Venice Jetty Fishing Forecast for February 2018
Redfish should be good shallow water option in the Venice Inlet area this month, maybe a stray trout. Look for sheepshead, flounder, reds and more around docks. Catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks in the ICW may be a good option if it’s not too cold and Spanish and king mackerel and cobia may show up in the coastal gulf by the end of the month.
Snook season remains closed on the west coast this month, so use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. Since they are temperature sensitive, I wouldn’t target them following strong fronts when water temperatures dip below 60 degrees. There can be some great night fishing in the ICW. Since larger baitfish aren’t that plentiful this time of year, snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and shrimp. Small white flies, like the DOA Shrimp (3’ or the newer 2-3/4”), DOA Tiny TerrorEyz or CAL Jigs with shad tails and jerk worms will all work well.
You may also find snook in rivers, creeks or canals this month. Fishing may be good in these areas on a blustery day when it isn’t fit to fish anywhere else. Wider profile flies and lures will work in these areas due to the baitfish that may be found there. Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns, such as Lefty’s Deceiver, fished on a sink tip fly line. Spin anglers should do well with CAL jigs and 4” swim baits and jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters or suspending plugs. Fish the deep spots, usually on outside bends, for the best action. Full Venice Florida fishing forecast at the bottom of page.
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Trout caught last week
Chase Richter with a Tarpon around Peace River
Found this lion fish on Manasota Beach
Continued Venice Florida area fishing forecast // Full Venice Jetty fish report
You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of bars and shallow flats when the tide is low. As the tide rises, they will feed higher on shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons. 1/16-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms for reds in shallow water should work. If it is too shallow or grassy to fish an exposed hook, a Mustad or Owner weedless hook will allow you to fish plastic baits in these areas. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies, like Clousers, with weed guards on floating lines with 10’-12’ leaders. You may also find big trout in skinny water in the same places you find reds. The same lures, flies and techniques that you use to target reds will work for big trout in those areas. You could release all trout over 20” since they are usually females that are important to the health of our trout fishery.
You’ll find trout on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay, not to many deep grass flats close to the Venice Inlet but they are being caught. Flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow are good to look for. Flats that are close to the Venice Inlet and all passes are often good choices since water temperatures may be warmer there. Following fronts, silted up water will cover deep grass flats close to passes, often affecting fishing in those areas.
You can drift and cast ahead of your drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. Once you’ve located them you can shorten your drift or anchor on them.
In addition to trout, you may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano, depending on water temperature and conditions, on deeper grass flats. The technique to find them is the same as for trout, although there may be other clues. Pompano may “skip” on the surface when you drift or run past them giving their presence away. When that happens, set up a drift upwind of where you saw a pompano and cast ahead of your drift. Blues and Spanish mackerel may force bait out of the water or feed on the surface. You may need to add heavy fluorocarbon or wire when blues and mackerel are mixed with trout on deep grass flats.
Fishing docks is another good option this time of year, especially when the tide is low. You might find reds, sheepshead or flounder under docks. Good spots are docks that are deep (3’ or more) and have a good tidal flow. Fish the end of long piers to find the deepest water. Also, look for big boats moored on docks or on boat lifts, like by Crows Nest, which is also an indication of deeper water. Older docks with lots of barnacle and oyster growth usually hold more baitfish and predators. Its good to use CAL jigs with shad tails, grubs or jerk worms or weighted flies fished on sink tip fly lines when fishing docks. Be sure to let your jig or fly get down close to the bottom. Tipping a jig with small piece of fresh shrimp will up your odds for sheepshead. If you use too much it will ruin the action of your jig.
There may be some action in the coastal gulf by the end of the month with king and Spanish mackerel and cobia. When the water warms to the high 60’s to low 70’s, these fish will move into our area from the south as they migrate north. Look for Spanish mackerel on the surface or in passes. Cobia may be swimming on the surface, around buoys, channel markers and crab trap floats or over structure.
February can be a tough month to fish. With frequent fronts and cool water, fish aren’t always in an eating mood. If you’re able to pick good tides combined with favorable weather conditions, you should be successful. If you don’t have that luxury, you might do better by sleeping in and fishing later in the day when it’s warmer.
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