Advertisement

Where to Fish in February

Find the best spots to find your favorite species in February.

Updated:

January 5, 2022

The Salt Water Sportsman editors list the top two locations to fish in February for some of the most popular species, plus notes about each fish-location pairing.

Pacific blue marlin

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific blue marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Ecuador

Second choice: New Zealand

Advertisement

Big blues, 500 pounds and up, are abundant and on the prowl off Ecuador’s fabled Marlin Boulevard, keeping waters off Salinas, Isla de la Plata and Manta atop the marlin destinations list in the Pacific. Warm currents bring an influx of blue marlin closer to Kiwi shores this time of year, increasing opportunity to tangle with specimens in the 300- to 500-pound range.

Atlantic blue marlin

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil

Second choice: Grenada

Advertisement

Now is when anglers find a greater number of big girls patrolling Royal Charlotte Bank and surroundings, near Cabo Frio, Brazil. Little fishing pressure and the potential to hook a grander make this a premier spot for blues this time of year. In Grenada, the seasonal abundance of forage draws plenty of 150- to 350-pounders to the two major drop-offs nearby.

black marlin

Black Marlin

Black marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama

Second choice: Australia

Advertisement

It’s peak time for blacks off Panama’s Pacific coast, where boats trolling bridled live bonito or small tuna are frequently rewarded with 200- to 500-pounders, especially around acclaimed hotspots like Hannibal Bank, Coiba and Montuosa islands, and outside Piñas Bay. The annual mackerel run off Gold Coast, Australia, brings with it 

White marlin

White Marlin

White marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil

Second choice: Mexico

Advertisement

The bite off Vitoria, Brazil, remains reliable, promising multiple hookups even on slow days. The trophy size of the fish, many of which weigh over 100 pounds, is another major attraction. Mexico’s Yucatan Channel becomes a dependable staging spot for migrating whites this time of year. Expect fish to show up whenever forage becomes abundant off Cozumel, Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

Atlantic sailfish

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Mexico

In Florida, sailfishing is in full swing, with top crews from Stuart to the Keys enjoying days with crazy release numbers that rival those common in Central America. Sailfish steadily increase in numbers in Yucatan waters, first off Puerto Aventuras and Cozumel, then off Cancun and Isla Mujeres, where the hottest action usually takes place during peak season, starting in about six weeks.

Pacific sailfish

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala

Second choice: Costa Rica

Guatemala gameboats frequently fly a dozen or more release flags on the way back to Iztapa and Puerto Quetzal this time of year, when sailfish action is hot and heavy. Light-tackle and fly anglers won’t find a better place and time to tune techniques and enjoy the fruits of their efforts. In Costa Rica, superb sailfishing expands northward from Drake Bay and Golfo Dulce to Quepos, Los Sueños and Carrillo.

striped marlin

Striped Marlin

Striped marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Ecuador

Second choice: Mexico

Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands overtake Mexico’s Baja Peninsula in terms of striped marlin numbers this month as the handful of charter boats regularly fishing the area record 20 or more daily hookups when the fish go on the feed. In Cabo San Lucas, however, now is when many stripes are spotted on top, and anglers get to pitch liveys to fish slowly surfing the waves.

Wahoo

Wahoo

Wahoo Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas

Second choice: Louisiana

Striped torpedoes dominate the offshore-fishing landscape in the Bahamas, where legendary waters off San Salvador and Cat Island historically continue to produce trophy catches this month. Better known for its tuna fishing, southeast Louisiana also yields solid wahoo numbers during winter, including some 50- to 60-pounders often found off Venice, around oil rigs 15 to 30 miles out.

yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana

Second choice: Mexico

The robust tuna fishery off Venice, Louisiana, offers chances at larger fish this time of year as specimens weighing as much as 150 pounds come calling, and structures like the renowned Midnight Lump become prime spots. Canyons off Puerto Vallarta and Colima, and various offshore banks off Baja heat up now, making Mexico’s west coast a top region for yellowfins surpassing 200 pounds.

blackfin tuna

Blackfin Tuna

Blackfin tuna Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Louisiana

A number of underwater pinnacles off the Florida Keys host hungry blackfins this time of year. Live baits free-lined on long, 30-pound fluoro leaders get a lot of 8- to 15-pounders, but removable sinkers placed where the leader and fishing line meet get baits down to the heftier specimens. In southeast Louisiana, chumming behind shrimp boats anchored in the Gulf brings roaming blackfins within range.

