Where to go in Florida Jan/Feb - Destin ? Naples ?

Moots

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Hi Everyone:

Wondering what peoples thoughts are on where to go for Jan/Feb for FlyFishing ? Salt or Fresh but thinking Salt, I love to wade fish (home is Colorado) but I also have a FlyCraft raft with trolling motor so the sky's the limit. I am open to any location that is not too far South. I have done some initial research on this forum and the web. Destin keeps popping up for all of the above so curious to what folks here think if you could go anywhere in the upper half of Florida ? Also interested in areas that are not quite as popular.

thanks!

Dave
 
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mikemac1

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What do you want to target? Saltwater or Freshwater. Not sure a raft is that suitable for open inshore waters unless you really luck out on weather. Wind is always an issue as fronts move through the Florida area. If you want to fish for Exotics, bass and bream then I might recommend the Myakka River area just east of Sarasota. There is some excellent freshwater fishing in the headwater reaches of the river (including two lakes) and in winter Snook move into the lower Myakka. A raft would be an excellent tool there. Close to Sarasota, there are a lot of amenities available close by.
 
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Moots

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What do you want to target? Saltwater or Freshwater. Not sure a raft is that suitable for open inshore waters unless you really luck out on weather. Wind is always an issue as fronts move through the Florida area. If you want to fish for Exotics, bass and bream then I might recommend the Myakka River area just east of Sarasota. There is some excellent freshwater fishing in the headwater reaches of the river (including too lakes) and in winter Snook move into the lower Myakka. A raft would be an excellent tool there. Close to Sarasota, there are a lot of amenities available close by.
Thanks for the reply...thinking Saltwater although I have Freshwater rigs with me. I hear you on rafting in big bodies of water so will deal accordingly. Probably not that far South because of a Bernese Mountain Dog with me so thinking a bit cooler temps. As far as what types of fish, don't really care but Red's are always a good choice !
 

mikemac1

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Not a lot of temperature difference between Sarasota area (70/50) and Pensacola area (65/40) in January/February. Cooler temps make targeting seatrout and reds a bit tougher unless you really know the area. On the other hand, snook become very predictable as the weather cools. They move deep into estuaries and rivers holding warmer waters. Are you camping or working out of lodging. If camping, I can highly recommend Fort DeSoto County Park in Pinellas County (St Petersburg, FL) as a good winter saltwater destination. Good camping, great water access, and reliable fishing (including wade fishing) both in open inshore waters and protected mangrove backwaters. It would take years to explore everything Fort DeSoto has to offer. Give it a look.
 

okaloosa

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I lived in Destin area for 30 years....Jan/Feb is not a good time to fish and the weather can be downright unpleasant. Naples is a much better choice that time of year.....no matter where though, that time a year a cold front can shut down fishing overnight.
Having said that, I did catch my biggest specks in Destin area in Jan/Feb but that was fishing very cold sunny days in the lower 30's at the back of the bayous in 1 to 2 feet of water over mud flats where trout would try to warm up....but still, south florida is where you want to be after freezing your butt for the last couple months in crested butte.....
 

Redrock

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Pine island Sound. Hire a guide in Matlacha for a day to learn the ropes a little before heading out on your own. Gregg McKee at wildflycharters.com does a good job.
 

Moots

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I lived in Destin area for 30 years....Jan/Feb is not a good time to fish and the weather can be downright unpleasant. Naples is a much better choice that time of year.....no matter where though, that time a year a cold front can shut down fishing overnight.
Having said that, I did catch my biggest specks in Destin area in Jan/Feb but that was fishing very cold sunny days in the lower 30's at the back of the bayous in 1 to 2 feet of water over mud flats where trout would try to warm up....but still, south florida is where you want to be after freezing your butt for the last couple months in crested butte.....
It looks like the average temps for that time of year are 60's which is perfectly fine by me, I can see the occasional cold snap but low 30's ? Anyway I am in Charleston area for couple months before heading down that way, just not sure how far to drive :) So temps in the mid 60's with higher on occasion are fine by me. It seems the Destin area has all that but if you lived there 30 years you would know !
 

mikemac1

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As you get closer to heading down to FL, pay close attention to the prevailing water temps (Tides4Fishing). It is the water temps that impact the fishing the most, not so much the air temps. I’ve fished in the Tampa region when it was in the 40s, but the water still was holding around the high 60s. Speckled Trout and Snook are temp sensitive. Once temps head into the 60s snook head for the rivers and deep estuaries and trout head deep. The farther south in FL you go along the Gulf coast, the better the water temps will be in Jan/Feb.
 

okaloosa

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It looks like the average temps for that time of year are 60's which is perfectly fine by me, I can see the occasional cold snap but low 30's ? Anyway I am in Charleston area for couple months before heading down that way, just not sure how far to drive :) So temps in the mid 60's with higher on occasion are fine by me. It seems the Destin area has all that but if you lived there 30 years you would know !
The better Destin area fly fishing guides relocate from Nov thru Feb to Mississippi Delta to fish for reds...If fishing was good in Destin at that time they wouldnt leave their homes and families for 3 months or more..
BTW, humid and 50-60 and overcast is not really enjoyable... I now live in Colorado Springs..I understand how 40 sunny and dry can be great...
but Florida doesn't work that way.....But the average weather in Destin is only about 3 degrees warmer than Charleston in December so that may give you an idea what Jan and Feb will be like in Destin......
 
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joe_strummer

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Pine Island Sound can be great. The motel on piers by the drawbridge is a great place to stay in Matlacha. Don't order anything but dometic beer from the bar down the street.

I fished with McKee once, he was ok.

Tidal currents can suck a TM battery a dead.
 

labradorguy

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It may be the Florida panhandle, but Destin can suck that time of year.
Naples, no contest.
 

Moots

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Not a lot of temperature difference between Sarasota area (70/50) and Pensacola area (65/40) in January/February. Cooler temps make targeting seatrout and reds a bit tougher unless you really know the area. On the other hand, snook become very predictable as the weather cools. They move deep into estuaries and rivers holding warmer waters. Are you camping or working out of lodging. If camping, I can highly recommend Fort DeSoto County Park in Pinellas County (St Petersburg, FL) as a good winter saltwater destination. Good camping, great water access, and reliable fishing (including wade fishing) both in open inshore waters and protected mangrove backwaters. It would take years to explore everything Fort DeSoto has to offer. Give it a look.
Thanks for the update..I will be renting a house or townhome somewhere for a month or so.
It may be the Florida panhandle, but Destin can suck that time of year.
Naples, no contest.
So not going only for the fishing, should have that made that clear before. Road bikes, MTB bikes, beach, food drink etc with the wife and dog. Fishing is part of the package.
 

okaloosa

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Thanks for the update..I will be renting a house or townhome somewhere for a month or so.

So not going only for the fishing, should have that made that clear before. Road bikes, MTB bikes, beach, food drink etc with the wife and dog. Fishing is part of the package.
In that case Destin that time of year is much less congested and the people and culture of the panhandle more laid back than south Florida.
 

bonefish41

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Surely you're not considering Naples proper as in west of old 41...with a giant squared headed giant Bernese or Pyrenees or Newf walking the beach coming upon Madam with her King Charles or Toy anything...she'll have you chopping weeds on the trail doin county time for assault
 
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