Florida Fishing Report - February 11
Central Florida?The lakes of the St. Johns River and Harris Chain are seeing bass starting to move onto the beds, particularly around the warm water springs and shallow creeks off the main lakes. Fish to 10 pounds were caught this week by anglers sight casting to fish with watermelon/green glitter Yum Dingers and junebug colored Chigger Craws. The largest concentrations of fish are still staging for the spawn in deeper water around points of vegetation and the mouths of the creeks.
Crappie are starting to move into the grass in Lake Kissimmee and Toho, with limits being caught in 3-6 feet of water. Next week?s full moon should really charge up the crappie bite, with live Missouri minnows the top baits. Shad fishing in the St. Johns River near the confluence of the Little Econ has been outstanding for anglers throwing darts or small weighted flies. Anglers are averaging 10-15 fish per day.Lake Okeechobee?Bass fishermen on Lake Okeechobee continue to report the best fishing in 20 year?s on one of the nation?s premier freshwater lakes. Anglers fishing live shiners along the outside grass lines at King?s Bar and Second Point are averaging 30 fish per trip, with at least one fish over 8 pounds just about every day right now. Lipless crankbaits are taking lots of prespawn fish along the points adjacent to the spawning areas, but expect those fish to go shallow on next week?s full moon. If the weather stays warm, it could be the best spawning period of the year.For crappie anglers fishing the Kissimmee River, Nubbin Slough and Ritta Island, the best action has been in 6 feet of water using minnows or jig and minnow combinations. Most of the limits are being caught at night, but the water has been cold enough that the feeding takes place all day and night right now. Look for the fish to start moving into the grass in the next week or two.Peacock bass and jaguar gapote can be found in the canals of South Florida right now, with the peacocks schooling around the bridges at first light. Swimming plugs and live shiners have been the best baits for the peacocks, with small jigs fooling the exotic-looking jaguar gapote.Saltwater
Florida PanhandleInshore? Redfish have been the mainstay around Panama City, according to Capt. Pat Dineen. Look for the fish in less than 2 feet of water over dark mud bottom, with shrimp or dark brown or green soft plastics the most productive offerings. The reds are really schooled up right now, so once you find fish, slow down and work the area thoroughly. Seatrout action remains steady around the Steam Plant and in the creeks from Panama City of Apalachicola. Suspending plugs like a Catch 2000 MirrOlure or Sebile Stick Shadd are hard to beat, with most of the trout being caught under two pounds.Offshore? Redfish continue to school just off the beaches and fish to 30 pounds have been taken this week on chartreuse swimbaits or jigs. The deeper wrecks have some big amberjacks on them right now, with vertical jigging or live blue runners the way to go. Expect to catch lots of red snapper and grouper which have to be released after being vented if you?re going to fish the reefs. Wahoo and blackfin tuna are on the outside wrecks if you get nice enough weather to make the long runs. WestCentral FloridaInshore?Redfish can be found in small groups of 5-10 fish in less than a foot of water from Homosassa down to Tampa Bay. The best fishing has been over mud bottom using a tail-hooked shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jighead, although Gulp! Molting Shrimp and cut ladyfish are also yielding fish. Spotted seatrout, ladyfish and bluefish are working the flats in 3-4 feet of water throughout Tampa Bay. Just watch for the diving birds and throw an Assassin Stinky Pink Sea Shad into the mix and hang on. Sheepshead are the mainstay at the Skyway Pier as well as around the docks in many of the private canals from Tampa south to Sarasota. Live shrimp are the best bait.Offshore?The rockpiles from Crystal River to St. Joe?s Sound are holding big schools of spawning sheepshead to 8 pounds. Look for the fish in 8-12 feet of water, with pieces of shrimp the top baits. Anglers looking for catch-and-release action will find all the grouper they want over hard bottom anywhere from 3-6 miles off the beach. Live pinfish and Williamson Speed Jigs are fooling grouper to 15 pounds right now.Southwest FloridaInshore?Tarpon have finally showed in Southwest Florida, with the fish holding in the coves and river mouths from Lostman?s River to Port of the Islands. Look for clean water and free-jumping fish, with bucktails and topwater plugs taking fish to 150 pounds right now. Redfish, snook and trout can be found in the backcountry potholes around Matlache and Charlotte Harbor, with live shrimp, MorrOlure MirrOdines and jerkbaits the best offerings.
