Embarking on a February fishing journey in the Matanzas River calls for a savvy game plan to secure those coveted catches. Drawing from years of captaincy, I’ve honed my skills in deciphering the whims of redfish, trout, black drum, and sheepshead during this month of transitions.

(John Guest with a 32” Redfish on a Zman artificial)

Let’s talk redfish strategy. Timing is your secret weapon. On days when the water temperatures surge, set your sights on shallow creeks and flats. Optimal productivity often coincides with lower tides in the midday sun, accelerating the warming process. Conversely, when temperatures take a dip, turn your gaze toward deeper holes where the water maintains stability, less swayed by the whims of the ambient air.

Irrespective of the temperature trend, brace yourself for chilly waters, demanding a slow and deliberate retrieval pattern for artificial lures. If you lean towards natural bait, consider the art of dead sticking on the bottom – a technique that can yield satisfying results. Patience becomes the angler’s virtue, and grasping the subtleties of temperature shifts becomes the ace up your sleeve.

Now, let’s talk trout intricacies. These elusive fish prefer deeper, moving waters in the 5 to 10-foot range, particularly around drop-offs and structures that offer prime ambush spots. Trout, the connoisseurs of bait presentation, require your finesse. Experiment with casting speeds and angles relative to the water currents until you discover the magic formula.


(Austin Campbell sent in this pic of a “Big Ugly” aka Black Drum)

As February unfolds its maritime tales, black drum still hold their ground. Equip yourself with fresh dead shrimp on a Carolina-style rig for an encounter with these robust adversaries. Opt for deeper waters and holes to maximize your chances of victory.

Sheepshead, the wise inhabitants around rocks, docks, and pilings, remain the sought-after denizens of these waters. Although fiddler crabs might play hard to get, rely on sand fleas and frozen mussels as trustworthy alternatives. Adapt to their discerning tastes, and you’re in for a gratifying day on the water.

Now, let’s pivot to a crucial chapter in our fishing narrative – the sanctity of clean water. The prosperity of our fisheries, the quality of our seafood, and the flourishing state economy all hinge on the vitality of our waterways. As anglers, we bear the mantle of preserving this delicate equilibrium.

I urge each of you to immerse yourself in the upcoming 2026 ballot initiative, “Florida’s Right to Clean Water.” It transcends being merely a cause; it’s a commitment to safeguarding our natural resources. By actively participating now, we pave the way for the success of this initiative, securing a future where our waters gleam in pristine brilliance.

Florida’s waters yearn for the custodianship of Florida’s anglers. Our passion extends beyond the mere thrill of the catch; it encapsulates a responsibility to protect and preserve. The symbiotic dance between anglers and our aquatic ecosystems is undeniable. Our actions today shape the legacy we bequeath to generations yet to come.

Beyond the reel’s whirr and the splash of a catch, let’s embrace the profound responsibility to be stewards of the waters we deeply cherish. Dive into the cause, stay well-informed, and united, let’s forge a future where clean water not only sustains our fisheries but becomes the heartbeat of the Sunshine State. Tight lines, my fellow anglers, and may our commitment to clean water stand as unwavering as the tides. ?

Capt. Adam Morley