Shrimp Gumbo  

February fishing is about bottom fishing and
the best rig this month is still a shrimp on the bottom

Shrimp is the bait of choice in February. Winter fishing is about bottom fishing. This is certainly true offshore, but it also holds true for Ten Thousand Islands backwaters.

Hook the shrimp through the head when casting or trolling.

Insert the hook from under the shrimp's head, and push the barb out on top, avoiding the vital organs. ...Insert the hook through the top of the shrimp's head, working the point under the vital organs before pushing it out elsewhere on the top of the head.

TEMPERATURE is the first rule of when to fish. Fishing will be slower when it's too hot or too cold.

You can walk-the-dog with your trusty Zara Spook or Top Dog all day long, but the best rig this month is still a shrimp on the bottom.

REDFISH (RED DRUM). Regulations. Slot limit of not less than 18REDFISH (RED DRUM). Regulations. Slot limit of not less than 18" or more than 27"; no closed season; one fish per person per day limit. General Information.

Drum are known shrimp lovers. Shrimp, however, are not as cheap as they once were.

If there is any doubt about inflation, just check the price of shrimp. Many marinas now charge $3.85+ per dozen and you can expect that price to go up this year.

HOW TO RIG LIVE SHRIMP
TRY ONE OF THESE FIVE DIFFERENT WAYS TO RIG LIVE SHRIMP FOR SUCCESS.

Dead or alive, fresh or frozen, shrimp are one of the best baits for inshore saltwater fishing.

Black drum, bonefish, flounder, grouper, jackfish, pompano, redfish, snook, sea trout, sheepshead, tarpon, and whiting are among the species you can catch with shrimp.

There are also a number of ways to hook a shrimp, depending on whether you’re fishing it live or dead and how you’re presenting it.

If you intend to drift your shrimp in the current or suspend it below a float rig or popping cork, you'll want to take advantage of its natural kicking action, which often pushes the strike button of many game fish.

The best way to do this is to hook the shrimp through its carapace.

However, it is important to avoid the shrimp's stomach and pancreas, which appear as two translucent dark spots.

In version one, the hook is threaded crosswise through the carapace, just under the tip of the shell.

In version two, which will provide more casting distance and make the shrimp easier to retrieve, the hook point is threaded under the "chin" and exits through the center of the carapace, just behind the "horn" and between the vital organs.

When hooked in this way, the shrimp won't live as long as it would if hooked crosswise through the carapace.

When casting distance is important, as it can be when trying to bait a cruising fish, it's best to hook the shrimp through the tail.

This will place the heavier head section forward while reducing the chances of the shrimp tearing off on the cast.

Also, removing the shrimp's tail fan will emit a scent that attracts fish.

After breaking off the tail fan, thread the hook through the center of the tail until the entire shank is hidden and push the point through the underside of the tail.

Now push the tail over the hook eye and knot to hide them. A baitholder-style hook will help prevent the shrimp from sliding off the hook.

To make a weedless casting rig for fishing in grassy areas, break off the tail fan and push the hook point all the way through the tip of the tail.

Pull the shank out of the tail and invert the hook, so that the point faces the underside of the shrimp.

Lastly, embed the point of the hook in the tail meat

Yet another way to rig a shrimp for basic casting and drift-fishing is to run the hook through the tip of the tail, either crosswise or up through the center of the tail.

The latter keeps the hook point clear of bottom snags.

Many experts prefer this method because it allows the shrimp to kick freely and puts the hook in a good position for striking when a game fish eats the bait head-first.

The tail fan can be left on, or removed to provide additional scent.

I just hope that the fish appreciate how much we fishermen are spending on them. They are eating in style! It probably costs me more to feed the local trout population than it does my family.

February are the holes and troughs

Understanding this bit of biology will help you decide what kinds of lures and baits to use, and how fast or slow to work them. Work your tackle slower in colder water and faster in warm water

Below are fish found in our local Southwest Florida waters. They abound in the backwaters, tidal pools, tidal creeks and offshore. They are schoolies or smaller in the backwaters and as they grow the larger older fish live most of there life's offshore.

Florida Fishing - Species. SHEEPSHEAD. Regulations. 12Florida Fishing - Species. SHEEPSHEAD. Regulations. 12" minimum size limit; no closed season; 15 per person per day limit. General Information. Because of ...

