Northeast Florida Surf Fishing Report (February 2024)

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Northeast Florida Surf Fishing Report (February 2024)


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      February 1, 2024 at 5:23 pm

      The fishing this Winter in Northeast Florida has been a bit crazy! On one hand there are those who have been catching pompano consistently even in colder waters and others who have been getting skunked consistently. Here in Flagler County the water is cold and dirty, yet a few weekends ago people were catching bluefish to rival those found up north, topping lengths over three feet! I’ve never heard of bluefish that big down here in the time I’ve lived here!

      Because winter surf fishing can be so tricky, I’ll be giving you some tips for how you can be successful on the sand in February.


      Fresh dead shrimp has been the winner for me lately (when the fish are cooperating) as well as sand fleas (when I can find them!). One big mistake I see when people are baiting up shrimp is that they will use frozen shrimp that have thawed out and the brains are bright orange, hook it right through the center of the body, and throw that out. There may be some fish able to get their mouths around that, but most won’t. I have found the best thing to do is the pull the head and the tail off of live shrimp (fish like fresh food too) and then pinch it in half or cut it into thirds if it is a larger shrimp. Then thread this onto the hook and tip it with a small piece of synthetic bait like Fishgum or Fishbites to help hold it on. It will give you a greater chance of a hookup and not just getting stolen off the hook by the next hungry speckled crab that happens by your line.

      For those of us who like to use Diet Pepsi shrimp, the water is just now getting to the right temperature of 58 degrees or colder. I have no idea why or how it works; I just know it does, so try it!

      I mentioned sandfleas above. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen colonies for a while now, but the days when I have been able to scrounge up a handful, the fish have been biting on them. “but how do I find sandfleas when I don’t’ see any?” I’m glad you asked! Here’s what I do: Find a spot where the waves are crossing over each other as they are coming in, this will typically be where a smaller runout could be and where the bait is getting washed in and out, and where I have found sandfleas to be more plentiful. As long as there are not a ton of shells there, take your rake and get down to where those waves are crossing and walk backward with the rake while the wave is washing back out. Your footsteps should unearth any of those little mole crabs that are hiding in that zone, and you’ll can usually pick up one or two at a time with this method. Be patient and persistent (and don’t be afraid to get wet!).

      Weather and Water Temps

      We have had some really terrible conditions for fishing lately; and the wind has been the main culprit! Even days like yesterday when it was nice and sunny, the wind was pulling away at the lines, making it hard to decipher if a fish is nibbling or the wind is just catching it.
      Water temperature has really dropped and is now around 59 degrees from Jacksonville down through Flagler Beach and further south.
      My biggest tip for the weather is to use an app like Surfline that can give you wind speeds, direction, gust info, as well as tide info and accurate water temperature for the surf. I always check several beaches on the app before deciding where to go. A few minutes of preparation can save you a lot of heartache on the beach! If you decide to brave a windy cold day, make sure you dress in layers. You can always take a sweatshirt off if it gets too warm.

      February Strategy

      I know I have said it in the past, but it’s worth repeating: know what fish are running now and you’ll be able to target them. You could be wasting your time targeting fish that are not even around. Right now you can expect to be catching whiting, bluefish, sharks, black drum, spotfish, and catfish.

      If you want to try to chase pompano, you may be in for a bit of a drive to reach waters that are warm enough for them to run in. If you’re not a part of any groups online like Salt Strong or Facebook groups, I have included a few links to some wonderful saltwater fishing groups below that offer a lot of information either in the form of discussions on Facebook groups or in online courses like the Surf Fishing Mastery Course by Matthew Isbell (Bama Beach Bum) in the Salt Strong platform. These groups have been really helpful for me and have helped me grow immensely as an angler!

      I hope this has been helpful. Tight lines!

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