Windy Weather Blows in Some Good Key West Action Fishing

February in Key West got going with the typical winter alteration between arriving cold fronts bringing strong north-northeast winds and brief warming periods that allow the water to warm up a bit but may also bring stiff breezes out of the southeast. Wind direction rather than velocity is generally the more crucial factor for Key West Charter fishing because even relatively light southeast winds fetching off the open ocean will build more wave height and create rougher water than stronger north winds that are naturally blocked by the Keys, which allows for fairly calm waters off the leeward shores. In the first few days of the month, some Fish Key West charter trips had to be canceled when stiff southeast breezes created conditions too rough for comfortable fishing, and most of February remained breezy in general.

On the other hand, the fish tend to bite more aggressively when the water is choppy, and Key West fishermen ready to brave a bit of rough water found some good light tackle action fishing with the Amberjack, Black Grouper, Blackfin Tuna, Cero, Mutton Snapper, and Yellowtail all biting hard. Many of the Shark species were also eating baits well, while Sailfish and Mahi-Mahi remained scarce for most of the month. Tarpon are normally hit and miss in February, but some fishermen who timed the weather correctly to get out during the humid warm spells were able to make some hookups in a preview of the traditional Tarpon season start in March. Out in the Backcountry Flats, warm days later in the month that pushed water temperatures to about 72 degrees were really good for getting shots at Permit. The Flats also offered plenty of Crevalle Jacks and big Barracuda hanging around and keeping rods bent and lines tight. Out in the blue water, the bite turned back on with the full moon on the 25th, and captains who were willing to run out 18 miles to the deep waters of the wall were able to get into the Blackfin Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, and even the occasional Blue Marlin.

The first days of February also saw a Flats-specific fishing tournament go off as the 3rd Annual Key West Cuda Bowl launched out of Stock Island’s Hurricane Hole Marina on the 1st and 2nd of the month. The Cuda Bowl is designed for Flats fisherman ready to catch and release big Barracuda on artificial flies and lures fished in 8 feet of water or less. All fishing must be done from a Flats Boat equipped with a poling tower, with the field limited to 20 boats. Scoring is based on the 3 longest fish caught, measured, and photographed each day.

The Cuda Bowl Spin Division crown was taken by Lance Gleason of Missoula Montana, who worked with Captain Justin Rea to release 15 fish in two days, and score a total length of 246.5 inches of fish. The Fly Division Championship was reeled in by Nathaniel Clark Linville, owner of The Angling Company in Key West. Nathaniel and his guide Captain Aaron Snell brought 5 fish boatside to score 184.75 inches of fish total. Tom del Bosque of Plantation, FL brought in a 46.5-inch monster Barracuda on spin tackle to take home the prize for largest fish in the Spin Division. Fly Division winner Nathaniel Clark Linville also managed to snag the largest Cuda in his division by successfully fighting a 42-inch fish on fly gear.

The Cuda Bowl also captures the real Key West sport fishing spirit by requiring the winning teams to buy a round for all participants in a true display of good sportsmanship. The 2013 edition of this unique competition saw a lot of hard-fighting light tackle action and a good time had by all.

One thing Key West did not have in February was freezing weather and snow storms. If you are tired of winter and would like a head start on spring weather and some great fishing, contact Fish Key West to book a trip for the beginning of the Tarpon run in March.