Capt. Matthew Tusa with Shore Thing Charters in Bay St. Louis says sheepshead will be your best bet in February, but fishing for redfish, black drum and flounder can heat up, if the weather warms up.

To have your best chance of catching the most inshore fish in February, watch the Weather Channel. If you can identify when two or three days of warm weather will occur between two cold fronts, pack your bags and head to the coast to catch speckled trout and redfish. Sometimes we'll have as much as a week or a week and a half of warm weather between two cold fronts.

However, if you come to Mississippi's Gulf Coast when the weather's very cold, then fish for sheepshead to catch the most fish and have the most success.

"If our section of Mississippi has good weather in February, we'll head out to the Biloxi Marsh," Tusa said. "My biggest concern at this time of year is low water. But those warm days between cold fronts means that you can catch speckled trout and redfish in the marsh, with the most-productive fishing taking place on the warmer days.

"We don't usually catch our monster trout in February, but we generally can produce 16-inch trout or better. Most of the time these trout won't be schooled. So, we'll have to cover plenty of water and pick up a trout here and there."

 

Redfish

The bull reds move into the marsh during the winter. On those warming days, you can catch quite a few of them, but you'll have to release the oversized redfish.

"The good news is you can catch those bull reds on just about any bait you cast, although live shrimp are hard to locate in February," Tusa said. "However, bull minnows are usually available, and the redfish will really tear them up. Also, spinnerbaits, especially gold ones, and soft plastics will produce this month.

"To catch those redfish, move the bait slowly. Remember, the redfish aren't feeding aggressively and won't charge baits like they will in warmer weather.

"Instead, drag your bait, especially soft plastics, across the bottom, to make a sound. Also, the little puff of mud the bait makes allows redfish to see and hear the bait better."

 

Speckled trout

When I'm fishing for February speckled trout, I'll stick to plastic grubs, shrimp imitations and live bait," Tusa said. "Look for the trout near deep water. Although a warm front doesn't mean trout will leave deep water and automatically appear in shallow water, they will pull up in the deep water and feed out a ways from it.

"Sometimes I'll fish just a Fluke with a straight hook and no lead with a really slow retrieve. I'll twitch the Fluke, let it fall, twitch it and allow it to fall.

"If you're fishing on a cold day, move out to deeper water with little or no current. The trout don't want to work too hard to get themselves something to eat during February."

 

Sheepshead

February is the month when the sheepshead fishing really fires up. Your best place to find them is around the bridges at Bay St. Louis and Biloxi. You even can go out into Chandeleur Sound where the sheepshead stay on the rigs all winter long.

This month you'll probably catch sheepshead weighing up to 8 pounds and perhaps even bigger than that. To catch them, Tusa uses a Kahle hook with 1 1/2 to 2 feet of leader tied to a barrel swivel. Next, he puts a slip sinker up the main line (the size of the sinker depends on the current where you're fishing). Then he ties the main line to the barrel swivel that's attached to the leader and Kahle hook. He baits with dead shrimp or preferably live shrimp, if he can find them.

 

Black drum

"Oftentimes when we're fishing for sheepshead, we'll catch some black drum, often ganged-up like redfish," Tusa said. "In February, the black drum, not as glamorous-looking as redfish but just as delicious, are more of an incidental catch. We usually catch a couple of black drum each time we go out fishing in February. Sometimes the black drum will be sitting on the shallow flats in the marsh."

 

A February catch

In February, if our area experiences a cold front, we'll go to the deeper bayous and fish really slowly there," Tusa said. "If this region has a strong northwest wind, I'll move to the bridges and pilings and fish primarily for sheepshead. On a really cold February day, fishing for sheepshead will be your best bet. Redfish and black drum are secondary targets. Maybe if the weather's not too bad, you can try for speckled trout, but you'll have fun no matter the weather."

Capt. Matthew Tusa can be reached at (228) 342-2295.