February 2019 Fishing Report
For today’s action call 866-259-4205
February arrives bringing one of our most productive early season periods for offshore angling. The shallows of the back country remain fast paced with the widest variety of sport fish and predators for the light tackle angler to pursue. It’s a time of “options” fishing the waters of Key West!
Our offshore fishing has continued to improve. The iconic Sailfish bite is on! Always elusive the Sailfish is a true “bucket list” species for most saltwater anglers. February remains an excellent period for Kingfish action. Big “Smoker” Kingfish continue providing excellent action offshore and more occasionally nearer the reef during February. The Mackerel family is here in huge numbers in general with quality size Cero and Spanish. February sees an increase in the aggressiveness of Black Fin Tuna. There are few species of pelagic fish capable of the total chaos when a school of big Black Fin show up. We see a slowing down momentarily for the solitary Wahoo during February that will last until mid-May. Mahi action improves for February so we will have days of great action when these outstanding pelagic get fired up…there seems to always be a few Mahi around in our waters but in fairness to the angler…think of them as still a wonderful bonus fish when they come in the boat during early February especially. The apex predators remain active with February being an awesome month for large Barracuda. We are moving into an exciting period for offshore however, we believe a ½-day charter still has some challenges with ever changing travel times between marina and fishing grounds. Best bet book at least the ¾ day (six-hour trip) especially if you are a party of three or four or more.
Reef & Wreck:
February can bring wind therefore the waters on the reef verses further offshore will remain far more comfortable most days. This is also a time when the light tackle angler may want to consider our new Hybrid boats fishing the patch reefs. These “patch reefs” rest about half way between the land mass and the natural reef 6 to 8 miles offshore. The patch reefs may just check off a lot of boxes for some anglers. Check out this option under the “back country” report for more in-depth details…
In Key West the speed of the wind and the direction of the wind are both factors we must deal with and sometimes compensate for during late winter. This continues to be a good time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out to the nearer shore wreck sites as well. The Cobia action continues to be in the excellent range for the next few months. Cobia are a favorite target species for many knowledgeable anglers as these pelagic species of larger, aggressive fish travel from our back country to the weed lines well offshore. Here today and gone tomorrow, our guides always have an eye out for Cobia. The Snapper family continues to produce and with February we see a significant increase with the Mangrove and Yellow Tail action. The large Mutton Snapper continues to provide us with some exceptional days on the reef and wrecks as well. Snapper is a perfect species to pursue with table fare in mind. The Snapper family is wonderful on the table and plentiful in our waters and the angler is awarded a nice daily bag limit for “keepers”. The Grouper family will offer some outstanding action however the harvest of Grouper ended January 1, with the season now closed until May in Monroe county (all of the keys). Our elusive Permit are always challenging, the Permit is a sought-after sport fish and prized by anglers from around the planet and February typically shows much better action from the last few months on the way to excellent Permit action by March. The predator action with Barracuda and Sharks continues to be outstanding.
Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year remains an excellent time for fast paced action while targeting a very wide variety of species. Anglers will appreciate our calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country continues to grow with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target and also numerous schooling species will provide nonstop action most days. Just a few of the schooling species in our bays now are Trout and Pompano, Jacks, Lady Fish, Blue Runners, Grunts, Porgies…the list is nearly endless in February of that mangrove island shoreline fish. A perfect trip for the hard-core light tackle angler to the novice angler or the family.
NOTE: We have recently added a number of new state of the art, larger “bay boats” (26-28 footers up to 6 passenger max vessels in some instances-perfect family boats/trips) we refer to as “Hybrids”. This is the future for Bay Boats/shallow, near shore angling).Â Boats are fully loaded, complete with enclosed marine heads, additional comfortable seating arrangements, T-tops, many with second stations in short towers yet these boats retain the ability to fish shallow as well as the midpoint reef & shallow wrecks via GPS controlled Trolling Motors, Power Pole anchoring systems, Garmin Electronics and more.
Tarpon time is still not here so generally speaking Tarpon will remain hit or miss in the back country during early and mid-February however on the given day the bonus Tarpon shows up. In our back-country waters in February is our resident population of mostly juvenile Tarpon and the angler needs to keep in mind these fish are super sensitive to changing conditions and become very “hit or miss” with a fast-moving front, or cooler winds on the surface being enough to turn them off. Tarpon are here but we typically do not target them until about the first of March.
The ½ day to ¾ day trips continue to produce well however the afternoon water temperatures are not as high now so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. The Redfish action during February is as good as we enjoy in Key West. In fairness we are not the Redfish fishery of the Everglades and upper keys but the Reds we have are typically good “slot size” fish. Good Cobia fishing continues and can produce some quality fish and action in the back country especially near shallow structure and cover. Snook are certainly not super active with our cooler water temps but we do have those rare days of mild air temperatures and calmer winds that can bring the Snook to life in the back country. This is a time of fast paced “excellent” action in general from the schooling species such as Jacks including some huge Yellow Jacks, Sea Trout, tasty Pompano and more.
The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing improves greatly in the back country in February. For serious “table fare” harvest we certainly recommend the reef & wreck trips now but to include a few “keeper” fish for lunch or dinner will not be a problem in our shallows. The predator fishing improves greatly for February. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the hit list. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple larger sharks even on the ½-day trips. February is predator time especially in the Marquesas so anglers can count on these aggressive species to be ready to go “head to head” if you are willing to make the long runs to this fabled atoll.. We “highly recommend” a back-country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip in calmer waters. The back country is relaxing, serine and far from crowded…paradise and just maybe what Key West is all about.
Short periods of “decent” Bonefish action continue for the patient angler in February. This is still early in the flats fishing year so not typically a great month for the flats. Permit will be scarce on the flats and Tarpon are completely out of action on the flats for a little longer.Â The flats angler should now include Barracuda and sharks on his hit list. Â Just a remainder that we provide a true “flats fishing experience” and this should not be confused with the back-country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866-259-4205 for more insights. This is the perfect boat/guide combination for the fly fisher…the only trip we recommend when fly casting becomes part of the game plan and considerations.
This is a time of more stable water temperatures so fishing conditions in general have settled in, friends. We still recommend fishing morning trips if going shallow as they remain the most productive over the later afternoon hours for the serious angler but again the afternoon trips are good. The PM half day trips only continue to improve and can be quite enjoyable especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. Reef trips in the afternoon fishing slightly deeper waters along with our new “Near Shore” patch reefs can be very good trips for later in the day departure times also. Sharks are plentiful and active. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home!
Let’s go Fishing!
Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter 866-259-4205.
Daily 7 AM to 9 PM. We look forward to your call!