February continues to offer fantastic fly fishing opportunities in Tampa Bay and along the West Central Florida coast. The water temperatures, hovering around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, are showing signs of a slight increase as cold fronts space apart. Anglers continue to target redfish, spotted sea trout, and snook using proven tactics adapted to the behavior of each species during this transitional period.

Sight fishing for redfish remains productive as water temperatures show signs of a slight rise. Anglers are still quietly poling or wading along shallow grass flats, where redfish can be found tailing or cruising. Crab or shrimp patterns, continue to yield success. With the water temperatures beginning to rise, redfish may become more willing to eat a top water or bait fish imitation.

Blind casting for spotted sea trout into deeper holes and channels remains effective, although anglers may start to notice subtle changes in trout behavior with the slight rise in water temperatures. Continuing to use a long full fluorocarbon leader paired with weighted bait fish or shrimp patterns is recommended.

With the water temperatures on the rise, snook activity is increasing, and they are becoming more prevalent on the flats. Fly anglers should be prepared to target snook using tactics similar to those employed for redfish. As snook become more active and move onto the flats to feed and warm up, presenting bait fish patterns with accuracy and finesse can lead to exciting and explosive strikes. Snook like to congregate around features that have tidal flow, allowing them to set up and ambush to unsuspecting prey.

February continues to offer excellent fly fishing opportunities along the coastal waters of Tampa Bay and West Central Florida. As water temperatures begin to rise slightly, anglers can expect changes in fish behavior, with redfish, spotted sea trout, and snook becoming more active and moving into shallower waters. Adapting tactics to these changing conditions will be key to continued success. As always, anglers are reminded to practice responsible angling, respect the environment, and release fish responsibly to ensure sustainable fisheries for future generations!


West Central Florida Restorative

Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.

West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.

The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.

Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.