Hubbard's Marina Fishing Report

Inshore Fishing Report

Red tide still lingers in much of our area unfortunately. However, this past week we have seen it lighten up a little towards the second half of the week. We do have a big cold front it seems heading our way next week that will hopefully help us to continue to break up the blooms more and more! However, it is really a day-to-day type of situation in many areas especially near the coastline. The bay remains pretty well clear along with much of our intercoastal waterways. Mainly sticking around on the beaches and mouth of Tampa Bay especially towards the southern side. Here’s the latest forecast and levels from the USF and FWC collaborative efforts -> http://ocgweb.marine.usf.edu/tbm/hab/

Redfish bite continues to be impressive around our local area throughout a wide range of structures and areas. We are seeing them along the flats, oyster bars, islands and even along dock lines and around the bridges near passes as well. They are still following schools of mullet on the flats. Plus, they continue to bite best in the early part of the day and through the night. During the day you can find them, but need to be looking for schools, bait or that mullet action along the flats. Dock lines are producing well during the day where the redfish can find some cooler temperature water to chill out in while waiting for passing bait or changing tides. Soft plastic paddle tails remain king for artificial bait users, but in the low light conditions the top waters work extremely well too. If you prefer live bait, the live shrimp or greenbacks or even small pinfish are a great redfish bait option.

Trout action seems to have picked up a bit with a little cooling trend going in our local waters. We should see that trend continue as water temps continue to trend downward with our ‘winter’ weather pattern settling in. The cold fronts every week or so should get closer together and that cooler water getting stirred up with increased winds and waves tend to get the water a bit murkier behind the fronts and get the trout excited and feeding well. For now, we are seeing them still in that more fall pattern of that 4-6ft area and a slow steady retrieved soft plastic is a great way to target the trout over the flats. Also, live shrimp or greenbacks on lighter tackle and slow action rods are a great way to target trout locally.

Snook are still biting well around the area too, but they are definitely starting to move more and more to the back bay waters as they set up for their more wintertime patterns. Typically, as the waters cool many snook will move back into the bays to stage at river mouths, creeks, and bayous to try and moderate their body temps as they do not like cooler temperatures. However, it hasn’t gotten extremely cool yet and many of the snook are still being caught along our beaches which is surprising for nearly November, but we are having a more moderate slow start to ‘winter’ in Florida this year.

Sheepshead action is really still simmering, we haven’t seen our first big front yet, so we are seeing some of these guys but not the massive surge of fish we expect behind our first few big fronts. They are starting to get more and more common though around local docks, piers, bridges, and jetties and will only get more prolific and aggressive as that water cools. Especially behind the fronts when waters get murky, and the barometer drops quickly the sheepshead gets extra excited.

Mangrove snapper action is going well throughout our area but will slow and really get tough with the cooling waters. However, like many other species they are just waiting for that time and are still in that late summer early fall push of aggression. We are seeing good numbers of mangroves around all those same structures taking smaller chunks of cut shrimp or greenbacks or threadfins.

Black drum action is still around, and we are seeing some big boys on the live shrimp, cut crabs, and sometimes even soft plastics around those edges of the flats and oyster bars but also around the bridges. Big structures like large dock complexes or bridges are the best places to look for black drums back in the bay.

Triple tail action is really hot around the area right now around markers, buoys, and floating debris. They love those live shrimp and shrimp imitation soft plastics. However, they will take fiddler crabs and even green backs too.

Mackerel are still thick around the bay following schools of baitfish around the docks, flats, and bridges. Look for faster moving water and those areas of white bait. Especially if you see the birds working, you know there will be mackerel or jack crevalle working that school of bait to the surface to attract the birds.

Nearshore Fishing Report

Hogfish continue to slowly pick up near shore. We are seeing them more and more on our near shore adventures from around 30-70ft of water. We are seeing them mostly on live shrimp, but you can catch them with fiddler crabs and even squid sometimes. However, they love that lighter 30lb leader, 3-4ot hook and minimal weight on a spinning rod and reel with around 15-20lb mainline.

Mangrove snapper action is going okay near shore too, but we are still seeing most of the mangrove action out deeper. They are biting near shore around that 60-100ft area but are sometimes found shallower too. They love the small chunks of cut threadfin on the double snell rig or the live shrimp on the hogfish setup.

Scamp grouper action is surprisingly good right now even near shore, but you have to get out there to 70ft or more. We are seeing them on those smaller pinfish, cut threadfins and sometimes even strips of squid. They love those ledges you can find hogfish and gag grouper on too!

Gag grouper action near shore is pretty spotty to the west of our area, but you can find them up north a way north of Hernando in that shallow near shore water. We had a great trip recently in around 60ft of water to the north. They love those bigger cut dead baits and live baits too. However, the red tide is still making having live bait an issue, so we are mostly targeting and catching them on big pieces of dead cut bait.

Mackerel and kingfish action is going decently near shore once out there past the bad areas of water about 40-60ft of water or more. If you find bait out there in this area you will find hungry mackerel and kingfish too!

Offshore Fishing Report

Red snapper season is in full swing for us at Hubbard’s Marina and aboard any federally permitted for hire charter boat or party boat in the Gulf of Mexico. We are seeing them most commonly out there past 120ft of water and are doing most of our red snapper fishing deeper than 160ft of water. They are really getting big and more common even upwards of 200ft of water or more.

Look for those big ‘Christmas tree’ shaped shows just on or above the bottom around ledges, rock piles, wrecks, and peaks offshore. We are catching some nice ones using cut threadfins but the Bonita strips remain to be the best bait we can use to target the bigger red snapper as you can cut yourself a big strip! We are even seeing success on the red snapper using bigger strips of squid for bait for them too. 

Gag grouper action has been super-hot offshore lately, and especially so this past weekend ahead of that frontal boundary. We didn’t expect it but just two days following the front we went back out on another 39 hour with a super light load and they got into consistent 15-30lb gag grouper out there around 160-200ft of water. Big dead baits like the near shore report reflected has helped us to land some trips around 20-30 keeper gag grouper! 

Scamp grouper have been impressive offshore too; we are seeing some nice ones mixed in out deep while targeting the red snapper and gag grouper. We are hoping to see this continue and they seem to bite a variety of baits from cut threadfins to cut squid strips to even smaller pinfish. Around that red snapper tackle seems to produce more scamp grouper action like 60lb leader and 6-8ot hooks. 

Blackfin tuna are out there right now in force it seems, and we are picking them up quite often on trips where we have people targeting them on the troll or flat line. Plus, we are seeing kingfish action too while trolling occasionally. You still have a shot at wahoo, but they become a little less common as waters continue to cool off.

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