Mackerel action is going well throughout the area along the bay’s deeper flats, edges, channels, passes and along the beaches. Especially fishing piers along the beach and any large structures in good moving water holding bait will have active mackerel. The bite is always best for these guys in the early part of the day when the water is more calm and clear. However, you can go after them anytime of day. Chumming an area with some cut or whole greenbacks will concentrate and excite the mackerel and light tackle with a long shank 1ot hook free lining live white bait into that excited school or throwing those gotcha plugs through there is just incredible fun. If you catch a handful, they make great smoked fish spread, but many enjoy them fresh on the grill or even fried.
Pompano action picked up considerably around the area it seems. We had a nice push of these amazing eating fish into more northern passes like Johns Pass and clearwater pass this week while before numbers were not as strong it seemed. Doug Bryan, from St. Pete, and some of his buddies fishing Johns Pass this past week with some live shrimp free lined out on an outgoing tide caught a handful of beautiful pompano along with black drum, trout, and even a big bull redfish. Similar stories from Clearwater to Anna Maria seem to be the norm when that bite is on. Those pompano are looking for crustaceans along the sandy bottom like sand fleas, crabs, or shrimp. That is why the pompano jigs work so well to get em chewing. It is all about that little puff of sand that leaded jig makes when its bouncing along the bottom. It gets their attention, and they think it is a sandflea diving for cover and they just cannot help but to react. Therefore when working those jigs, you want to keep it right on and along the bottom not retrieving but just bouncing it along the sandy bottom and edges while only retrieving slack.
Flounder bite has been steady this past week around those sandy areas adjacent to structures or grass flats where they can ambush passing baits. These guys are the kings of opportunistic feeders and will only hit what they can grab from their sandy cover on the bottom. Look for them on the down tide side of structures like docks, bridges, grass flats or oyster bars. Nothing beats an artificial shrimp or live shrimp for flounder other than the secret weapon of creek chubs or mud minnows. Those little almost snook looking smaller fish you can find along the surf of local beaches and islands and inland shorelines that have small vertical black lines. You can cast net these guys or buy them from select bait shops and they are absolute flounder candy!
Snook have moved out of those creeks and rivers, but are still around the mouths of those sounds, bays, and rivers as many are moving back to the passes. We are not seeing the huge numbers of fish but quite a few returning to the local passes around bridge lights and dock lights at night. During the day, highly active snook around those cuts and potholes of the flats at mid to low tide and high tide they roam those mangrove shorelines and oyster bars.
Sheepshead action still going well around the area. Noticing they are slowing down a bit and many reporting a less concentrated bite, but if you stay on em and really set up right and wait it out you can still get some nice sheepshead in good sizes. They are still loving those fiddler crabs and shrimp, but you can get them on the cut clams or oysters too. Light tackle and minimum weight around local structures like bridges, docks, seawalls all good places to get out and capitalize on the last push of those good eating, but hard to fillet sheepshead.
Black drum still around the passes and bridges of the area and a few on the flats. They love the crustaceans like shrimp or crabs right on the bottom or close to it. They will often be around the sheepshead or cruising the passes or flats to the next structure they will explore. Occasionally, you can even find some schools moving along our beaches.
Redfish action has been steady through the area still from the mouth of the upper bay rivers and creeks to the mouth of Tampa bay and local passes. We are seeing some schooling fish along those flats, mangrove shorelines and oyster bars feeding well on white bait, shrimp, and small pinfish. Also, while targeting them on artificial the soft plastic paddle tail is still a crowd favorite.
Trout action still going well through the day and night. We are seeing regularly active trout at night around dock lights and bridge lights. During the day, we are still seeing them around those same docks and bridges too, in the passes, along the flats on potholes, cuts and edges. Deeper flats still the best place to look around 3-6ft of water and look for areas they can stage up and not spend energy waiting for unsuspecting baits. Remember, when you catch one trout there is often many more in that same vicinity.
Tarpon showing up already in the area, we are seeing them along the bridges of Tampa bay mostly, but some have been back in the bays too cruising the local waters looking for crabs, bigger threadfins, smaller mullet, or ladyfish. Still exceedingly early, but we will see them get more and more prolific as May draws near.
Near Shore & Offshore-
The hogfish action has steadied for us again. While not quite as hot as it was November through early March, we are still catching a good number of hogfish on our near shore fishing trips around 30-70ft of water. They seem to have moved off the ledges to more expansive areas more spread out and many that are caught are full of roe or eggs meaning they are most likely spreading out into their spawning small aggregates across that shell and hardbottom patches bottom near the ledges we once found them more concentrated on. These guys love the live shrimp, fiddler crabs, rock shrimp and even sometimes sandfleas. Light tackle and lots of patience is required, but if you can get in a good area and fish down the more aggressive feeders eventually you will have a shot at one of these incredible eating fish. We still get them year around just as the water warms and they get more pressure from more anglers on the water and plenty of spear fisherman jumping in the local waters then they get seriously more leader shy and less likely to eat hook and line.