They are respectful from left to right Sheephead (wait to you see there teeth-are those dentures), catch a lot of these Mango (grey) snapper minimum 10"-good eating), Redfish (red Drum),

Live shrimp, live pilchards, live mullet, and live sardines can all work depending on where you are fishing.  Snook  fished near their ambush points such as docks and mangroves.Live shrimp, live pilchards, live mullet, and live sardines can all work depending on where you are fishing. As with most bait fishing it's usually best to catch some bait near the area you will be fishing. Snook have a hard time turning down a lively bait fished near their ambush points such as docks and mangroves.

Everyone's favorite Snook, best tasting of all the Florida fish Pompano and always a great fight and little brother to the King Machreal and cousin to Wahoo, Spanish Mackrel.

The last two are not pictured here. Just to big and smelly. Also, the preferred food of Pompano are Sand Fleas not shrimp.

Whatever your choice of baits, the top places to fish in February are the holes and troughs, especially where there is hard bottom or oysters. A host of predators typically fill these holes, and they all will take a shrimp or slow-moving jig tipped with shrimp.

Florida pompano are common in inshore and nearshore waters, especially along sandy beaches, ... These fish spawn offshore between March and September.Florida pompano are common in inshore and nearshore waters, especially along sandy beaches, ... These fish spawn offshore between March and September.

Anglers soaking sand fleas and shrimp in beach troughs consistently score these silvery jacks, but the real test entails hunting and casting to individual targets.

“There’s nothing better than sight-fishing. It’s my favorite method for pompano,” he says. “I always start looking on incoming tides. That’s when you get the cleaner water.”

Sheepshead, snapper and black drum are the most common catches, but more prestigious fish such as redfish, grouper and snook also winter in these deeper areas. Of course, jacks and ladyfish are everywhere in the Ten Thousand Islands. At times, there are so many jacks and ladies that no other fish have a chance to sniff your bait.

To hook anything else, you simply have to move. If you fish south of Goodland, there are so many holes and deep areas that it is difficult to choose where to fish. Trial and error is always the best teacher, but certain characteristics will help you identify productive waters.

Narrow cuts between bays are often good. Always fish an eddy, where the current doubles back upon itself. Dropoffs next to an oyster bar almost always hold sheepshead, and downed trees are good habitat for grouper and snook.

Fish rocky outcrops and ledges

The entrance to Lostmans River is a maze of oysters and holes, and once inside, there are deep, rocky holes. The banks in this area are also fishy, and if the weather is good, the outside points all along the coast usually hold fish at the top of the incoming tide.

Farther north around Naples, anglers often move just offshore to fish rocky outcrops and ledges that hold sheepshead, snapper, grouper and the occasional cobia. If you venture just a little farther out to the artificial reefs, you’ll tug on more sheepshead and grouper, plus triggerfish, lane snapper and Spanish mackerel.

All in all, this is a fairly good, action-packed fishery, all based around soaking shrimp on the bottom—if you can afford them.

For purists who cannot stand the idea of drowning shrimp

For purists who cannot stand the idea of drowning shrimp, or are too poor to afford them, there is good lure action over the grassflats when the water is clear.

Perhaps the all-time favorite bait for seatrout anglers is the good old live shrimpPerhaps the all-time favorite bait for seatrout anglers is the good old live shrimp. Whether fished under a popping float, a slip float, free lined or on a jig head, shrimp catch more seatrout than all other natural baits combined.

Trout are the most popular target, but Spanish mackerel and bluefish are more plentiful and fight much harder. Silver trout and whiting can be found along the beaches, and there are pompano near the passes, in the cuts between grassbeds and in some backwaters where channels wash into the bays

Spanish Mackerel are open-water fish. Even when they're inshore (which they often are) they're not hanging out waiting for bait; they are chasing itThey're designed to look in front of them, they feed in large schools, and because they drive their small baitfish prey to the surface, they make diving birds show you where they're feeding. In all, they're fun to catch, easy to catch, and not so bad to eat if you know a few tricks.

All of these fish will take a jig. Spanish macks and bluefish like a very fast retrieve. Trout prefer a slow-moving target and pompano often hit the jig when it is still on bottom. A tip of shrimp certainly helps the pompano fishing

I did not mention live baits, simply because they are very difficult to find in February. And if you do find them, they are often not that effective. Snook and tarpon just are not that hungry in the cool water, and the other species seem to prefer shrimp.

So dip into your bank account, invest in a few dozen shrimp and enjoy your day on the water. So what if bait costs more than fuel.


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