The winter continues as windy fronts pass through the area to stir up the beaches and river. However, there are still some great fishing opportunities inshore and near the coast. On windy mornings, we’ve been catching most snook along mangrove shorelines facing the sun. These are mostly 20-26” snook that can be lots of fun using light tackle spin or fly rods. The lures we’ve done best with are Gulp Swimming Mullet 4” white with red or chartreuse 1/4oz jig heads.
The Spanish Mackerel are still schooled up down at Peck’s Lake Beach. With calm conditons, it’s always fun to cruise the beach down there and chum them up with glass minnows and catch them every cast. My lures of choice are the Gulfstream Flash Minnows 3/8oz chartreuse color. These February mackerel are the smaller ones that you’ll see commercial fishermen cast-netting as they chum them up with glass minnows.
The baitfish can be hard to find in February, so the targeted fish can be rather hungry. In this case, chumming can draw fish immediately in search of food. Live minnow chum (1-2 inch pilchards) works best and can be caught using a 3/16” mesh cast net in current eddies near the inlet or in the shallows around the islands.
We’ve been catching black drum using live shrimp on double hook drop-rigs at the bridges. Mixed in with them are croakers and some keeper snapper.
We now carry mud minnows at my store, Stuart Angler. These baitfish are 3-5 inches long and survive extremely well in bait buckets or livewells. They are a “diving bait” which means they swim towards the bottom. This makes them a good bait to fish for snook, black drum, and more under the bridge abutments. The best way to hook the mud minnows is under their chin and out the top of their head, not too far back towards their eyes.