The snook bite is off the charts right now through the area. We are seeing them flooding back into the passes and even a few onto the beaches already with plenty along the docks, flats, mangrove shorelines and bridges from the back bay to the passes. They are extremely aggressive and prolific at this time great time to target these guys for some fun catch and release action. Remember, the next FWC meeting to discuss the catch and release only order is coming up May 12th and 13th. Early morning hours the top water lures on the flats have worked well this week. Throughout the day on the flats and more shallow areas the soft plastics are a great choice. At night around the passes the flairhawk lures are starting to get used more and more.
Pompano action is going well around the area right now on those sandy areas around the bridges, passes and jetties. However, you can find them around the edges of the flats or the sandy channels. Even from local fishing piers is a great opportunity to catch some of these great eating fish. Drifting sandy passes is my favorite way to target them from a boat. Those pompano jigs or banana jigs seem to work best popping just along the bottom only around 4-6 inches off the bottom.
Redfish action has been steady through the area too. Not quite as prolific and aggressive as the snook have been, but we have been seeing good numbers. The passes at night holding those redfish along the bottom on the bridge and dock lights. During the day, around the flats, dock lines, mangrove shorelines and oyster bars are great places to look. Using slower moving soft plastics or artificial shrimp seem to be a crowd favorite for those redfish currently.
Trout bite is going well still too. Seeing along of the trout around the flats, islands, mangroves and even around the passes too. Trout love the soft plastic paddle tails, live shrimp, and even smaller pinfish. Look for areas they can stage, and ambush passing baits and use those lighter action slower rods for good hook sets on these fun to catch fish that have softer jaw lines than most.
Near Shore & Offshore-
We are seeing plenty of kingfish and mackerel around right now! There is some bait moving into the area and were seeing some of these pods around near shore lately, but still not prolific as it has been. However, the blue runners have moved in the area and were seeing nice kingfish action around these bait schools that are holding to local areas of hardbottom structures. Keep an eye on that bottom machine for big bait shows around the artificial reefs, Egmont channel or around virtually most any hardbottom and you can troll or drift that area with great success for kingfish and some big mackerel. We are seeing a lot of these fish trolling planners and spoons and those rapala xraps or nomad DTX minnows.
The red grouper bite has been steady offshore past around 120ft of water we are seeing some fat red grouper on the potholes and flat hard bottom areas. Starting to fish those bait shows more as the water warms up. A few nice scamp grouper have been mixed in and those are always a welcome bonus when targeting the red grouper.
Gag grouper open up in June and we should have a good year on them this year as we have already seen some big boys being caught lately as we hunt deeper for the fat red grouper and prepare for the upcoming red snapper season opening up in June too! Remember, that time of year is incredibly busy on the water so if you want to book a charter or boat to get out there make sure to do it early and often.
Lane snapper have been very active around 70-110ft of water in the deeper parts of the near shore water up to the shallow offshore waters. Mostly seeing these guys on the live shrimp, cut squid and small pieces of the cut thread fin on lighter tackle.
Mangrove snapper have been steady near shore around 60-100ft of water using live shrimp or small chunks of threadfin on lighter tackle like the jig heads or knocker rigs. However, we are seeing some good action on these guys offshore beyond around 120ft of water up to around 220ft where we have been hunting red grouper.
Triggerfish season continues but will likely be closing sometime early may. We should be getting that notice anytime so make sure to go deep and capitalize on them before that occurs. These guys are such good eating fish, but they got to be fifteen inches to the fork which is a very large fish. We see them most frequently in deeper offshore waters in this keeper size beyond 100ft. However, mostly we target them beyond 160 or so foot where we get the bigger versions.
Amberjack season is supposed to open in May if there is quota left to be caught. However, the issue is that in 2020 due to covid that the fisheries intercepts and fisheries dependent monitoring surveys were ceased by state and federal agencies to protect from the spread of Covid. This means there is no real data out there to show what was caught. Unfortunately, this leaves fisheries scientists in a place where they must use complicated data imputation methods to estimate landings. This is simply a very fancy way to say they are essentially guessing. They look at trends and other information and what little they have to guestimate effort and then apply historical landings trends to try and get a picture of what has been caught. All this to say they are finally working on closing out the 2020 landings now and we should know within a week or so if Amberjack season will open May first or not.
