When I’m braving the brutal winter of Pensacola, Florida with temperatures dipping down into the bone chilling lower 40s, I still go fishing. I do it as a patriotic tribute to the poor souls in the Northeast and Midwest, who instead of casting a fishing rod are brandishing snow shovels and dreaming of a warm beach anywhere. Plus, we have a good redfish and speckled trout bite during the winter months. In fact, depending on your geography, winter can be deliver some of the best fishing. Take Central America, a place anyone from Boston or New York or Chicago would kill to be during February. Winter is the best time to catch marlin and sailfish in places like Costa Rica or Panama. As we move into springtime the billfish thin out but then, the inshore species start to heat up.
“We catch lots of cubera snapper, roosterfish, tuna, grouper and even some marlin during the spring season,” said Mark Carlson of Tropic Star Lodge in Panama. “It’s still a great time to fish and enjoy the amazing fishing, the culture and the climate.”
After five or six months of being buried in the snow, anywhere south of 33 degrees latitude sounds good, says Merrill Squires, a GH magazine associate based in Connecticut. “We spent most of the winter huddled around a fire with a blanket wrapped over us,’’ Squires said. “The heater was running full tilt but couldn’t seem to keep up. I finally packed up the wife and kids and headed to Key West just to keep from going crazy.” It’s was a sound plan.
I feel sorry for those non-Floridians who had to endure a Hell-frozen-over winter. But we’ve passed through that bitterness into the beauty of spring when red robins sing love songs, pear blossoms bloom and fishing is heats up from stripers in New Jersey to snapper in Panama.
“We’re known for our incredible billfish,” Carlson said, “which is why Guy Harvey’s been to Tropic Star more than 50 times. But the word is getting out about our amazing spring inshore fishing too. And more people are taking advantage of that season as well.”
Hail to springtime weather and good fishing! And try not to think about next winter. Want a way to get the most out of your trip? TSL is offering a 4th Day of Free Fishing!
See a video of some great catches in Panama with Big Water Adventures: