Sheepshead are spawning this time of year and due to this, we are finding sheepshead throughout the area biting very well. In the bay around the rock piles and bridges you can find big numbers of sheepshead. Also, in the passes around the bridges, docks and jetties. Plus, in the residential canals plenty of sheepies can be found around the docks and seawalls. These guys don’t mind the muddier cool water that comes behind a cold front, but they will feed in clearer waters too. Yesterday we had a team working to clean the bottom of our boats by scraping barnacles and you could literally hand feed the aggressive sheepshead while cleaning the boats this is how thick they are when you chum them up by scraping off barnacles from the pilings you are fishing around. Fiddler crabs, small pieces of shrimp, cut clams or oysters, and even artificial crab baits are working to catch plenty of sheepshead around the area.
Trout bite continues to be impressive through the area day or night. During the day the grass flat edges, residential docks in wind protected areas, or mangrove shorelines are great areas to target trout with live shrimp, soft plastics, or white bait. At night, we are seeing them in the dock lights and bridge lights where the live bait schools are active, and they will take the same bait that works well during the day for the speckled trout. Silver trout are mainly at night in the passes and during the day on the beaches, jetties or gulf beaches piers.
Snook bit very well through the start of this week with the warmer weather they really got frisky and moved around while feeding very well. You must target them on the right tides, but if your able to get on them it’s a great time to go catch and release some snook. I love to utilize the smart fishing tides website by salt strong to find out when the fishing will be best according to the tides, solunars and other weather variables for the area I will be fishing inshore. This past week the passes produced snook at night along with the residential dock lights. During the day the residential docks protected from the wind worked well if you were fishing close to the shoreline along with plenty of snook along the flats and mangrove shorelines.
Redfish cooperated pretty well again this week, but not quite as active as the snook. We saw redfish caught along the shallower 2-4ft grass flats, oyster bars, and mangrove areas. These guys were loving small pinfish, live shrimp or white bait when using live options. Artificials that worked well were the white paddle tail which seems to be the latest and greatest option in our area along with the mirror lures and zman mullet.
Mackerel are getting more prolific in the area and they are biting best when water is clean around the local piers, passes, jetties and mouth of the bay. These guys love live white bait or fast-moving flashy lures like the gotcha plugs, casting spoons or the yo-zuri crystal minnow. They prefer moving water with lots of live bait around for them to feed aggressively. These guys require a faster moving action on your artificial lure to get them to chew.
Pompano action is good around fort de soto area, skyway approaches and pass a grill pass when the water is cleared up and cleaner. We are seeing these guys mostly on the pompano jigs, but you can catch them using live sand fleas for bait too. Lighter tackle is key as they are very picky eaters.
Tarpon starting to show up in the area, and they will only get more and more prolific as that water temperature gets right. Typically, around may is when the tarpon run really kicks into high gear and they start to really feed more actively in larger groups at the mouth of Tampa bay around the skyway to Egmont key and other local passes in smaller numbers.
Near Shore –
Hogfish bite has continued to impress this past week. However, it was a little more tough to get larger numbers this past week just due to the weather and small window to target them. We definitely had to work a little harder to get them to cooperate for us but were hoping with the beautiful weather we see for this upcoming week the hogfish will bite much better for us.
Lane snapper and some mangrove snapper bit pretty well around the 60-100 foot areas on the live shrimp, cut squid and also the mud minnows. My favorite method for snapper near shore and offshore is the double snell rig with a chunk of threadfin, sardine or cigar minnow on the hooks either rigged knocker rig style or on a fish finder set up. Snapper are quick biting fish so lighter more sensitive tackle is important similar to what you want for hogfish. However, they feed more aggressively so when the bite is going well I like to use conventional set ups so I can get down to the bottom quickly and get back up to the boat quickly to catch more of these fish during the hot bite. Then if the bite slows down, that’s when I will break out the spinning rod, I would use for hogfish to target these snapper with a knocker rig or jig head set up and lighter tackle.
Red grouper bite has been tougher lately near shore, but the deeper you go the better your chances right now for a few keeper red grouper while your fishing in near shore waters inside 20 miles from shore. Live pinfish, squid strips, or whole threadfins are a great option for red grouper. My favorite bait though is a lizard fish or squirrel fish butterflied on 60lb leader and 7ot hook.
Mackerel are really getting thick near shore especially where the water isn’t so murky between fronts. We are seeing big numbers of these guys from just off the beaches all the way throughout the shallower near shore waters. Trolling spoons or plugs around 20-60ft of water will get you plenty of mackerel around any structures that hold bait especially the artificial reefs.
