HM Fishing Report 2-24-23


Sheepshead fishing continues to be incredible around the area. The cold fronts are getting a little further apart right now so take advantage of the great sheepshead bite while it’s still happening. As the cold fronts get further apart and less intense for our area generally the sheep’s head start to retreat, get a little less concentrated, a little less prolific and a lot less aggressive. However, that has not started yet so take advantage of it while you can; you don’t want to miss out on the great sheepshead bite we’re seeing around the area right now. Virtually any dock, pier, bridge, or jetty gives you a great opportunity for plenty of sheepshead action. Sheepshead love biting on small pieces of cut shrimp, cut clams, cut oysters, fiddler crabs and other small pieces of bait. Remember they have a very small mouth so small pieces of bait allow that fish to get the bait and the hook in their mouth at the same time. If you use too large of a piece of bait oftentimes, they’re going to bite one end or the other and pull that bait off the hook before you have a chance to hook the fish. Sheepshead can be finicky and can be a little tricky to get chewing. When you see them; lighter tackle, and minimal weight is a good idea. You can even chum them up by scraping barnacles off pilings to get those sheep’s head feeding more actively.


Black drum are super prolific around the area currently as well. We’re seeing a lot of black drum around dock structures, the Back Bay waters, mouths of creeks, rivers, bayous and all the way through the bays especially around some large bridges with deep fast-moving water. Those black drum love crustaceans like large shrimp or crabs especially right on or just above the bottom. You can sometimes even get them using slower-moving soft plastics right on or near the bottom as well. Black drum move in large schools this time of year and you have good success trying to find those schools using your bottom machine especially around channels or bridge approaches.

Snook action is going well around our area right now especially as we have these warming trends. Between the cold front those snook are starting to move out of the Back Bay area a little bit more heavily and kind of moving back into that almost early springtime area and pattern look for snook around those mangrove shorelines, dock lines, grass flats and even sandy shorelines. We have seen some of the snook push back into John’s pass early morning hours around the docks and bridge. As things continue to warm more and more fish will pour out of the Back Bay areas and get more prolific and aggressive around the dark lines and mangrove shorelines and grass flats as they make their way back to the passes and beaches for the late spring summertime pattern.

Red fish action still really going well around local dock lines but we’re seeing those red fish stack up more and more around grass flats mangrove shorelines oyster bars and kind of moving away from their winter time haunts of residential canals and that dark Bay mud. Red fish really love those soft plastics with light jigheads it bounced just above the bottom. We’re also seeing a lot of folks catch the redfish casting live shrimp up under dock lines with a light jighead for weight.

Trout action is going well in the Back Bay. We’re starting to see those trout retreat to a little bit deeper grass flats around 3 to 5 foot, which is a good area to look for those trout especially those little drop offs, cuts, potholes and any area that you can see an opportunity for those fish to sit and wait to ambush passing bait. We’re also starting to see more trout around our dock lights and bridge lights at night as we move towards the full moon at the end of next weekend the night time dock fishing gets a little bit more difficult so take advantage while we have a smaller moon phase.

Out on the beaches right now we’re seeing a lot of good Whiting action. We’re also still seeing a few silver trout but they are definitely thinning out now that the water is starting to warm more and more. However, we are starting to see some more Pompano action especially since we’ve had a longer period of nicer weather that has allowed the water to clear up a little bit especially in sandy or passes like around pass a grille. The rod and reel pier of Anna Maria the Cortez pier big pier 60 in other areas along the beaches you can find clear pockets of water the Pompano are feeding actively. John’s past jetty is a good place to target the Pompano generally folks do better on the South jetty of John’s pass targeting the Pompano and the West side of the bridge.

Nearshore report

Hogfish action is going well right now near shore. We are doing really well on the hogfish on our five and 10 hour trips. Most of the time the 10 hour gives you a better chance at the hogfish. We’re also seeing some good hogfish action on our private charters. Private charters are definitely giving us more opportunities to dial in on those fish. The hogfish seem to be caught the most on 30 pound test with a three to four ot hook a one to two oz egg sinker and a live shrimp. A lot of folks like using four to five red beads in between the hook and that egg sinker; something about that rig seems to really work well to catch plenty of hogfish. The hogfish action should continue to be pretty strong through March and into April but as the water continues to warm the hogfish action dwindles down as they spread out and get less aggressive with the warming trend.

Mangrove snapper has been incredibly good the last week. Our 10 hour all day is absolutely crushing some pretty good numbers of mangrove snapper some pretty large average sizes. The last 10 hour all day caught over 60 keeper mangrove snapper with some big mangroves in the five to six pound range which is extremely impressive for near shore fishing under 80 foot of water. The mangroves are budding live shrimp and cut thread fins with a lot of aggression in some pretty good concentrations.

Lane snapper action has also been pretty good to us near shore especially around that 50 to around 90 foot range. We’re seeing lane snapper on cut squid, live shrimp and cut thread fins. Lane snapper are a great addition to the fish box as we target the hogfish and mangrove snapper.

Still pretty early for the mackerel but we’re starting to see a couple near shore and as water temperatures start to get more into that 70-73 degree range we’ll start to see the macro trickle in and hopefully a big push of those fish soon.

Offshore Report

We got our first long range 39 hour trip in finally and very very excited to get back out there to hopefully get plenty more as we move into this weekend. The red grouper action has been going pretty well, we did pretty darn good on this recent 39 hour but had to work for it to catch good numbers of the red grouper. The bite was a little slow at night for us which made it tricky but keeping the faith and moving around actively allowed us to put together a nice box of fish. The mangrove snapper bite was tough at night the first night but the second night around sundown those mangrove snapper fired off for us and allowed us to put together a decent catch of mangroves. The red grouper action was mostly during the day as we bumped around between different potholes rolls and small ledges. The shark action has been really really thick offshore for our 12 hour extreme trips and 39 hour trips to deal which has been creating a little bit of an issue trying to find the red grouper cooperating well. Red grouper loved the live pin fish, and big chunks of the threadfin and squid strips too. The slow pitch jigs also work great for the red grouper we’ve been doing well on the jigs too.

Mangrove action offshore has been a little softer than it has been nearshore but we’re hoping to get those dialed in as we have more opportunities to fish deeper more often now that the 39 hour trip has resumed the double Snell rig with cut threadfin is always the way to go from mangroves offshore.

Pelagic wise we’ve been a little slow offshore lately but blackfin tuna are still around you still have a chance for a while who and we should see some kingfish action picking up offshore soon as well.