HM Fishing Report 2-17-23

Inshore Report

Right now, the sheepshead bite is going well in shore we’re seeing a lot of sheepsheads around our docks Piers bridges and jetties. The sheepshead are super active biting small pieces of shrimp, clams, oysters, barnacles, and even fiddler crabs. Barnacles are a great option for those sheepsheads especially if you it to a dock early and scrape some barnacles off the pilings you can get those sheepsheads chummed up and feed and actively before you drop down a Barnacle in front of them. Light tackle and minimum weight is a great option when targeting those sheepshead typically we target them similarly to how we would target hog fish near shore. Except for those sheep’s that are even a little leader shy and can be a little bit finicky especially if you can see them and they can see you.

Trout action is going well in the Back Bay area especially in areas of shallower grass flats especially the edges potholes are cuts you can find those trout stacked up and ready to ambush passing crustaceans soft plastics are so moving lures. Trout are typically in small groups so when you find one feeding trout typically there’s going to be closer by as well. Trout have a softer mouth, so you must use a little slower action rod with a little softer tip when targeting those trout slow moving soft plastics are a great option, but live shrimp free lined out there on the flats has been working well too. We’re seeing some of those trout around our dock lights and bridge lights at night as well but this time of year when the water is cooler, the action is during the day on the flats whereas the summertime those dock lights and bridge lights become more common for bigger concentrations of the speckled trout.

Snook action is going well on the Back Bay waters especially on these little warming periods we see a lot of those snook really get active and pour out of the Back Bay waters where we see them really get tucked up in the creek’s rivers and bayous when that water temperature drops, and the cold fronts are around. This weekend’s cold front should push some of those snook back to the creek’s rivers and bayous but it’s not a very strong front and won’t last very long so it really won’t have a huge impact on the movements of the snook. Behind that front this upcoming work week and through the upcoming weekend we see a big warming trend and that big warming trend if it holds true and no cold fronts interrupt after this weekend we should see those snooks start to pull out of the creeks rivers and bayous and pretty good numbers and concentrations as they have been and they start to get more into that springtime pattern perhaps as we move into the coming week and weekend. A lot of those Schooley sized snook are active around our mangrove shorelines residential dock lines and canals as you move from the upper Bay and Back Bay waters out closer towards the passes. Snook candy finicky especially when you see those snook up on the surface they can be real leaders shy spooky and slow to feed but if you’re using the right size tackle and the right approach sometimes you can trick them into feeding or just wait for the right time around those solunar major or minor tides.

Redfish action is going well as well through the area mostly on our residential dock lines is kind of the hotspot for the redfish right now. However, as waters continue to warm those red fish will pull out of the canals and off the dock lines and spread out more along our mangrove shorelines grass flats and local area oyster bars. Redfish are really keyed into those crustaceans when the water temperatures are cool but as it warms up and more bait appears this spring, we’ll see more of those redfish start switching over to that white bait bite. As we move into spring it gets a little bit trickier because they get more keyed into those smaller white baits and the fry baits in it can be a little bit more of a tricky approach as those fish are looking for smaller baits.

Black drum are really schooled up right now we’re seeing a lot of black drum and big numbers and big concentrations around some local area bridges. We’re also seeing those schools move through our passes and along our beaches too. Black drum can be a little tricky to spot unless you’re watching your bottom machine and know what you’re looking for. Or find a hotbed around certain area bridges like the Terra Verde bridge the Gandy bridge, dick Meisner bridge and other area bridges that are known to concentrate those black drum. Black drum love large live shrimp or dead shrimp on the bottom and even cut crabs they’re more focused on those crustaceans right on or just above the bottom. However, you can sometimes get them fooled into biting those slow-moving soft plastics that are right on or just above the bottom as well.

Out on the beaches we’re seeing a lot of those silver trout and Whiting right now silver trout and Whiting are active along our beaches this time of year. When the water calms down and clears up and we get those pockets of cleaner clearer water the Pompano tend to be active as well. Fishing around the surf with live shrimp on the bottom you’ve got a good option for the Whiting and silver trout while the water is cooler as it warms up the silver trout will disappear, but the whitening will persist through the summertime.

Nearshore Report

Hogfish action is going really well in nearshore right now we’re seeing those hogfish really active on our five-hour half day 10 hour all day and nearshore private fishing charters we typically catch a majority of our hogfish using live shrimp on three different rig setups either the knocker rig, the naked ball jigs, or those banana jigs that we carry in our shop. Hogfish are mostly hanging around about 30 to 70 foot of water in the best public trip to target them would be a 10 hour all day but a private charter gives you plenty of time and really a plenty of availability to really dial in on those hogfish even more so a private charter would be the best way but a 10 hour would be second best if you don’t have the private charter budget. If you got your own boat focus around 30 to 70 foot of water lower relief smaller relief areas of flat hard bottom or even shell using live shrimp and lighter tackle with minimal weight to target those hogfish. Remember hogfish bite best in the cooler months and we see them most often around anywhere from October through about April into may depending on weather.

Lane snapper action is going really well around the area we’re seeing lane snapper about anywhere from 50 to about 100 feet of water but the bigger the lane snapper the deeper we go typically. Lane snapper really like live shrimp, but they’ll bite virtually anything from the cut squid to the thread fins in everything in between.

Mangrove snapper action is going pretty good near shore mostly in the deepest near shore waters is the best area to find the mangrove snapper on cut thread fins small chunks of thread fins with double snow rigs are great option to target those mangrove snappers. But we also see a lot of the mangroves while targeting the hogfish using live shrimp on a recent 10 hour all day yesterday, we caught over 50 keeper mangrove snappers while targeting hogfish and smashing plentiful lanes.

offshore Report

Offshore the weather has been treacherous lately making it difficult to make it offshore with any consistency but when we do make it offshore the red grouper bite has been super good to us. We’re seeing a lot of those nice red grouper offshore right now up to about 120 foot of water we’re seeing a couple of the scamp grouper some big mangrove snapper, solid Vermillion, porgies, almacos and much more great opportunity to make it offshore if the weather will allow and every opportunity, we get to make it out there the fishing has been pretty good to us. We’re hoping the weather will start laying down we start getting into that time of year where the cold fronts relent a bit then we just have to worry about the wind.

So very focused in the coming month on the red grouper mangroves Vermilion ANS scamp and other bottom fish but you have a chance for those blackfin tuna this time of year maybe a wahoo in those early season kingfish won’t be far away either.