Persistence and paying attention to details may hold the key for coastal anglers to boat more fish this month.
Winter keeps trying to hang on this month, but a hint of spring can light the fires in coastal anglers hearts as they anticipate what might happen if it warms early. February can be a fickle wench, with cold fronts still able to chill the bones of anglers while it chills the coastal waters. Coastal anglers must be able to adjust to the weather to put fish in the boat. Let’s look at a few places to try.
February is still a month to think deep, with a few exceptions. Speckled trout and white trout will be holding in the deep slips along the Mobile River near Downtown Mobile. Trout will be seeking sanctuary and salinity. The large, deep slips provide both. Be prepared to concentrate in waters 15-20 feet deep when it’s cold. Use plastic grubs, fished slowly along the bottom. You’ll probably need at least a 3/8 oz. jighead to maintain contact with the bottom.
As always, Theodore Canal will be holding nice speckled trout along the drop-offs of the turnaround basin. Trolling sparkle beetles in the root beer color will trigger strikes from Canal trout. Some white trout may still be at the Old Navy Port at the mouth of the canal. Target areas 20-feet or deeper to locate the whites. Chartreuse curly tail grubs will entice the whites.
When local rivers get muddy, coastal anglers can usually still find some fishable water over in Fish River. Trolling grubs in the river is your best bet to make contact with both redfish and speckled trout. Zoom’s rainbow trout colored grubs are a great choice to get speckled trout action. Pull the lures around islands and as close to docks as possible. Nice redfish are always a possibility in Fish River in February.
During February you can usually count on finding speckled trout along the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay When you have sunny days in bunches, warming up the shallows. You can catch specks off the beach and around old pier pilings structure there. The Catch-5 plug is good in this situation. Also, try Mirrodines in the silver-sided color. Johnson Sprite Spoons in silver will also take the tasty trout.
While not quite offshore, the beaches of Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan can be very productive for whiting and pompano. Use a small section of shrimp for the whiting, while pompano prefers sand fleas. The whiting are very good table fare, despite the smaller size. Fried up crisp, with a side of Cole slaw, they are hard to beat. Pompano, broiled in the oven with a lemon butter sauce, will make coastal anglers hit the beach more often despite the chilly temps.
Around the rigs, 8-10 miles out, you can expect to tussle with some brawny sheepshead. Drop a piece of shrimp straight down around the rig legs and experiment as to the depth they are holding in. You will need to use some pretty stout tackle to haul up the ‘convict fish.’
Another close offshore option is to troll for early Spanish or bull reds. The Drone Spoon is a proven producer and will catch both species, providing action on a cool day.
Bream will still be parked in Delta creeks in February. Targeting the deep bends in creeks like Mudhole, Crab or Conway’s can result in nice catches of the panfish. Live crickets are readily available at most bait shops but having a supply of seed shrimp can really make a difference in these creeks. You can catch your own seed shrimp by sweeping a fine mesh net under the grasses along the banks. Drop the seed shrimp under a small cork along the grass edges and work your way around the bends of the creeks. Next, you should put your baits on the bottom to tempt the bream.
“Delta anglers can also locate some really nice bass that hide-out around and inside of the duck blinds left over from the recent duck season.”
Bay Minette Creek is known for hold nice concentrations of bream in the deepest parts of the creek. Put your crickets on the bottom and allow the boat to drift with the current until you contact the bream. Once you locate them you should ease over the anchor and start working on the fish. You can also use 1/8 oz. Beetle Spins to fool the larger bream.
Bass will be a tough catch for coastal anglers during February’s coldest days. In the Mobile Tensaw Delta, you can concentrate on the heads of creeks where the water will normally be clearer than local rivers. Delta anglers can also locate some really nice bass that hide-out around and inside of the duck blinds left over from the recent duck season. To better take advantage of the bass’s fondness for the man-made cover, try dropping live shiners under a cork around these structures. Some of the nicest bass of the year can be taken using this method.
If you can’t locate live shiners you can aggravate bass into striking in these duck blinds by vertical jigging a dark-colored Brush Hog Jig in and around the blinds. Be prepared to ‘lean on’ the bass and jerk them from the thick cover of the blinds.
Coastal anglers can find crappie by fishing around structure in Delta creeks this month. Small crappie minnows are the best bait, but small plastic jigs will also take the crappie. Hall’s Mill Creek off of Dog River can produce nice crappie around boat docks. Toss your offering under the docks for more hookups.
February has always proven to be a tough month for coastal anglers to catch fish. However, with a little persistence and paying attention to details, you can still put fish in the frying pan this month. Be extra careful on the water and wear that PFD (personal flotation device) to make sure you will come back home safely in tough, cold conditions.
See you on the water!
Johnson Sprite Spoons & Beetle Spins