of year is around 60 degrees. “Where is that Chamber of Commerce Florida Sunshine when you need it.”
Trout and redfish will be the major targets in the Clearwater and Dunedin waters for this month. Blue fish, pompano, sheepshead and black drum will also make an appearance in the shallows in February.
When looking for trout, drift around patchy grass and sand areas in three to five feet of water till trout are found. Stake out the location and fish that spot for additional catches. Live shrimp fished under a float is always a popular method for trout fishing and will net you some 24+ inch fish this winter. Also search along shell and rocky bottoms that are adjacent to deeper water grass flats for possible flounder and sheepshead. Don't invest too much time if there is no action. There are too many similar places that could be holding good numbers of fish.
Don’t pass up throwing artificial baits because these large gator trout have no problem slurping down a plastic jig.
In the winter time, I use a 1/16 oz. jig head with a 3 inch shad tail in the darker type colors. A root beer, darker shrimp and crab colors will most likely do the job. Just remember, it’s very important to slow your action down. The metabolism of winter fish has slowed down due to the cold water temps and they will not exert a lot of energy to chase down live or artificial baits that are moving too fast.
Looking for redfish may be a time consuming affair because of our pesky cold fronts. The fish will be scattered around the back waters and mangroves if you care to search. Don’t forget the docks. Throwing live shrimp under docks is a great way to find the reds. But keep moving, all docks are not created equal. In the past, I found a school of about 50 to 75 redfish back in the shallows in February, and they hung out in the same area for two months. We caught quite a few slot size fish free lining live shrimp. Once you locate a school of redfish, use a stealth approach because they will be very skittish.
Dodging the cold fronts and getting out fishing in February, can be a little iffy but also can be very productive. It may take a little more searching than normal, but it will pay off when you find the fish.
Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website: www.allcatchcharters.com
Capt. Gary Burch