Well, this week’s Gulf of Mexico fishery management council meeting is finally concluded and let me say, what a show! Unfortunately, there were illegal motions that violate the Magnuson Stevens Act that governs our fishery left and right. There were so many political agendas at play it was hard to follow. I feel many lost sight of the goal of focusing on preserving optimum yield of our fishery in a sustainable way. However, I digress, the big news is that we will see a very modest bump in our ACL or Annual catch limit of red snapper which will not really have much of any effect on season lengths. But nearly 3x higher OFL or overfishing limit which will create a huge buffer if overfishing occurs for the fourth year since 2017 again this year. However, my concern is that we are going to have a MAJOR payback in the future once they complete this next stock assessment and confirm all this overfishing has been occurring. Plus, when one sector overfishes all three get penalized and share that burden. Going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out because the meeting concluded with the council passing a motion on these red snapper ignoring the data currency issue yet again for about the third year in a row. This means we are still passing quota out in apples, but the landings are being measured in oranges here, bananas there, and pineapples over on this side and then all those are added up and thrown back in the apple cart. Just an incredible mess making certain there is no real clear picture of landings. This data currency issue was postponed until 2023 in the last motion of the red snapper area which means the agency (national marine fisheries service or NMFS) will likely be forced to step in and just force the calibrations. Which is something they are always able to do, but they try to avoid doing so and let the councils handle and manage their fisheries but in this instance the council was unable to reach a legal and viable option. Also, the red grouper issues in Amendment 53 continue and there’s likely upcoming public comment workshops on this issue coming to madeira beach in the next 4-6 weeks.
Currently the council is discussing moving a large number of pounds from commercial sector over the recreational sector and there is going to be a huge outpouring of commercial fisherman speaking against this move. If you want to have your voice heard and look out for your red grouper season. Then this meeting will be important. Even if they move a ton of red grouper over to rec fisherman there is likely still a much shorter season. Due to the new fishing effort survey private rec anglers are being re allocated more fish because we have historically caught more. However, it always shows that rec fisherman catches them much more quickly than historically thought as well. So exponentially more red grouper to catch but with exponentially higher catch rates and efforts that extra fish get eaten quickly and seasons will be constrained as quota will be projected to be met earlier. In the best-case scenario with the most fish moved from commercial to rec we could see red grouper close as early as august or as late as November. Keep in mind this is far away from being finalized and made into regulation and likely we will not see this take effect until 2022. However, it will be important to keep an eye on this and SHOW UP to those public comment meetings that will be held locally soon.
TERMS OF REFERENCE-
INSHORE – from the back bays out to the bridges and including right on the beaches
NEAR SHORE – From the beaches out to 20 miles, or up to 100ft of water
OFFSHORE – from 20 miles or 100ft and beyond
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!
**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**
FISHERIES MEETING UPDATE:
Well that meeting turned out just about how well I thought it would. Super contentious and political and essentially the real issue remains unsolved… We talked about it above in the fishing report, but here’s the meat and potatoes if you missed it. Essentially the calibration issue with private rec data remains unsolved and there’s no way for the agency or anyone to know exactly how many red snapper are landed without data calibration. You cannot go to Europe and use American dollars right? Just like you can’t use federal quota numbers to get allocation then measure your landings in state data collection units without calibrating those back to federal data numbers. The states all worked super hard to create their own state data collection programs which everyone agrees are working best for their own state private rec fisheries. However, you have to be able to measure apples vs apples. There’s a ton of confusion even among council members that this calibration issue isn’t anyone saying MRIP is better than state data. Even NOAA’s regional administrator stated the state surveys are working better and being more precise for in season quota monitoring as each is tailored to their state’s own anglers. However, you have to calibrate those landings units to federal numbers so we can ensure the sustainability and future of our fishery. Red snapper is the greatest success story of fisheries management. It’s been a rocky road but no one would disagree that fish nearly disappeared and now they are everywhere. The goal here is to ensure they remain at healthy levels while we slowly increase our yield streams to optimum yield. Which means they want us to catch as many fish as we can while ensuring there are enough fish left to keep reproducing at a rate to replace the ones that are being taken out of the fishery by fishing mortality or natural mortality (us catching and keeping them or them dying from predators or simply old age). We did get a minor increase in our ABC (acceptable biological catch) and ACL (annual catch limit) so we will see a very small increase in quota but it likely won’t be enough to even give us an extra day.
