Florida Inshore Fishing and Small Game Hunting Guide: Maximizing Spring Opportunities

February 07, 2024
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As spring approaches, inshore fishing thrives with sheepshead, trout, and redfish, while live shrimp bait reigns supreme. Warm days bring trout to the flats, and the woods offer serene hunting for small game and deer, making now the ideal time for both fishing enthusiasts and hunters to enjoy the natural bounty of the Big Bend area.

As the calendar turns and brings us a month closer to the vibrant season of spring, the inshore fishing landscape remains steadfast, mirroring the patterns observed in the previous weeks. Anglers continue to find the rivers bountiful, harboring an array of species such as sheepshead, black drum, and the smaller yet resilient mangrove snapper. These waters also offer the sporadic thrill of landing a keeper trout or redfish, much to the delight of those casting their lines. The bait of choice in these parts is live shrimp, strategically presented on the bottom, a technique that has proven its efficacy time and again.

Fish the Flats

With the mercury in the thermometer inching higher, particularly during the warmest segments of the day, the hard flats skirting the keys present a different opportunity. Here, nice trout are being lured to jerk baits, specifically those rigged with a nose-hooked setup. Mastery in this domain comes with the art of the long cast, a skill that not only covers more water but also increases the chances of a catch. Upon a successful hook-up, it's advisable to anchor the vessel and meticulously fan cast the surrounding area. Experience dictates that these trout tend to congregate tightly, often schooling up, offering a golden opportunity for those ready to capitalize.

seatrout caught with a Boner Fishing rod by William Toney

Nearshore Havens Produce Sheepshead and Grunts

Venturing a bit further from the shore, the nearshore rocks maintain their reputation as productive spots, especially for sheepshead and white grunts. However, it's interesting to note that the sheepshead found deeper in the rivers tend to boast a larger size. That said, these nearshore havens can sometimes yield pleasant surprises, such as keeper trout, hinting at the dynamic nature of these waters as conditions shift and species migrate.

Head Into the Woods for Serenity

As an angler myself, I find that this period also beckons me to explore other passions, particularly the serene embrace of the woods. The Wildlife Management Areas, open for small game season, offer a tranquil retreat where one can pursue squirrels and wild hogs. These excursions through the Big Bend hammocks and woods are not just about the hunt; they're a celebration of nature's quiet, an elixir for the soul amidst the cool embrace of the wilderness. And for those whose hearts are set on deer, a venture northward to the Apalachicola National Forest might be in order. This expansive natural haven, apart from offering free primitive camping and numerous spots for your camper trailer, extends its deer hunting season almost till February's end. For anyone looking to enrich their experience, I always recommend a visit to www.myfwc.com for the most comprehensive and insightful guidance.

For the fishing enthusiasts gearing up for the weekend, it's worth noting that the high incoming tide will grace us in the early hours of the morning, setting the stage for what could be a memorable day on the water. Whether you choose to spend it with a rod in hand, awaiting the gentle tug of a fish, or wandering through the woods in pursuit of game, the natural world is poised to offer its myriad of treasures.

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
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Benjamin 02.09.2024