Offshore?Mutton and mangrove snapper are being caught off the wrecks and also out in the Middle Grounds using live pinfish, sandperch, and cigar minnows. Bait can be found around the outside range markers, along with a few cobia. Tripletail are starting to show around the crab trap buoys from Naples south and into Florida Bay, with live shrimp or small shrimp flies taking fish to 11 pounds.Florida KeysInshore?Anglers making the long runs into the backcountry are starting to see tarpon around the western rivers of Florida Bay, with live pinfish the best bait. Hang those pinfish under a popping cork with 60 pound fluorocarbon leader and a 5/0 circle hook and hang on. Seatrout and redfish action is also steady in Florida Bay, as is Spanish mackerel and pompano. Bull and blacktip sharks can be found in 4-8 feet of water using a butterflied barracuda or Spanish mackerel to draw the fish close to the boat. Some of the bull sharks are upwards of 400 pounds.Offshore?King and cero mackerel are pushing through the Lower Keys with limits of these fish available in 50-90-feet of water around the Western Dry Rocks. Cobia are also making a showing on the wrecks of the Lower Keys, with pinfish and jigs the top baits. The hot bite has been for blackfin tuna, which can be found around the Sub off Key West, and the Islamorada Humps, with fish to 30 pounds being taken on live pilchards or Spanish sardines. Sailfish action remains steady, particularly in the Upper Keys, where live ballyhoo, pilchards or goggle-eyes are producing multiple fish days right now. Look for dolphin and wahoo action to heat up around the full moon, along with daytime swordfishing in 2200 feet of water.Southeast FloridaInshore?Redfish and spotted seatrout action has been excellent for anglers fishing the flats north of Fort Pierce with Drunk Monkey colored Bass Assassin jerkbaits on a 1/8-ounce jighead. Look for the reds tight to the mangroves and the trout in 2-4 feet of water from North Bridge to Queen?s Cove. Surf fishermen are catching limits of pompano from Fort Pierce to Jupiter Inlet using sandfleas, clams or shrimp for bait, while inshore anglers targeting pompano on the Sailfish Point flats with Hook Up Pompano Jigs in pink and white or yellow and chrome are doing well on fish to three pounds. Nighttime fishing around the bridges from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami is red hot for tarpon to 100 pounds or more, with live shrimp the best offering. Flies are doing well too. Look for the fish on the shadow lines.
Offshore?On the nice days anglers are targeting swordfish off Hollywood in 1700-2000 feet of water using squid or live blue runners. Fish to 350 pounds have been caught in the last week, mostly by daytime swordfish anglers, along some nice fish are being caught drifting at night as well. Sailfish continue to be the mainstay in blue water, with fish as shallow as 50 feet (off Stuart) and as deep as 150 feet (off Haulover Inlet), with live goggle-eyes, sardines, threadfins and trolled ballyhoo the top offerings. The nighttime yellowtail and mangrove snapper bite has been consistent from Jupiter to Boynton Beach, with the best action coming in 60-90 feet of water.East Central FloridaInshore?Redfish and black drum are the mainstays in the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River right now, with good catches of both species taking place from Titusville to Oak Hill. With the cooler weather the black drum are schooling on the flats, and fish to 40 pounds were taken this week on live shrimp and chunks of blue crab. Slot reds have been hard to come by, but larger fish are working the shorelines in the No Motor Zone and in the holes off Dragon Point and the Pineata Causeway in Melbourne. Spotted seatrout can be caught on Assassin Sea Shads by watching for the calm slicks on the water that are created by schooling trout consuming large quantities of oily glass minnows. Ladyfish and sheepshead can be caught around the warm water discharges from the Power Plants.Offshore?Sailfish, wahoo and blackfin tuna are the mainstays for blue water anglers working the color changes from 120- to 400-feet of water. Most boats are pulling rigged ballyhoo or swimming mullet with at least one bait down deep for wahoo and one bait shotgunned way behind the boat for the blackfin tuna. A few cobia have started to show up on the southern end of the region, but with the exception of fish caught around Bethel Shoals on manta rays, the cobia run isn?t expected to kick into gear for another month. Just in case, make sure you have a spinning rod rigged with a chartreuse jig any time you head out the inlet for the next two months. Bottom fishing has been steady in 60-90 feet of water for sea bass and catch-and-release red snapper.Northeast FloridaInshore? Sheepshead have invaded just about every inlet from Jacksonvile down to Daytona Beach, with live shrimp or fiddler crabs 9if you can get them) the most popular baits. Sand fleas and mussels will also work. Redfish and seatrout are up in the creeks right now, with the outgoing tides the best time to fish. Live shrimp, gold spoons and spinnerbaits are fooling reds to 12 pounds, and some nice stripers have been caught at night around the urban Jacksonville bridges using bucktails or Long A Bomber plugs. Mud minnows on a ¼-ounce jighead bounced around the dock pilings are taking flounder to six pounds.Offshore?On the days when you can get out the wahoo bite has been fantastic in 240-360 feet of water either high-speed trolling or trolling with Ilander/ballyhoo combinations. The wahoo are schooling right now, so when you hook one, mark it and spin back around for multiple passes. That will result in catching more fish from the school. Whiting and bluefish are providing the most action in the surf right now, with whiting hitting fresh dead shrimp and bluefish eating cut bait.