February Gulf of Mexico Fishing Forecast
Capt. Dave Pinkham
January 29, 2010
Venice - Saltwater Fishing Report
I consider the month of February to be the heart of winter down here along Florida's south west coast. The gulf's water temperature is dipping down below 60 degrees and most of the offshore fishing action will be concentrated on the bottom. There are always exceptions to any rule, so with this in mind be prepared to cross paths with other species such as shark, little tunny, Greater amberjack, and maybe even a smoker kingfish.
Following is a list of some of the species of fish we target on the gulf this month. Although grouper fishing is very good right now the season to keep them is closed. With this grouper closure in mind anglers will have to broaden their targeted fish if they want to take a few home for dinner.
- Mangrove snapper, yellow tail snapper, lane snapper, American red snapper, trigger fish, and other reef species such as porgie and white grunt will be hanging around just about any type of hard bottom. Look for action with these species on areas such as the artificial reefs, natural ledges, or any other hard bottom structure you can locate. Lighter tackle baited up with shrimp or cut bait will often get these excellent eating fish turned on and feeding.
- Greater Amberjack fishing will be good this month. These fish get large upwards to 80-pounds, so if you are hoping for big action the AJ's are the fish to target. Amberjack like to school over and around the deeper shipwrecks, ledges, and springs out past 90-feet of water. Quite often the water visibility is clear at this range so a frisky baitfish may be what it takes to excite these big game fish into hitting. . The same areas that hold the schooling AJ's will also attract other large species such as blackfin tuna, shark, Goliath grouper, and cobia you never know what may take your bait.
- Banded rudder fish look a lot like a small amberjack but don't need to be nearly as big to keep. This time of year I have run across large schools of them on some of the offshore ledges. This hard fighting fish makes for lots of fun and fast action for everyone aboard, and they make a great fish for a cookout. I would suggest always bringing a current fish regulation and identification book with pictures of the fish. This way you can be sure to tell the difference between the Banded rudder fish and the Greater amberjack.
- King and Spanish mackerel have mostly moved south of us, although there may still be a few stragglers around. This really depends on just how cold the gulf is this month. If you start having unexplained cutoffs then there's a good chance it's mackerels, shark, or bluefish.
Remember, if you're too busy to go fishing you're just too busy! Get out and go fishin cuz' it's good fer ya!
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