February Fishing Report
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Winter, spring, what time of year is it? This has been one heck of a nice winter, well if you can call it that. I just left the shallow water flats and my temperature gauge was reading 74 degrees. Now that is in shallow water late in the afternoon, but who cares, that is far above what it needs to be to catch a lot of Snook. That is what I have made my primary target the last week and a half. Why not, they are one of our favorite fish to catch in these parts and although you can't keep them right now there has been plenty of keeper Redfish and Trout mixed in with them.
Most of the Snook are ranging in the 22inch class. The largest we've been getting is about 32 inches. There is a lot of nice Snook out there right now, which is generally the case in early spring like conditions. What's really nice is while fishing for Snook we have been limiting out on perfect size Redfish in the 22 to 26 inch class. Some better days we have been landing over 30 Snook and Reds during a trip, along with a pile of Trout.
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Trout fishing is excellent right now. If you want a trophy you probably couldn't pick a better time. Water temp from 68 to 72 is when we generally catch our largest Trout of the year. I have been getting nice ones mixed in with the Snook and Reds, but if we need to put some meat in the boat I fish areas that are just predominantly Trout spots and we have been killing the Trout from 18 to 26 inches. A lot of perfect keepers are out there in the 18 to 19 inch range. A few of the spots I have been fishing it's hard to catch them small enough since you are only allowed to have one over 20 inches per person. It's so much fun to get in those schools of monster Trout all over 20 inches. They fight pretty well and they just crush the bait sometimes when they hit.
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Inshore has been my primary game. It's just so good I have had few people asking to venture offshore. The last day I was out there though the Gage Grouper bite had been really good. As usual there are a ton of Red Grouper out there. We did get to catch some Mackerel and lost a few Kingfish. Some of the wrecks are holding some Cobia as well.
Well that pretty much sums it up. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know it's time to be out there fishing. I have a few spots open this spring if anyone is interested. Also now is the time to get your Tarpon charters finalized as my dates are going quickly.
Hope you all enjoy my report, now I need to go and get the boat ready for tomorrow so good luck fishing.
Capt. Matt Ercoli
About The Author: Captain Matt Ercoli
Company: Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters
Area Reporting: Tampa Bay to Sarasota Florida
Bio: Capt. Matt Ercoli is a premier Florida Gulf coast fishing guide and 1999 Saltwater Flats National Champion. He has assisted clients to five IGFA world records. Capt. Matt's experience and knowledge of local waters assures a successful day of fishing. Whether you prefer light tackle fishing or you're a fly-fishing purist, Capt. Matt can accommodate you. Fishing possibilities include the clear saltwater flats and mangrove backcountry from Tampa Bay & St. Petersburg to Sarasota; fishing for tarpon, snook, redfish and trout. If your preference is offshore fishing, there is permit, kingfish, grouper, little tunny, shark and more.