bonefish

Bonefish

Bonefish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize

Second choice: Bahamas

Milder winter temps keep bones on the flats in Belize, where visiting anglers can expect schools of 2- to 4-pounders to continue to frequent shallow flats and shoals. Look for protected coves and flats on the lee side of islands and atolls to afford more shots at tailers. In the Bahamas, falling mercury sends fish to creeks and channels, where they gather in schools and mill around, scouring the bottom for forage.

snook

Snook

Snook Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Belize

Now is when linesiders in Florida seek shelter from the cold by going up rivers or hunkering in the deeper parts of the Intracoastal Waterway and residential canals. For best results, fish bucktails or Troll Rites slow and close to the bottom, especially around underwater ledges, rocks, bridges and docks. In Belize, coastal rivers—from the mouth to the first bend—promise good catches.

Tarpon

Tarpon

Tarpon Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Puerto Rico

South Florida is home to superb winter tarpon fishing as fish congregate in Miami’s Government Cut and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, where they find plenty of food and agreeable temperatures in deeper water. Look for packs of fish to patrol adjacent beaches during calm periods. In Puerto Rico, tarpon stack up in the San Juan lagoons of San Jose and La Torrecilla, and Boqueron Bay near Cabo Rojo.

Permit

Permit

Permit Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize

Second choice: Florida

The fertile shoals and grass flats lining the coast of Belize still provide the best opportunity to connect with a permit on fly or light tackle this month. Small packs hovering in 4 to 8 feet of water around the outer atolls are slightly less skittish than their shallow-flats counterparts. In South Florida, expect permit fishing on the flats to improve steadily as March approaches.

red drum

Red Drum

Red Drum Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana

Second choice: Florida

In Louisiana, blue-bird days following a cold front offer ideal conditions to hunt for bulls on the lee side of outer islands and shoals in Breton and Chandeleur sounds. There should be no shortage of slot-size reds in the myriad duck ponds and connecting bayous. In Florida, winter tides make flats access more challenging, but the lower, clearer water makes spotting fish easier.

striped bass

Striped Bass

Striped bass Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: California

Second choice: North Carolina

This is a peak period for striper fishing in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento Delta. Both jigging and trolling around reefs and sunken, man-made structure should pay off handsomely. In North Carolina, protected waters in the Neuse and Pamlico rivers, as well as deep shorelines in Pamlico and Albemarle sounds offer productive prospects. The presence of forage is key.

swordfish

Swordfish

Swordfish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: California

It’s big sword time in South Florida, where seasoned broadbill hunters boat an increasing number of fish exceeding 250 pounds. However, with strong winds and rough seas more likely, anglers on smaller boats ought to keep a close eye on the marine forecast, and fish primarily during daylight hours. In Southern California, reliable swordfishing continues until water temps drop below 60 degrees.

king mackerel

King Mackerel

King mackerel Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: North Carolina

The smoker king bite in Florida remains red-hot, especially west of Key West, where monsters as large as 90 pounds have been caught in the past. Waters surrounding Boca Grande Pass and other major passes and inlets should also be productive. In North Carolina, king mackerel fishing off the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast is past its prime but remains worthwhile.

seatrout
Seatrout Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana

Second choice: Florida

Cold weather in Louisiana concentrates big speckled trout in protected coves and over mudflats, especially around oyster bars, where they find it easy to ambush baitfish and crustaceans. In Florida, gator trout (fish exceeding 4 pounds) venture into shallow waters. Look for them lurking along the edges of channels, and in prop scars and sand holes scattered about on shallow grass flats. 

mahimahi

Dolphin

Dolphin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama

Second choice: Mexico

Traveling in pairs and trios, big bulls and cows provide plenty of sport and great table fare for offshore anglers off Panama’s Pacific coast this month. In Mexico, dorado are plentiful enough off various stretches of the Pacific coast—especially from the Baja Peninsula to Puerto Vallarta—to sometimes become a nuisance for big-game anglers targeting billfish.

Advertisement

More Travel

Advertisement
Advertisement