Hubbard's Marina Fishing Report

Inshore Fishing Report

Snook are feeding well around the area again this past week and we are seeing a more moderate tidal flow through the weekend and start of next week so fishing maybe a bit more tough until later in the work week when the new moon gets water moving once again. These snook are very focused on the presence of the bait and are moving and staying in areas where their prey is most prevalent. We don’t have any big systems moving through the area this coming week so the fish shouldn’t be moving around too much. Plus, with calmer conditions the water will clear up considerably making the snook a bit more leader shy as well with clearer water. We do have some higher than normal tides coming this week allowing the fish to get up on the mangrove shore lines more than normal and push into areas that are typically too shallow to feed. On those high tides, look for the snook in those areas that are 1-2ft deep that would be normally exposed at lower to mid tides. The passes are still holding some fish, but the majority of action is moving to the back bays. Soft plastics, swim baits, and jerk baits are all working well for artificials. Pinfish, pigfish, white bait and shrimp are all good live bait options for the snook too. Dock lights at night remain a great area to find hungry snook when water is moving and bait is present.

Redfish action has been steady lately, nothing crazy, but when you can find the fish they are ready to eat in most cases. Look for the redfish around those oyster bars, mangroves, and grass flats. We are also finding them around the docks, piers, and bridges where the sandy bottom allows them to cruise and transverse areas looking for crustaceans and greenbacks. Soft plastics remain the best option all around for the redfish, but bucktails work well, gold spoons, and in low light conditions like early morning the surface lures provide exciting strikes.

Trout action is a bit tougher than historic levels, but you are able to find areas holding active trout. Look for them around those cuts, potholes, and edges of the flats. Also, dock lines, bridges, and piers holding them when the bait is present. We are seeing them around those dock lights and bridge lights at night when bait is concentrated. Soft plastics, shrimp or white bait are great options for targeting the trout around the area.

Mangrove snapper are still mixed in with the sheepshead around local structures and rock piles. However, they are becoming smaller sized as many of the bigger mangroves make their way out of the back bays and into the near shore waters.

Sheepshead are getting to be more and more prolific around local structures like docks, piers, bridges, jetties, seawalls and rock piles. Look for them using fiddler crabs, live shrimp, cut clams or oysters. While doing so, use that lighter tackle like 15-20lb test and 1ot hook and minimal weight. You can also find them cruising the oyster bars around the flats and sometimes those mangrove shore lines will hold good numbers too.

Flounder action is good around the area, but they are still in a spawning closure until December 1st. Once they’re open you will find them around those sandy areas near the passes as they make their way back inshore from those near shore spawning sites adjacent to the big structures near shore. Passes like pass a grille, blinds pass, bunces pass, johns pass and others are great areas to find them around the structures hanging on that sandy bottom. Drifting the sand bars; working the bottom with soft plastics, pompano jigs, or drifting live shrimp are all great techniques for targeting them.

Pompano have been steady around the area lately too and should really pick up more and more through early spring. They spawn in  the summertime which makes them harder to find, but behind the first few big fronts they concentrate along the beaches, passes, and sandbars to hunt for crustaceans like crabs, sandfleas and shrimp. Once the water gets cooler those warm water outflows are great areas to target them, such as the power plants and areas where shallow back bay areas discharge.

Triple tail are still super prevalent around the area’s floating debris, markers and buoys. Throughout stone crab season we see these guys on the crab trap buoys, but they are especially thick right now. Tricky part at this time is finding some larger ones to keep as they now have to be eighteen inches to take home.

Nearshore Fishing Report

Hogfish action is really heating up around the area now and were hoping to see the trend continue. This past Monday we went out for a ten hour and caught around 26 keeper hogfish hunting from spot to spot in around 40-60ft of water. We are seeing a few hogs here, and a few there while bouncing between those small ledges, hard bottom areas, and rock piles near shore. Lighter tackle, live shrimp, and a lot of patience will help you get after the hogfish. We saw the nekid ball jigs, jig heads and the knocker rigs all work well this past week as far as techniques but you can catch them on the typical fish finder rig too. Live shrimp is key when targeting the hogfish near shore, but you need a ton of them as many other species love to eat the live shrimp too!

Gag grouper action is really picking up near shore at this time too. We are seeing them really start to fill in the near shore waters between the hot offshore areas that have been producing well and the steady inshore gags of Tampa bay. We are now seeing more and more of these guys around 40-100ft of water near shore around the ledges, rock piles and bigger structures hunting the frisky live baits, butterflied dead baits and sometimes even large live shrimp.

Mangrove snapper action is steady near shore, not crazy, but you can find some nice ones while hunting the hogfish or gag grouper near shore. Look for them on the live shrimp using a jig head or knocker rig or a small chunk of threadfin on the double snell rig.

Lane snapper are still closed but should hopefully be re-opening soon. Luckily, we know they must reopen after January first. These guys are thick near shore and seemingly get bigger and bigger all the time. We find them using shrimp, small threadfin chunks or even cut squid.

Kingfish action near shore is still possible, but definitely wasn’t like what we are used too. We never saw huge concentrations of kings near shore this year due to the red tide issues on our coast lines coinciding with when we historically see the kingfish show up. There’s still some around and some mackerel too, but the bait schools we typically see just didn’t exist or got killed off in the red tide blooms so we haven’t seen big areas of the kings this fall.

Offshore Fishing Report

Gag grouper is the king of the offshore report right now. Last weekend’s full moon trip absolutely destroyed the gag grouper despite terrible weather conditions. Even with 5-7ft seas with the occasional 9ft rogue wave they brought home nearly 90 keeper gag grouper for the few anglers fishing. Many anglers in our area are seeing the same thing on longer runs beyond 30-50 miles offshore. Big live baits, big tackle and timing your trips around the weather is key. Right before a front and right behind a front in deep water is best. It looks like this weekend, and start of this week should bring similar conditions with weak fronts moving through the area. We are hoping for another killer trip on our weekend 39 hour and the long range twelve hour extreme trips as well as the private fishing charters here at Hubbard’s Marina. Luckily, pinfish is getting easier to get in our area which really helps to target the gag grouper out deep. However, if you run  out of  the live bait from shore the big live baits you get out there like the porgies, white grunts, and others make for great bait and you can even butterfly them to target the gag grouper in deep offshore waters.

Scamp grouper are biting well if you make it out there closer to 160ft of water or more. We are seeing them most often while targeting mangrove snapper with smaller pinfish or cut threadfin. They are often around the areas we target mangroves and gag grouper in the deeper offshore waters.

Mangrove snapper action is going really well for us offshore too beyond 100-120ft of water. We are seeing some large mangroves in good numbers. This past long range trip brought one mangrove nearly 10lbs back to the dock. Double snell rigs really help to target the mangroves with 40-60lb test and around 6ot hooks.

Blackfin tuna are thick offshore right now with many moving past our area as they spawn this time of year up to our north. We will find them well around the next few weeks trolling lipped plugs, cedar plugs, dredges and skirts. Also, flat line fishing is a great way to get a few blackfin while bottom fishing. We are seeing them come up while people are reeling in live and dead baits from the bottom too.

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