January 2024 Fishing Report and February Forecast


Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (grassflats2@yahoo.com)

January 2024 Fishing Report

One of the characteristics of winter fishing in the Big Bend is inconsistency, and January was a great example. With fluctuating temperatures, very low daytime tides, and blustery weather, a good fishing day requires some planning. In addition, we had a severe storm that had everyone concerned about another flooding incident, but thankfully we avoided that challenge. In spite of the weather, there was some great fishing this month. The Florida Redfish Series tournament had a record 85 boats, 76 kayaks, and 248 anglers. A great turnout and some fine fish were caught. Team Tampa Outfitters won the boat division with 12.9 lbs. and Matt Lanier won the kayak division with total length of 52.25 inches. Here are some pictures from this month’s fishing adventures.

Fishing Forecast For February 2024

February is pretty much like January, although by the end of the month there is usually a consistent warming trend. The goal for recreational anglers is to try and increase your chances of success for each trip. While our guides generally don’t have this flexibility, if you do, it’s worthwhile planning your trip. Your first decision is whether you are willing to fish the river. When water temperatures get into the mid-50s and below, there are trout and some redfish, along with black drum and croaker, in holes in the river. They are rarely stable in location; they move with the tides and changes in temperature and can be found all the way upriver to the Landings. Fishing deep in rocky holes with Gulp baits or live shrimp can be productive. But if you want to catch generally larger fish, you need to get outside of the river, even if it’s a challenge. How can you make it easier? Plan. Look at tide tables and marine forecasts. Daytime winter tides can last much of the day, keeping you from nearshore structure that can hold fish. Unless you have access to creeks with an airboat, kayak or jet drive, you’ll be fishing in deeper water and the fish are more scattered. When you can get into creeks (Dallus being the primary example), you’ll usually find a good number of keepers mixed with smaller fish. Schools of larger fish are hard to find but can provide an amazing day of fishing when you locate them. In the winter, trout relate more to water temperature, which means structure. Try to pick days with afternoon high tides that allow you to get to rockpiles and creeks that have been warmed by the sun. Fishing structure in the winter for trout is a great time to try fishing slowly suspending lures. My particular favorite for big trout in the winter is Paul Brown’s Corky Devil, which we’ve been using for years before they were purchased by Mirro-Lure. There are other slow-sinking lures that run shallow, including Live Target Sardines and others, all of which you can find at the Ship’s Store. Whatever you fish, fish slow. You cannot catch fish in frigid waters by rapidly jigging whatever you’re fishing with. Move from rockpile to rockpile, fishing oyster bars if you can get to them. In general, when you find one large trout, there will be many more around so be patient. Pick your days to have the most success during the winter months.

The big local event in February is the Fiddler Crab Festival, this year the weekend of February 16-18th. There is a tournament on Saturday the 17th so combine your festival trip with an opportunity to win some excellent prize money ($500 for the largest trout and the largest redfish, plus other prizes).

February 10, 2024 – Santa Fe High School Baseball Fishing Tournament

February 17, 2024 – Fiddler Crab Festival Fishing Tournament

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