For red grouper, there’s an amendment being worked on now that is called reef fish amendment 53 which is looking at allocation of red grouper between commercial and recreational fisherman. In this document, they have the challenge of deciding how many fish each sector gets. The reason this came up was the change in recreational data collection. They changed from the coastal household telephone survey (CHTS) to the FES or fishing effort survey which is a mail survey to coastal household addresses based on fishing license information. This doesn’t sound like a big improvement but it really is a huge jump in private rec data collection because they are better able to target households that actually fish. Plus, since its not a random cold call people have more time to focus and respond better and more completely. This change in data collection shows a huge increase in the number of anglers and landings. This means they have to back calibrate those landings historically which increases the amount of quota we should have in our private rec quota.
However, even with more quota this is also showing more effort or numbers of anglers fishing more frequently. So even with a big increase in quota our seasons will likely shrink because were catching more fish more quickly. This is causes a negative situation for everyone as commercial anglers may loose quota and rec anglers will increase quota and get more fish perhaps but our seasons will shrink. Quota doesn’t matter to rec anglers like it does to commercial anglers we just care how many days we can get out on the water and have that opportunity to keep that fish. Currently the council has a preferred alternative in the document that really shifts a ton of fish to rec anglers and it will give us a season of 8-11 months which is one of the longest possible in the document. However, many commercial anglers are making a push for a change in alternatives that would give us no more quota and thus remaining at the current allocation with dramatically higher effort would shrink our season to only 5-8 months. However, the good news is that there’s a big shift in science showing the red grouper fishery is rebounding well and catch levels should increase, but they cannot institute this catch level until this allocation issue is handled. This is what frustrates me most, because again we don’t care about our quota we care about the amount of time we get to perhaps land those fish. Knowing what amount the catch level increase would be might enable us to keep a year long season even without taking as much quota from the commercial anglers.
This situation is a tough one where everyone looses essentially and Madeira beach our area is the red grouper capital of the world. Nearly 75% of the red grouper landed commercially comes through Johns Pass. The council will hold public hearings on this red grouper amendment soon and they are trying to have an in person meeting right here in madeira beach on it. Will be HUGELY important to have a big showing of rec anglers arrive to that meeting because you can bet there will be countless commercial anglers ready to fight for their livelihoods, and understandably so. My effort continues to be some middle ground between the two extremes currently listed in the document. As a member of the reef fish AP (advisory panel) I made a motion to add an alternative to the document that would do just that. However, it didn’t receive support from the council or commercial fisherman so were stuck in these extremes. I wanted to reach a compromise where each side takes a smaller hit. At this last meeting the commercial fleet made a strong push to the extreme that benefits them the most so that leaves me in a tough spot essentially forced into fighting for the current council preferred that would be the extreme that benefits us the most.
Working together is always best and this document is forcing division between commercial and rec anglers where there wasn’t such a divide previously and its very sad to see.
Both of these outcomes of the meeting were overall pretty upsetting to me so the last five days were a lot of headache and mental exercise for little gain. However, I will remain on top of these issues and continue to relay the outcomes!
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
Our regular’s club is still open for people to join, but we do not pro rate memberships so likely we see little sign ups at this point in the year as you would only have around ¾ of the year long membership you would have gotten if you signed up at start of December when our membership opens. You can always wait till December of this year to sign up for our 2022 clubs then you’d get the full bang for your buck!
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