February brought both cold fronts with winds and high seas, and postcard days in between. Water temperatures varied from the high 50′s to the low 70′s. What this translates to is good fishing on some days, less-good to poor on other days. Even with waters chilly and in the low 60′s we saw quite a few Spanish Mackerel come over the rails this month, with some fish in excess of 20″. The Mackerel were partial to live shrimp, flashy shiny lures, and cut baits free-lined in the current. On many days we were able to keep catching the Spanish Mackerel even after dark, as they are kept around the pier because of our bright fishing lights.
Butterfish, or Silver Perch were taken in abundance on most days and evenings. Schools of these tasty small fish hold off the ends of the pier, and bite small offerings with gusto. Some anglers use a dual hook rig, and others go with a larger Sabiki rig tipped with bits of squid or shrimp. These fish can be filleted, or scaled and cooked whole.
Silver Trout have been a regular catch, with many anglers taking a dozen or more. Silver Trout have no size or bag limit, and are large enough to provide a nice little fillet. Silver Trout are taken on the multiple hook rigs as well, and tipping the small flies with a morsel of fresh shrimp is a sure way to get the bite going.
Whiting are a usual wintertime catch here, but this years’ results have been a little disconcerting. We have seen some Whiting, and some nice fish over 17″ at that, but the number of fish caught is leaving some fishermen grumbling.
Plenty of Sheepshead have been feeding around the barnacle-encrusted pilings. Sheepshead like shrimp and small crustaceans, so presenting a natural fresh small bait is a sure way to keep them interested. Down-sizing gear can be a good technique to insure success. Try a small gold hook or tiny circle hook tipped with a slice of fresh shrimp, and a small split shot. Get the Sheepshead going with a few pieces of free bait, then throw your baited hook in afterwards. The Sheepshead bite will be subtle and easy to miss; watching your line will be key to timing your hookset. With a little practice, it becomes second nature. Because the Sheepshead eats crabs, some say it tastes a bit like crabmeat. That’s reason enough to give it a try!
Flounder are a regular winter catch here, and we have seen quite a few so far. Look for more as the waters warm firmly into the 70′s. Flounder will take live shrimp, cut baits and lures with equal gusto. The Flounder is a formidable predator, but when he hits your line, it may feel more like a steady weight instead of a slamming hit. Give him time to turn the bait in his mouth before doing battle, and watch for him to shake his open mouth to throw the hook if you let him languish on the surface while you decide what do do with him.
Spotted Sea Trout have been caught in the mornings, but most of the schools show up after dark. On nights we are open late, (Fridays and Saturdays) the Spotted SeaTrout action heats up after 9 PM. On many nights we will see hundreds, if not thousands, of Spotted Sea Trout milling about under the lights, ambushing small fish that are drawn to the lights. You can use live shrimp, lures, cut baits to get the SeaTrout to bite, but they might be a bit partial to one thing or another, and their keen eyesight makes them shy to some rigs or baits. Try getting rid of all non-essential terminal tackle, and see if it helps. Spotted SeaTrout must be 15″ minimum, and one fish of your bag of four fish may be over 20″. Please be careful to follow fisheries regulations, as the FWC does send officers out here regularly, and fines for violators are steep.
Many varieties of small Sharks were caught this month, with BonnetHead and BlackTip Sharks the most common. We have a no-kill policy on all Sharks here at Pier 60. In addition, we do not allow Shark Fishing, so leave the Shark rigs at home.
March is bringing Spring to Pier 60; it is inevitable, but there will be cold fronts and interruptions. Enjoy the cool while we have it, it will be blazing hot soon enough!
On April 1st Pier 60 will start our summertime hours, which means we will be open 24hours / 7 days a week. Your fishing day will be 6 AM to 6 AM the following day.
Good Luck Fishing!