Expert tips on the best lures for tarpon fishing

Debbie Hanson

In addition to celebrating our loved ones and honoring our past presidents, you also want to plan a trip to Florida and go fishing in February. There are many species of freshwater and saltwater fish to target in the Sunshine State this month. In fact, February is the time to experience some of the best fishing spots when it comes to four species in particular.

Freshwater species

Florida fishing in February can be awesome when visiting freshwater areas like Lake Istokpoga, Lake Okeechobee, and Lake Talquin. These three lakes are known for being well populated by both largemouth bass and black crappie.

Largemouth Bass

Depending on the weather and water temperature, February bass fishing can be some of the best you can experience year round. In most of the lakes in South Florida, largemouth bass begins spawning very early in the year. Try pouring soft plastic worms in watermelon or junebug colors in the shallows near the coastal vegetation.

Black crappie

Black crappie, also known as mottled perch or blotch, is a popular cold-weather species for many Florida freshwater anglers. You will find schools of Black Crappie generally move from deeper water to shallower areas (3 to 8 feet) to nest during the winter months. Try 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jigs in bright colors like chartreuse and pink.

Salt water species

If you’re wondering when to fish for spotted sea trout or sheep’s head, keep in mind that these two saltwater species are usually worth fishing in February. Sebastian Inlet and Mosquito Lagoon can be two productive places to catch sea trout and sheep’s head at this time of year.

Spotted sea trout

Since winter in Florida generally means clearer skies and clearer water, February is some of the best fishing for you if your aim is for spotted sea trout. In general, the clearer the water, the better the sea trout effect. Look for sand holes on the edges of lawns, then use a light spinning device to expose a live shrimp in the current.

Sheep head

While sheep’s head can be caught year round in the state of Florida, your best chance of catching a larger sheephead is in the winter. Try fishing with a ΒΌ ounce tip of prawn near bridges, stakes, docks, or oyster sticks. Keep in mind that this species has a tendency to chew or nibble bait before consuming it. So resist the urge to stagger when you feel the first nibbles or knocks on your string.

Of course, there are saltwater offshore fishing trips that you can take in February as well. For example, if you search for “February Florida Keys” online, you’ll find plenty of information on sailfish, kingfish, and Spanish mackerel – just a few more reasons to get a Florida fishing license and get out on the water!

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, advocate of sport fishing for women, IGFA world record holder and freshwater guide in southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has been featured 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.