Hubbard's Marina Fishing Report
Inshore Fishing Report
Redfish bite has been steady around the area this past week. Around the passes we are seeing them on the docks, bridges, and structures hanging on the bottom ambushing passing crustaceans and smaller live bait fish too. In the back bays, they are on the residential dock lines and active around oyster bars and mangrove shorelines at higher tides. At lower tides, look for them around those potholes, dock lines, or edges of the flats. At night, dock lights, bridge lights and other light sources concentrate bait and then the redfish are often on the bottom picking off what bait they can.
Snook action has pretty good around the passes lately, but most of the numbers are in the back bay feeding actively around the flats, dock lines, and inlets. Anywhere where a snook can sit while bait is funneled to them is a good place to look for them. They are opportunistic feeders that like to work smart not hard. Right now, lighter tackle and a natural presentation has been important with smaller baits to match the smaller live baits they have been feeding on.
Trout action has been decent around the area. A bit slower than the typical December trout bite, but the water has been warm and overall numbers seem to be spread out or lower. Look for the trout around those deeper edges of the flats, potholes, or cuts. Especially if you have a sandy drop off near a flat that is a good place that will congregate the trout action.
Sheepshead have been prolific around the area structures lately. We will see that even more prevalent this coming week behind that cold front that will concentrate them even more around the structures of virtually anywhere you go. Dock lines, seawalls, bridges, piers, rock piles, anything that will hold growth will have some sheepshead around. However, they can be tricky to get chewing especially in shallow water you have to use lighter tackle, smaller hooks, and minimal weights.
Mackerel have been around, especially early morning around local fishing piers, jetties and passes. You can find them along the beaches occasionally too. Plus, local bridges where bait is concentrated the mackerel will not be far behind.
Whiting and silver trout have been steady along the beaches and around our beach fishing piers. Sometimes even in the passes and sandy areas of Tampa Bay. Pompano jigs along the bottom, live shrimp or slow-moving soft plastics are a great way to target them this time of year.
Pompano have been around some areas lately, but you really must work to find them and have the proper technique to get them to eat. Pompano jigs around those sandy cuts, passes, and sandbars of channels are good areas to look. Sometimes you can find them around the flats, especially when you have some good sandy patches to the flat or sandy areas adjacent. They are hunting the bottom for crustaceans like shrimp or sandfleas.
Flounder action has also been steady around the area. Many of these guys head out of our passes to spawn near shore when the water cools off adjacent to near shore rock piles, reefs, and big structures in 30-60ft of water. However, you can find them around the passes, bridges, and dock lines and even around those sandy patches of the flats as they work to the passes to head near shore.
Nearshore Fishing Report
Gag grouper are closing today unfortunately, but we had a great run with a stellar bite in November and December near shore and even around Tampa Bay. Now, with gags closing our near shore grouper focus shifts to those red grouper which we know are ready to eat around 70-100ft of water. Drifting areas of hard bottom out in that depth on nice weather days like we expect this coming Tuesday through Friday will produce a great opportunity for some fat keeper red grouper, plentiful lane snapper, vermillions, porgies, and potentially some mangroves and hogfish. Anchoring up gives you a better shot at targeting hogfish and mangrove snapper. However, these red grouper are scavengers that spread out over areas of hardbottom looking for a variety of things to eat. Like flats fishing, you don’t want to anchor up on a flat and only fish one small section typically you drift it or put that trolling motor down and cruise the whole flat working all parts of it. This is our approach near shore for red grouper, setting up a drift to work all parts of these larger areas of hardbottom. This gives us the chance to show our baits to more red grouper and increase the chances of hooking up to some nice keeper sized fish. Squid strips cut to mimic octopus tentacles, threadfins with the tail cut, butterflied squirrelfish, live lizard fish, and of course some live pinfish are all great options for these red grouper. Using around 40-60lb leader and about a 6ot hook is a great option to target them as well tackle wise.
Hogfish action still hot near shore. Its been a little slower the past week or so overall, but we will get back into them as they continue to bite well through the spring in our area. We are seeing them most often around 40-70ft of water while targeting those smaller ledges, rock piles and cuts along the hardbottom areas. Using live shrimp with lighter 30lb floro is a good way to get them to eat. You can use even 20lb floro but then it makes it trickier to land anything larger that may bite your live shrimp. Around 3-4ot hooks are good options for targeting those hogfish as they have large mouths.
Mangrove snapper are around near shore but we are seeing most of them in the deeper part of the near shore waters right now closer to that 70-100ft area. They are a bit more hit or miss and we have seen them biting best on live shrimp and cut threadfin. The deeper you go the more prolific and concentrated the mangroves become.
There are still some mackerel around near shore and some kingfish too, but they are pretty spread out. Most of the action we have seen is around the shipping channel and those shipping channel markers. However, sometimes the crab trap lines will hold some bait and thus some mackerel and perhaps a kingfish.
Offshore Fishing Report
Gag grouper ending offshore is sad, but we are super pumped to move deeper and target those fat red grouper around 150-250ft of water with some monster scamp grouper, big vermillions, plentiful mangroves, big porgies, and more stacked up with them. Plus, we have seen some pelagic action too!
It’s a great time to get offshore around Mid to late week this coming week with a stellar weather window between the fronts. Timing your trips around the weather becomes so important this time of year and the fishing is typically extremely hot during those narrow windows of good weather between disturbances.
Scamp grouper action is going well around that 200ft mark, and you can get them deeper and a bit shallower too. Smaller to average sized pinfish, vertical jigs on or near the bottom or sometimes even some smaller squid strips are great ways to target the scamp. Plus, you can often catch them while targeting mangroves on cut threadfin on the double snell rig.
Red groupers love those deep-water potholes. We love to target them with bigger squid strips, butterflied white grunts or squirrel fish, or live pinfish. Sometimes a double threadfin is a great way to get a red grouper to eat as well.
Mangrove snapper fishing is typically pretty darn good around this time of year as gags close, we drop down in leader size considerably and use that 30-40lb even in deeper water with double snelled 5ot hooks and smaller chunks of cut threadfin to really target those smart leader shy bigger mangroves. Often our biggest mangrove snapper of the year come January – March while we have time to really target them in deeper waters offshore.
Blackfin tuna, Mahi and some kingfish were all pelagic actors this past week for us offshore. However, some nice wahoo have been caught around the area as well. Great time to get offshore and do some pelagic hunting this time of year. Especially for blackfin tuna!