Kingfish are starting to show up with the mackerel but its still very early and there isn’t huge numbers of these guys yet. Plus, most that are being seen are much smaller schoolie sized fish. However, there has been one or two larger kingfish caught already near shore in our area but most of the larger fish are still offshore.
Sheepshead, flounder and redfish are all spawning this time of year so you can occasionally run into huge numbers of these inshore fish offshore. Redfish are easiest to spot since often their large schools will be cruising up on top of the water. While sheepshead and flounder travel in large groups too they hug the bottom around the near shore artificial reefs and large relief areas like bit rock piles or ledges. Sheepshead will be right on or just above the structure while flounder will hang off to the side in the sandy area waiting to ambush prey items moving to and from the structure.
Triggerfish opened up March first and were excited to have a weather window coming up this week starting Tuesday March 10th to go get some of these great eating fish out in deeper waters offshore. They are most common past around 150 foot of water but around 200ft is where you see big numbers of monster triggerfish on those ledges, potholes and hard bottom areas. These guys like hard bottom structures specifically and they love a chunk of squid on a smaller hook.
Mangrove snapper action is good offshore right now and will only get better in the coming weeks. Looking forward to getting back out there this coming week to get a pile of these guys around 120-180 foot of water.
Red grouper are tougher right now due to the deep water closure, but were able to find a few right inside the closure line. When fishing outside of it though any grouper species including scamp and strawberries must be released. Whenever releasing a fish out deep make sure to use a venting tool properly or an easy to use descender device.
Make sure to NEVER release a fish offshore and let it float away. We always ensure to vent or descend fish if they need it to avoid them floating off to die. Typically, when we get started on a spot the first fish, we release will let us know if we need to vent or descend at that fishing spot. If the first fish caught and release swims down quickly and healthy no need to vent or descend fish at that fishing spot. However, if the first fish released floats off and can’t get to bottom, we will net him up and vent or descend it and every subsequent fish after. If you don’t know how to use a venting tool or descender device, YOU SHOULD NOT BE OFFSHORE FISHING!! However, its easy to learn how check out this helpful link and click what state you want more info about and there’s tons of helpful videos and info on how to vent or descend fish to ensure your released fish will survive another day for you to catch in the future when they are larger or their season is open -> http://gulfcouncil.org/fishing-for-our-future/
Kingfish are biting well out there in the deeper waters, they are around most of the year out deep where the water temperatures stay in the right range most of the year. Right now, we have seen a big uptick in their numbers however. Looking forward to our 39-hour March 10th because we should see big numbers of these guys on the flat lines and knocker rig set ups through the nighttime period. During the day some more action will be around, but it will be on flat lines and trollers primarily during the day. Love trolling a rapala xrap magnum 30 or 40 for kingfish offshore.
Tuna are biting well out deep as well with the kingfish. They are right before sunrise or around sunset on flat lines or vertical jigs. Unlike kingfish, we don’t use a wire stinger rig for tuna most of the time were flat lining with fluorocarbon and a tail hooked pinfish for these tuna. The tough part is that if the kings are around they are liable to bite too and cut your flat line tackle so light wire can be a good idea still giving you a shot at tuna but also enabling you to land a kingfish if he bites your flat line.
Plus, Sailfish occasionally grace our area this time of year and they like tuna prefer a flat line without wire, but we have caught a few on a kingfish stinger rig over the years. However, its important to have a pitch rod rigged and ready if you happen to spot one of these guys cruise past your boat while your bottom fishing this spring!
For more fishing reports, photos, videos and more check out Hubbard’s Marina on facebook, Instagram, Youtube or SnapChat 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
Trigger fish opens march first! Starting march first we will be able to harvest triggerfish once again offshore if this weather ever allows us to get out there deep again! They will remain open until May second so we don’t have much time to get deep and catch our fill of these great eating fish.
Red snapper season 2020 should be finalized shortly for the federal for hire season, but we do have news from NOAA stating that our season should be 7-8 days longer than the 2019 season meaning we should see around a 70 day season from June first till around August 9th. However, that season will be announced in final form shortly and we will update you through our videos and email newsletter.
FWC did announce the private recreational red snapper season for PRIVATE anglers meaning those fishing on their own boats or a boat with friends where no money changes hands. This season will start June 11th and will continue through July 25th with a possible fall extension if quota isn’t filled in the 45 day season in the summer time.
