Sunday, November 28, 2021

February fishing in the 10,000 Islands

Tim, Tom and Jim with redfish and a sheepshead. PHOTOS BY CAPT. RAPPS/COASTAL BREEZE NEWS

Tim, Tom and Jim with redfish and a sheepshead. PHOTOS BY CAPT. RAPPS/COASTAL BREEZE NEWS


Capt. Pete Rapps

As January passes, we shall see some small changes in fishing. We were lucky not to be hit with many cold fronts in January. Hopefully the mild winter temperatures continue and the coldest temperatures of the winter will now be behind us. Water temperatures will continue to hover in the low 60’s. Morning air temperatures should average in the low 50’s, and warm up into the mid 70’s by the afternoon.

Keep an eye on your tide charts because we have some extremely low tides around the next full and new moons. More specifically, be mindful of the morning low tides February 5th – 9th, and the 17th – 22nd! Wind direction affects the tides dramatically. A north or east wind will make the tide lower and longer than expected as it blows the water out and delays it’s return.

In the 10,000 islands near shore areas, I like to hit the outside flats on the incoming flood tide. We drift areas that are 3’-5’ deep and vary from grass to sand. This way we can expect a combination of both trout on the grass, and pompano on the sand. I like to use a 3/8 oz. bucktail type jig, with a good amount of glitter on it. A perfect example of a universal jig that will catch both trout and pompano is a Don’s Potbelly Jig. You can use your light casting gear with 10 lb. test line and 2 feet of 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader. In addition to the trout

John Czencz with a nice Trout.

John Czencz with a nice Trout.

and pompano, you can expect to pick up Spanish mackerel, jacks and ladyfish.

The backwater bays and rivers hold redfish, snook, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, and other fun-to-catch species. When fishing for snook, it’s hard to beat live baits like pilchards and thread herring. We have had great results using popping corks with Berkley Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. Snapper will gladly accept pieces of shrimp, and the ladyfish love jerkbaits and bucktail jigs.

On the outgoing tide, I like to head into the river mouths and the backwaters and fish for sheepshead and snapper. They both love shrimp and will gladly accept a piece rather than a whole live shrimp. The reason why I like shrimp pieces in February is two-fold. First off, the winter shrimp tend to be large. By cutting them in half, you can stretch your supply to last a lot longer. Secondly, the sheepshead and snapper have small mouths and will usually just rob a whole shrimp right off your hook.

I have a Species Availability Chart relative to the backwater and nearshore areas that I fish in the Everglades National Park. You can see it at

Capt. Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See the online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at and you can reach him at 239-571-1756.

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