Lots of interesting weather right now and through the weekend with a weak front coming through today and then full moon Saturday with a strong front coming through Monday. Following that a very strong high pressure settles in and fishing will slow second half of next week as moon gets smaller and barometer stays static and high. This means this weekend is your BEST time to get out there between the fronts and take advantage of fish moving around during this transitional period.
Right now mackerel are thick through the area from upper tampa bay to the beaches. If you can find schools of bait near structures or flats the mackerel will be there. Long shank 1ot hooks and around 20lb floro leader free lining live white bait or the same leader with a fast moving 7/8th oz to 1oz gotcha plug is a great way to catch plenty. These guys make great fresh grilled or fried fish or you can smoke them too!
There’s a few kingfish around the skyway and shipping channel too mixed in with the mackerel as well. Great time to troll the mouth of tampa bay around the shipping channel or hit your local fishing pier for free lining big white bait or blue runners for big mackerel or kingfish. However, make sure you know the distinct difference between a big mackerel and juvenile kingfish. Mackerel only have to be 12 inches to the fork and your allowed up to 15 per person. However, king mackerel or kingfish your only allowed up to 3 per person and they have to be 24 inches to the fork. Mackerel have a straighter lateral line while the kingfish have a very obvious ‘drop’ in their lateral line. They can still both have spots, but the kingfish spots are typically very hard to see or fading but a juvenile kingfish can look very similar to the mackerel if you don’t notice the lateral line differences.
Snook are still around the passes and a few on the beaches but this weekend’s weather will start to move them back up into the bay for their winter vacation. This will likely be the last weekend of good numbers of fish around the outer bay area and passes. However, up in the bay and along the shoreline of the intercoastal we are seeing good snook action along the flats, mangroves, and dock lines.
Redfish action is going very well throughout the area. We are seeing some big schools of redfish around tampa bay and even moving out of the bay through the passes into the gulf and along our beaches. Great time of year to get out and target the redfish on the local flats, oyster bars, mangrove shore lines and even in the passes. Good numbers of red fish are being caught at night around local dock lights and bridge lights near the passes. These guys typically feed on or near the bottom even in deeper waters so if your working a lure in deeper water you want to move it slowly and keep it near the bottom.
Sheepshead are starting to show up in the area. We are seeing more and more of these guys around local fishing piers, docks, bridges, jetties and other local structures. Typically around this late October early Nov full moon is when we see a big push of sheepshead to these areas for their winter time action. Looking forward to great sheepshead action even behind the fronts when the waters get murky these fish get very active and feed well.
Mangrove snapper are still active and fairly prolific but as the waters continue to cool off and the fronts really start coming then we will see these guys disappear more and more giving way to big numbers of sheepshead.
Trout are starting to pick up and get more active as the water starts to cool. We will see bigger trout in the cooler months and they tend to get more aggressive too. Look for them around the flats and around the dock lights or bridge lights at night. They love slow moving soft plastics or live shrimp or even greenbacks.
Black drum action is going well around local docks and bridges and other big structure areas. The best baits for big black drum is cut crabs, but you can get them on live shrimp at the bottom too. These guys are bottom feeders through and through so you need your bait right on the bottom. The big ones aren’t the best table fare, but they are great fun to catch and release while the smaller ones are good to go. They must be 14-24 inches and your allowed up to 5 per person per day but you are able to have one of those give over 24 inches per person per day.
Near Shore & Offshore-
The kingfish are here for sure! We are seeing lots of good sized kingfish from the beaches out to offshore waters! These guys are hitting flat lines, trollers, vertical jigs and even sometimes smaller fish or bait being reeled up from the bottom while bottom fishing. They are getting thicker by the day and we should have them in the area a few weeks! Great time to get out there and troll some lures for the kingfish. Easy set up is a #1 or #2 planner with around 12-18ft of 60lb test and a 6-8 spoon. However, surface skirted plugs work well too, but we have a lot of good action on diving plugs like rapala xrap magnum 20s, 30s, or 40s or the Nomad DTX minnows out deeper. Typically we will run a spread of baits with a few planners a few surface skirts and then one or two diving plugs and see what works and then replicate that color and lure more in the spread. Trolling around 6-9 kts is a great speed for lures when targeting kingfish. However, to catch the big girl slow trolling big live baits like big mullet or massive blue runners is how the tournament teams target the the 40-60lb kingfish. They use stinger rigs like you would flat line baits but instead slow troll them just fast enough to keep the lines tight and baits organized. Some even use down riggers to slow troll their big live baits closer to the bottom where bigger kingfish typically reside. However, if your focused on bottom fishing. Don’t forget to have a flat line out to have a shot at a passing kingfish. For the kingfish flat line, a stinger rig is key. There’s a video on how to tide a stinger rig on our fishing tips and tricks page under the rigging section here -> https://www.hubbardsmarina.com/fishing-tips/
The mackerel fishing is more like catching right now. Kingfish might be thick but mackerel are everywhere from the beaches to around 80ft of water. Any structure holding bait is loaded up with plentiful mackerel right now. If you get a livewell full of white bait and hit a big rock pile or artificial reef you can chum up endless mackerel and perhaps even get a kingfish or three!