Mackerel are super thick near shore right now anywhere from the channel markers leaving the passes up to around 80ft of water. They are anywhere from the surface to around mid-water column mostly hanging around the structures like rock piles, wrecks, artificial reefs, and such that are holding and aggregating bait fish. You can find them out there easily by looking for birds and bait schools. Also, you can get out there to one of those larger well known artificial reefs and just anchor up on a up tide side and just go wild with the chum. After a short period, the water will come alive with active mackerel jumping for joy out of the water. Then soon the kingfish will show up intermixed with those mackerel. We are seeing some nice kingfish in the 18-25lb range fairly regularly right now near shore up to 100ft of water with the occasional big boy 25+lbs but still not crazy thick on the kingfish but the mackerel are there. Further offshore, we are seeing bigger kingfish once past 100ft of water there’s better chances for more prolific larger sized king mackerel. The water temp is right for more to show up too. Plus, it looks like we may get another cold front still next weekend that will again lower that water temp and slow it from heating up to fast which will lengthen the stay of our kingfish and mackerel on their spring run by our area.
Lots of great action lately on the snapper fishing too. We are seeing very active lane snapper biting just about anything from squid to shrimp or pieces of threadfin around 30-100ft of water consistently around that hard bottom area, ledges, bait shows and more. These guys love shrimp and lighter tackle but will eat anything. The lanes seem to only be getting larger in average size and more and more prolific in our area over the course of the last 5-7 years and were enjoying all the great eating fish!
Mangrove snapper bite is steady around 80-120ft but the bigger fish are more like 140-180ft right now it seems, but you can put together a nice catch of mangroves in the deeper near shore waters. The double snell threadfin plug is the go too past 90-100ft of water with lighter 30-40lb leader and 4-6ot hooks. Inside that depth less than 90-100ft I prefer around 20-30lb leader and about a 3-4ot hook knocker rig or jig head with live shrimp or greenbacks.
Red grouper bite has been decent lately, but a lot of sorting going on with tons of juvenile and just under legal sized grouper inside 120ft of water. That deep water grouper closure or 20 fathom closure ends at the end of the month and once it does were jetting off deep to fish around 140-200ft of water for those fat deep water red grouper, triggerfish, big mangroves, yellowtail and more! The near shore bite of red grouper though has been impressive compared to the last few years at least with some keeper sized red grouper coming up as shallow as 30-40ft. 10-15 years ago we could nearly limit out in that depth in the warmer months but lately it has been rare to see any number of keeper red grouper that shallow so were hopeful that bite will continue to steadily increase into the summer!
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 do not 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
RED SNAPPER 2021 FINALIZED for now… Our American red snapper season will be the same start date as past 8 years or so for federally permitted for hire vessels who are federally managed (including us). Our start date will be June first and our season will end when the quota is projected to be caught and currently that is August 3rd at 12:01am so August 2nd is the last day to legally land them before midnight…. BOOK NOW! SINCE our schedule opened up Dec 1st 2020 for our 2021 trips and many of those June, july and early august trips are filling fast! The best trips to catch red snapper would be a 12 hour extreme trip, 39 hour trip, or 44 hour trip! Plus, we have private charter options to get you a customized private trip to get out there far to those red snapper too. Remember, this is our busiest season of the year, so you want to reserve TODAY and please mind the cancelation policies. There’s TONS of other great fish to be caught in slower times of year if you want to avoid crowds of our busiest summertime season too!
*We may see an increase in quota at April gulf council meeting that would lengthen our season, but we will not know until around mid-April… for now plan on June 1st until end of day August 2nd! Plus, if increase is done it will be a very minimal lengthening of the season at most 1-2 weeks but could just be a handful of days.
**KEEP IN MIND, the FWC season for private recreational anglers HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH US, that is for private anglers fishing PRIVATE boats! That season is completely different from ours and should be announced soon as well DO NOT LET THAT CONFUSE YOU anything announced from FWC on red snapper DOES NOT APPLY TO US**
12 hour extreme, 39 hour, 44 hour & all Specialty trip dates for 2021 are listed under the ‘specialty trips’ tab of our website. To see all the dates for those trips click this link and BOOK NOW FOR 2021!
Want to learn more about fishing & have a chance to WIN FREE TRIPS! Don’t forget to join Capt Dylan Hubbard each Sunday night at 8:30pm for the LIVE Q&A fishing show on the Hubbard’s Marina Facebook channel! We normally live stream to YouTube too but unfortunately, we are not able too until mid to late January due to some issues. Here’s a link to the past live shows on our site if you want to see past shows and learn more now -> https://www.hubbardsmarina.com/live-q-and-a-fishing-shows/
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
We have started NEW MEMBER sign up and have already signed up quite a few new guests to the clubs. If you are thinking about joining now is the time to call or email me to get the info! The best way to get all the info is to text me your email or reach out via email then I can send it all over and we can talk on the phone after you have had a chance to get an idea of what club you want to join!
This loyalty program is a great way to make fishing more affordable if you are fishing more than 10,15 or 20 times a year!
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