February 2013 Winter Fishing Report for Clearwater and Dunedin
So far this year we have had a relatively warm winter for my January and February fishing charters in Dunedin and Clearwater fishing areas. At one point during the second week in February, the water temperature reached 72 degrees. Normal temps for the winter months usually average around the low 60ís. My customers were not complaining because most of them are from up north and they had snow in their states.
Our above normal warm conditions, has keep the fish scattered throughout the bay waters. The herds of large gator trout did not push up on the warm shallows as they would do if the waters were a lot cooler. There were plenty of 20+ inch fish caught so far but the numbers were down. We caught most of our big trout on live shrimp with some coming from artificial jigs and plastic tails.
Chad, Bud and Bob were on the water in late January and caught some nice 18 to 20 inch trout in Dunedin. Chad also found a large pompano that ate a large shrimp and put up a great fight.
Other trips yielded some 20+ inch trout like Peter and friends below showing off their triple header. Also Patrick and Stephanie are holding up two large fish. Michael and Karen were not to be out done and had a great time catching their gator trout. Jeff and dad, Rex got into the action and doubled up on some big specs and added another two dozen to the total. Gordie came out on a beautiful Feb. day and did a fine job boating a couple dozen gator trout. His biggest was 22 inches. Alex and son, Ayis, were not to be out done. They are showing off their 20 inch fish. We were fishing with live shrimp and the trout were very active.
I spent a lot of time looking for redfish in Dunedinís St Joseph Sound, Clearwater Bay and along the mangrove shore lines. The reds were hit and miss as they were also spread out from their normal cold weather spots. I found some reds around docks and some in the shallows. The key to finding the fish we caught was to keep moving quickly. I got up in the flats on higher tides and shifted over to the docks as the tide fell. We caught some reds on certain trips and none on others. All of our reds were caught on live shrimp fished under a float.
Nick found his 26 inch redfish on the flats of Clearwater Bay. It was his first red ever and did a great job landing the fish. Jeff and Rex also did a great job catching a pair of reds because they pulled them out from the pilings under a dock. Patrick landed his first ever red that put up a tough fight. He also added a couple of speedy mackerel to his stringer.
I was out doing a little researching before one of my charters in February. I started throwing my favorite plastic tail, Cal 3 inch jerk bait in root beer color, around some docks and on the third cast, nailed this 31 inch red. He was able to get into some of the pilings but I finely worked him back out and to the boat. Not an easy task by yourself. Shot this quick photo and released.
We finely had a cold snap the third week of the month and brought the water temps back to the low 60ís which is about normal.
This mild winter will set up March and Spring Break for a very active month. Bait fish, which never really left for winter, will show up in mass with all the hungry predators following ahead of schedule.
Capt. Gary Burch