February usually means “Love is in the air”, but it has typically been the month I love the least fishing wise. By this time I long for warmer weather giving way to spring fishing patterns with summer right around the corner, but lingering cold fronts put a halt to these dreams.
But, if you are patient and willing to put up with often chilly, windy, damp and foggy conditions, there are plenty of fish too stalk.
In February, I prefer to hunker down and fish the docks with live shrimp. This February has gotten off to a good start with some nice redfish and snook action. The reds have been slot sized and a few over slot while most of the snook are “peanut” sized. It isn’t that the big snook are not around, they just seem more interested in warming up than eating.
It is quite a rush to sight cast to a 15 lb snook slowly lumbering across a shallow mud bank half out of the water. If you time it right (or just get lucky) and catch them chewing hard, look out.
Snook are ridiculous fighters fighters which adds to the allure of catching them. They know exactly where the structure is, and with dock fishing, it isn’t long before you find yourself in big trouble.
That is where I feel kayak fishing gives you the upper hand to landing these behemoths as they make their mad dash under the dock.
One technique I employ is free spooling, opening the bail, if a snook or big red heads for a dock. This gives me time to paddle after them and keep from getting cut off. Once I get a better angle I can re-engage fighting the fish.
I have literally laid flat out on my kayak to get under some pretty tight dock spaces to land fish while weaving in and around pylons and under boats on davits. It makes for a great fish story even if the big one gets away.
I prefer not to beef up on tackle but rather go light with 15 lb braid and 20-25 lb leader since my method isn’t horsing the fish from the dock but chasing him down.
The other great thing about dock fishing is the bi-catch of drum and sheepies which are great eating fish and pretty plentiful throughout the colder winter months.