**DO NOT WAIT for season to be finalize though, as I have been saying since our scheduled opened these red snapper dates fill FAST and if you aren’t booking now you run the risk of missing the opportunity to catch a trip for these fish!
WIN FREE FISHING TRIPS at our next Bass Pro Shops seminar event coming up Saturday March 21st at 3pm! Hope you can join us for another great fishing conversation and event at the Tampa Bass Pro Shops located on Palm River road in Tampa/Brandon area. More information and an event link will be in next week’s email newsletter!
DON’T FORGET, YOU CAN ALSO WIN FREE FISHING TRIPS if you Join us for one of our special live stream fishing shows Sunday nights at 8:30pm! We will be giving away tons of fishing tips, tricks, techniques and will be answering your questions LIVE during the show! Plus, there’s plenty of FREE FISHING TRIPS to win as well! The shows last for about an hour, and you can find them on the Hubbard’s Marina Facebook page or the Hubbard’s Marina YouTube page. We recommend following the Facebook event link for show info including what’s being discussed, who the guests are, and any changes! Check out the past shows on this page, and find the Facebook event link on this page too -> 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
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
Captain Jack’s dolphin corner
We have many visiting seabirds this time of year, our local birds are dawning their mating plumage and the dolphins are playful! Great time to join us at Hubbard’s Marina for a fun filled and relaxing hour and a half dolphin watching nature cruise and eco tour through our back protected bay waters!
We have spotted some roseatte spoonbills lately around our local oyster bars in the back bays. These guys are super cool to spot and so unique looking when they get nice and pink from all the shrimp they eat.
Due to the wintertime weather up north many of the bald Eagles head south for the winter to stay warm. We have a huge number of bald eagles hanging around area now and the last few days we have had a few relaxing on the sand bars at low tide to sun themselves and rest up for more fishing fun as the water starts to flood back into the bays with the incoming tides.
White pelicans showing back up to our area for their wintertime retreat, great time to go cruising our local back bay waters to spot these beautiful and unique birds while they are in town for a short time!
Also, due to the awesome temps its nice and cool and not so hot on the water. However, for us Floridians it maybe a little chilly so make sure to have a light jacket if you are a local with friends attending our on the water adventures!
Call us today to book your dolphin tour at (727)393-1947 and get more information on this trip at our website here -> https://www.hubbardsmarina.com/dolphin-watching-cruises/
Tampa bay ferry News
Right now with the barrage of the cold fronts makes shelling out of this world out at Egmont key with us aboard our Egmont key ferry boat ride from Fort De Soto’s county park. We have 11am tours leaving Wednesday-Sunday this time of year that offer 2 hours out on the island after a 30 minute ride out and 30 minute ride back. Plus, we often see dolphins, seabirds and sometimes even sea turtles on the ride out and back thus the ride time can fluctuate a bit depending on what we spot during the cruise out to your island oasis! For more info on the Egmont key ferry, visit this page of the Hubbard’s Marina website – https://www.hubbardsmarina.com/egmont-key-ferry-cruise/
While out on the island, you can go shelling around the perimeter or trek through the interior of the island to the western side where the shelling is even better! Plus, you have a great shot at sharks’ teeth and more. Plus, this time of year is awesome for exploring the island’s interior a bit more on your way to the gulf side of the island. There are cooler temps and hardly any bugs after the cooler weather sets in on the island.
The shark’s teeth have been the highlight lately out at the islands with some very large teeth found out at Egmont key and a few at shell key recently. Behind the cold fronts the islands get fresh rounds of great shells and a few of these sharks’ teeth too!
We are seeing lots of active seabirds around the islands with the cooler temps some of our norther friends like bald eagles come down to join us on our beautiful beaches as well!
Plus, the dolphins have been very active as of late adding a special bonus to our ferry guests as they ride from Fort De Soto out to Egmont key or Shell Key islands!
We are officially into the 2020 year and our 2020 regular’s club is solidifying. If you have not renewed your membership has become inactive and your discount is no longer working. Please make sure to call me and get set up again when you have time so that way your 2020 bookings will have your discount attached when you show up for your trips! We can sign you up via phone or in person, and it is always easier ahead of your trip.
If you are not a member, but you’d like to be we are doing our NEW member sign ups. Give me a call or email and we can talk about the clubs and get you signed up ASAP. Once you sign up your discount becomes active and stays active until December 31st, 2020!
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