The hogfish bite is really picking up right now. We are seeing great numbers of hogfish being caught on our private fishing charters, 5 hour half days and 10 hour all days fishing around 30-80ft of water. The ten hour this past Tuesday had 20 keeper hogfish and most half day trips are averaging 5-10 nice ones. The private charters that go target them are doing really well with numbers ranging from 15-25 fish for just a few anglers. Live shrimp and light tackle is key for sure. We love the knocker rig set up or nekid ball jig but using a plain jig head with shrimp is also a viable way to target them. However, they are some of the last fish to bite so you really gotta soak a spot to get to the hogfish action and once they start you only have a short window before they shut down and you gotta find a new spot and start over. They fight hard and eat great and it’s a good time of year to go target them near shore.
Gag grouper action is picking up nicely. We are seeing some big boys out deep from around 70-140ft of water. However, some of these fish are starting to move near shore as the water cools off. Around the mouth of tampa bay and the skyway shipping channel there’s been some good numbers of decent keeper gags caught. We are seeing some in the 40-80ft range too. However, they will move in more and more with each cold front. Big live bait and heavier tackle is key. Around the bay and closer to shore around 60lb mono leader while out deeper 80-100lb is more typical.
Red grouper action is really going well right now from around 70-120ft of water. Great time to go get a decent number of these guys and maybe even a gag grouper or two! The red grouper will eat some live bait but big strips of squid or whole threadfin dead work well too. Typically around 60-80lb test is good to go for the red grouper action nearshore to offshore.
Mangrove snapper and lane snapper are biting well around 60-120ft of water. We are seeing some big mangroves and lanes in fairly shallow right now, and the deeper you go the more prolific they are in number. Mangroves will extend offshore past 120ft but the lanes typically get fewer in number past 120ft.
For more fishing reports, photos, videos and more check out Hubbard’s Marina on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Snap Chat just simply search @HubbardsMarina and don’t forget our family motto, “If You’re too busy to go fishing, You’re just too busy!” Thanks for reading and checking out our report – Capt Dylan Hubbard, Hubbard’s Marina – Call or Txt me anytime at (727)393-1947 | https://HubbardsMarina.com
Upcoming up at Hubbard’s Marina
39 hours resume with great gag grouper action, big mangroves & MORE! This time of year is a perfect time to get out there deep to hunt those big gag grouper and snapper and perhaps get a big pelagic or two as well. Don’t miss out on your chance to go deep and bring home some nice grouper and snapper!
Amberjack close Saturday and triggerfish just closed on the 26th but there’s still plenty of grouper and snapper to catch before the year is over!
The BEST time for gag grouper action is November and December so get out there on a 12 hour extreme or 39 hour for some grouper digging action. Just keep in mind, this time of year the weather can be treacherous with cold fronts barraging the area. However, these fronts are what excite the grouper so it’s a double edged sword.
READY FOR 2021 BOOKINGS? Some people have been asking about next years schedule. Keep in mind our 12,39 and 44 hour trips will not be available for booking in 2021 until around the start of December. Most likely Tuesday Dec 1st around 11am is when that specialty trip schedule for 2021 will be opened for bookings. We are building our 2021 schedule now for our other trips like the 5 hours, 10 hours, dolphin tours, island trips and others and those trips will be all built and open for bookings by around Mid-October!
During the week a great time to visit! If your one of those who can escape during the work week this is the time of year to visit us. We have had super light loads during the week on our 5,10 and 12 hour trips! Plus, the 39 hours are averaging only 50-60% full lately too especially during the week.
Weekends are still much less busy then they were in the summer, so either way it’s a good time of year to get out on the water!
Don’t forget about our brand-new system that allows you to now TEXT OUR OFFICE if you’d rather not call us! Now you can call or text us at (727)393-1947 so for quick questions or updates or anything you can reach out even easier.
Fox 13’s Good Day Tampa Bay show has picked up a fishing segment with Capt Dylan Hubbard Scheduled for every Friday morning starting around 8:15am! These segments will have tons of fishing tips, tricks, updates and more. Please tune into Fox 13 on Friday mornings to watch the show and if you are not local, you can watch it LIVE on their website -> http://www.fox13news.com/live
Enjoy learning more about fishing? Attended a seminar or watched our LIVE Q&A show Sunday nights but want to see the tips and tricks in action on the boat? We have filmed a mangrove snapper, grouper and red snapper mastery course with Salt Strong and they built me my own private page to give my fishing friends steep discounts on these crazy cool courses… PLUS, you also have the opportunity to become an insider member and join the community with great giveaways, raffles, the strike score tool, spot dissections, tons of free fishing videos and tips for inshore, near shore and offshore and MORE this is a super cool family of anglers and the positivity and openness of anglers is wild in this group… in the community people share what they caught, when the caught it, what tide they caught it, what bait or lure they caught it one and often WHERE they caught it too… you HAVE to check this out if you like fishing: https://SaltStrong.com/Hubbard
We are getting prepped for our regular’s club renewals starting around the start of November and then our NEW regular’s club sign ups that will begin around end of Nov early Dec for our 2021 clubs.
Since the regular’s club, which is our loyalty program, expires at the end of each calendar year no matter when you are signed up it would make sense to wait until we are ready for 2021 signs ups to join us if you would like!
If you want some information on the clubs, shoot me an email or text with your email and we can send you out the club info and add you to our 2021 sign up list so when sign ups do start we will reach out to you!
Remember, you can now call or TEXT our main office line – (727)393-1947
Captain Dylan Hubbard
Vice president and Co-Owner
(727)393-1947 ext. 306