Expert Tips on Best Baits for Tarpon Fishing

By Debbie Hanson

Feb 22, 2018

Learn why fishing in February can mean variety in Florida. Find out which freshwater, saltwater species you can enjoy catching, where to go, baits to use 

In addition to celebrating our sweethearts and honoring our past presidents, you may want to plan a trip to Florida and go fishing in February. There are plenty of freshwater and saltwater fish species you can target in the Sunshine State this month. In fact, you can experience some of the best fishing in February when it comes to four species in particular. 

Freshwater Species

Florida fishing in February can be fantastic if you visit freshwater spots such as Lake Istokpoga, Lake Okeechobee, and Lake Talquin. These three lakes are known for having good populations of both largemouth bass and black crappie.

Largemouth Bass

Depending on the weather and water temperature, bass fishing in February can be some of the best you'll experience all year long. In most Southern Florida lakes, largemouth bass will begin spawning very early in the year. Try casting soft plastic worms in watermelon or junebug colors in the shallows near shoreline vegetation.

Black Crappie    

Black crappie, also known as speckled perch or specks, are a favorite cool-weather species of many Florida freshwater anglers. You'll find that schools of Black crappie generally move from deeper water into shallower areas (from 3 to 8 feet) to nest during the winter months. Try using 1/16- to 1/8-ounce jigs in bright colors like chartreuse and pink.

Saltwater Species  

If you're wondering when to fish for spotted seatrout or sheepshead, keep in mind that fishing in February for these two saltwater species is usually quite worthwhile. Sebastian Inlet and Mosquito Lagoon can be two productive places to catch big spotted seatrout and sheepshead during this time of year.

Spotted Seatrout

Since winter in Florida generally means clearer skies and clearer water, you can experience some of the best fishing in February if you're targeting spotted seatrout. Generally speaking, the clearer the water, the better the seatrout action. Look for sand holes on the edges of grass flats, and then use light spinning tackle to free-line a live shrimp in the current.


While sheepshead can be caught year-round in the state of Florida, you'll have your best chance at catching a larger Sheephead during the winter. Try using a shrimp tipped jig (¼-ounce) to fish near bridges, pilings, docks, or oyster bars. Just remember that this species tends to mouth or nibble on baits before eating them, so resist the urge to reel when you feel those first few nibbles or taps on your line.

Of course, there are saltwater offshore fishing trips you can take during the month of February too. For example, if you search online for "February fishing Florida Keys," you'll find plenty of information on sailfish, kingfish, and Spanish mackerel -- just a few more reasons to buy a Florida fishing license and hit the water!

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.