Look For Whiting for Rod-Bending Winter Action
It’s hard to go from a full, drawn-out hunting season into a seamless angling opportunity without expecting a few missteps. February fishing success can take a little adjustment to get back in the groove. Even though February can be tough, people can always take advantage of a few opportunities. Let’s look at a couple of those options now.
During the month of February, there might be almost no other fish as reliable as the dependable whiting. Whiting run along the surf on the Alabama Gulf Coast beaches. While the fish rarely exceed two pounds, whiting are one of the best eating fish that can be caught right off the beach, without the aid of a boat. Whiting will readily hit a variety of baits. A small section of dead shrimp, impaled on a small hook, will be the most efficient way to hook up with whiting. Whiting will also hit small pieces of squid, sand fleas and even artificial baits.
Fishbites are small strips of scented material that can fool hungry whiting. Simply thread them on a small hook and toss out into the surf. Depending on wave action, you should size an appropriate pyramid sinker to keep your bait from rolling down the beach.
Speckled trout are a year-round target for inshore anglers, but the month of February causes challenges for trout anglers. Finding decent water with enough salinity can be the difference between success or failure when trout fishing.
One of the most reliable fisheries for specks and redfish in February is Fish River. The area is protected from a lot of run-off and holds fish when many places can’t or don’t. Anglers slow-trolling soft plastic grubs behind their boats in Fish River can usually find fish around the small islands of the river. Chartreuse curly tail Got-Cha trailers combined with a 1/4-ounce red leadhead jig is the ticket for success this month.
Dog River is also a great place to locate speckled trout in February. Specks will cruise up and down the channel in the river looking for an easy meal. Finfish will be the primary food source, so adjust your baits accordingly. Slow sinking baits, such as the MirrOdine, will up your chances for success.
Another bait that has gained popularity with local fishing guides is the Slick Lure. The Slick Lure is a slow-sinking jerkbait designed to fish shallow flats near deep-water sanctuaries. When the trout come out to play in the shallows after a morning warm-up, the Slick Lures can be deadly, especially on larger fish.
Lots of coastal sportsman will just be recovering from a hard hunting season and fishing offshore in February will one of the last things on their minds. Brian Rowe of Mobile, on the other hand, is chomping at the bit to get offshore to gather up some “party groceries” when the weather is right.
“We like to cook out at our house and one of our guests’ favorites is blackened fish. We love both amberjacks and scamp blackened to perfection, combined with a good cold drink,” Rowe said.
Rowe and his crew size up the weather and take off in search of fish when the weather is pretty and safe. “We like to target the deep water, rigs in water deeper than 200 feet. We use diamond jigs in the 6- to 10-ounce size fished close to the rig legs. We also use live croakers, six inches or less to tempt grouper,” Rowe explained.
After arriving at structure in more than 300 feet of water, the Rowe Fishing Team will start targeting yellow-edge grouper. “We switch to natural dead baits, such as butterflied pogies or hardtails, that the yellow-edge seem to prefer,” Rowe said.
All in all, this sounds like a pretty good February plan to me!
Finding relatively clean water will be the key to finding bass this month in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. This usually means seeking out the clearest waters in delta creeks. Soft plastics and creature baits fish slowly along cover can result is small bags of bass, but you just never know. Concentrate on drains leading from the marsh to the creeks. Small shallow-running crankbaits, in crawfish colors can sometimes trigger a good bite on bass waiting for food to spill out of the drains.
Bass will also be very agreeable in small private ponds and lakes this month. Try out the north ends of the lakes, which tend to get clear early and warm up sooner than the southern ends. These bass are usually very aggressive towards the end of the month. Small Beetle Spin lures work well on these aggressive bass. Plastic fluke baits in white are exceptionally effective on these bass early in the year.
February is a month of multiple cold fronts. When these fronts blow through, the water levels will drop in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. At that time, bass will cluster around any wood structure in the creeks leading from shallow bays. Bass are easy pickings with a cane pole and a live shiner during these low-water periods.
Crappie should still be available in several coastal creeks. Hall’s Mill, Fowl River and Bay Minette Creek should all be holding crappie around structure such as old stumps, boat docks, etc. Use live minnows around the structure or “sling-shot” your small spinnerbait underneath the dock or pier to reach the crafty crappie!
Sure, fishing conditions can be tough this month, but if you stick it out, you can control your fishing destiny. See you on the water!