What is Fishing Key West like in February? It’s awesome! The middle of winter for Key West and the rest of the country February can have the coldest days of the year and that can turn on the fishing.
February is a great time to visit Key West for its night life island living and the fishing. Not a ton of people here in the start of the month as it gets progressively busier toward the end as Key West is starting to fill up for tourist season. Usually things go from sleepy to hectic right after the Super Bowl and Valentines Day.
The middle of winter in Key West is still paradise for folks from places like Wisconsin or Michigan where frigid temps are in the news weekly. Our air temps settle in at a nice 74 degree average with some days in the 80s and the cold fronts dropping us to the low 60s. North winds during the cold fronts and South Easterlies after. This really sets up our area well for a miriad of fishing based off the winds.
With the winds and temps fluctuating from day to day the shallows are the fist place to take effect from a cold front or warming trend. Many folks like fishing inshore this time of the year due to the conditions being more favorable to calmer seas.
My anglers just love Backcountry fishing in February. With our winter time cast of characters that eat just about anything that is casted to them Backcountry fishing is a very popular way to go fishing in Key West. Lure fishing and live bait always turn out a nice group of fish species to reward any anglers that wish to get out and wet a line. On a rare occasion there can be a push of big tarpon fishing during a warming trend that I will certainly be paying attention to so I can my anglers on them.
Fishing the backcountry in February is a great trip for kids, new fishermen, bass fishermen or anyone that doesn’t want to see big waves yet go fishing. In February our backcountry fish species are Speckled sea trout, jack crevalle, pompano, blue runners, lady fish, sharks, mutton snapper, mangrove snapper, cobia, redfish, snook and barracudas. Just to name a few.
I will not say that February is my favorite month for flats fishing unless… The East or South East winds are in play and the water temps are warmer or warming, then it’s GAME ON for some serious sight fishing for permit on the flats. Fly fishing is exceptional on the flats this month for many different species such as barracudas, jacks and smaller sharks. A great time for new fly fishermen.
So the name of the game on the flats is always sight fishing. Permit, Barracudas, jacks and mutton snapper are the regular cast of characters with the occasional red fish. Fly fishing or light tackle spin fishing are great.
With a consistent flow of cold fronts right in the middle of our Key West winter the deeper waters are still not affected by the cooler temps. However, The warmer waters of the Gulf Stream has a tendency to be a bit farther offshore.
Deep Sea fishing is hit or miss making our reef fishing a good backup plan for February. The snake-like behavior of the Gulf Stream makes changes from day to day out there. One day its blue water palegics the next it’s working the reef for kingfish, barracudas, tunas and bonito. Let’s not take away the never ending possibilities of sailfish. So, I would call it a mix bag month for deep sea fishing.
The winter time here in Key West holds a good number of different species of fish including Bonito, Blackfin Tunas, Kingfish, Cero Mackerel, Occasional Sailfish, Dolphi (mahi Mahi) and wahoo.
A very popular month for reef fishing here in Key West. Tons of ballyhoo and other baits are on the reef making easy prey for predators. North winds from the cold fronts make the reef a great place to fish for just about anything that is tasty to fill the cooler with some filets. Not unrealistic for a 4 hour reef fishing charter to provide good fun and a decent meal or two with some of the tastiest food fish on the planet.
Watch your weather and plan accordingly. The reef can have some of the best eating fish found anywhere. When reef fishing, anglers can expect yellowtail snappers, mutton snappers, yellow jacks, kingfish, cero mackerel and the occasional sailfish, Grouper season is closed in the Atlantic till May.
Fishing in the Gulf this month is great for cobia on the wrecks making them easy targets for live baits and artificial lures. Weather can make the Gulf fishing hit or miss but there can be some great action out there with snapper, some permit and kingfish. The lane snapper fishing and mutton snapper in the winter is great. Also, the Gulf is still open for grouper in February.
Everyone in the charter business is either getting ramped up or already rolling day to day fishing in Key West in February. Some folks roll the dice and plan on the weather last minute to book and that works 75% of the time early in the month, no so much later in the month as we slide into our tourist season. The backcountry fishing charters are very popular as is the deep sea private charters and split or shared fishing charters.