February 2013 Fishing Tips and Forecast
This time of year in the Clearwater and Dunedin fishing areas, through late December, January and February, the low tides create an excellent opportunity to find fish. Cold fronts will push through every week or two and sometimes even twice a week. These weather conditions will produce extreme low tides especially around a new or full moon. The strong northwest and northeast winds push a lot of water out of Clearwater and Dunedin bays and at low tide expose grassy bottoms and oyster beds in the back waters, canals and mangrove cuts. The deeper holes adjacent to these high and dry areas may be holding lots of fish. So don’t frown going fishing on a low tide, while checking out the deeper areas, you may find your honey hole.
Redfish and trout have been our targets this winter and when found, they are very lethargic and spooky. A very stealthy approach should be used at every location.
I've had good results catching big gator trout in Clearwater Bay using 1/16 oz. jig heads with Cal Shad Tails in darker colors and Mister Twister Paddle tails in root beer with sparkle. Barracuda Bob’s Bait and Tackle on Dunedin Causeway has a huge selection of the most popular artificials for catching redfish and trout.
The key to catching big gator trout on artificials is to drift along spotty grass and sand areas, like the ones north of Dunedin Causeway, making long cast and retrieving very slowly. Let that jig brush along the bottom and through the grass. Also let the jig stop for a few seconds before continuing. Most likely the strike will come at this moment. Fish are not going to move very far or too quickly in the colder water to feed. So slow it down and take your time.
Redfish will be scattered in shallow water flats up next to land areas and mangroves in the Dunedin fishing area. If you find them at lower tides in the deeper holes, follow the fish as they move up on the flats and closer to oyster beds as the tide rises. The bite is slow, but they should eat a live shrimp, cut bait or a variety of artificials.
Don't let the Florida cold fronts keep you high and dry. After the front passes, we usually have the best weather in the country. There is plenty of opportunity to get out and catch fish during the winter months.
Capt. Gary Burch