Sheepshead are continuing their steady action around our inshore waters right now. That recent cold front had the sheepshead active this past week around local bridges, jetties, docks, and seawalls. Many are still picking up these good eating fish on small pieces of shrimp, fiddler crabs, cut oysters, and even those artificial crabs.
Redfish action has been going well too but was a little slower than past few weeks at least around the passes as more snook seem to be taking over. We have seen a few redfish around the passes at night more hanging on the bridge lights and dock lights towards the bottom. During the day, many are catching them still around those mangrove shorelines, dock lines and even around the beaches of the bay and mouth of the bay. Up in the bay, you can find schooling fish moving along the flats feeding on the shrimp and crabs.
Snook action has picked up considerably around the passes and some even moved onto the beach. Most are still in the bay, but they are making their way back to the passes for their summertime beach vacations. These fish are super active at night feeding heavily around those structures like docks, bridges, or anything they can hide next to and not waste energy while they put their nose into the tide and wait for passing bait to get swept by their hideout by the current. They can get picky and want lighter tackle and a very natural presentation. However, if you go light enough to get a lot of bites then you may lose more fish. Around the structures I do not like using less than 40lb test and if you can get away with it more like 60lb is best. However, sometimes that bigger leader will not let you get the bites you are looking for. Soaking live pinfish towards the base of a dock or bridge on an outbound tide in one of the local passes is a great way to target these guys and, in that situation, you can get away with heavier 60lb test since you are not trying to get the active feeders on the surface who are pickier. There has not been a lot of big ones in the passes yet, but they will soon be there! Back in the bay during the day around the flats we have seen some great snook action too. They are really biting well along the flats, islands, rocky points and virtually everywhere. This is a great time to go catch and release some fun to catch snook.
Trout have been active around the area too and we have been seeing some big boys caught lately as well. They are active during the day around the cuts, potholes, and edges of the flats. High tide around the mangrove shorelines is a good place to target them too. At night, we are seeing them super active around those bridge lights and dock lights close to the passes mixed in with snook and redfish but often the trout will be on the light near the surface while snook hang on the edges and redfish typically below.
Mackerel are still highly active around the area and were seeing plenty caught along the beaches and around the passes and mouth of Tampa bay. You can find them on the edges of the deeper flats that are holding bait, but most often people will target them from fishing piers or jetties in the early part of the day. If you are on a boat around the Egmont shipping channel and Pass a grille’s channel is a great place to look for them or anywhere along the beach if you can find the bait.
Near Shore & Offshore –
Mackerel and Kingfish are dominating the near shore waters right now. Many of our private fishing charters have been solely dedicated to trolling and drifting for these guys if our clients want a lot of action and do not have grouper and snapper as a main target. They are super thick around the 30-70ft range hanging on those structures that hold bait like the near shore artificial reefs, mitigation sites, rock piles, Egmont key channel area, and everywhere in between. Even around hard bottom areas we are finding concentrations of mackerel and the occasional kingfish. This is the time of year you never want to forget your flat line.
Sailfish start showing up this time of year too and you can pick them up miraculously while targeting those kingfish and mackerel occasionally. However, keep in mind, with billfish you always want to keep them in the water whenever possible. We caught one the other day by chance on our party boat half day fishing trip inside 50ft of water less than 15 miles from shore. However, since this boat has such high gunnels, and the deck is so high from the water and we were not expecting this type of catch our main goal is always to dehook and release the fish as healthy as possible, so we had to hoist it on board quickly to dehook the fish instead of cutting the line or having it struggle at the surface while we try and use our turtle dehooking device on a long pole. Then we snapped a picture as we hoisted it back overboard quickly. Also, these guys are super fragile so if you do happen to hook one of these beautiful fish we try and horse it to the boat more quickly than we would a kingfish. If they get too tired from a fight often, they will not have the stamina to swim off healthy and need to be revived.
Hogfish bite is still happening and were still catching decent numbers, but it is no longer a hot bite by any means. They have slowed considerably compared to the cooler months where we were seeing 15-25 keeper or more on our ten hour all days. Nowadays a great hogfish bite is around a dozen keeper hogfish or less. Smaller boats like our private charters really dialing into the hogfish in around 30-70ft are still getting some good numbers but they are starting to get trickier to catch in good concentrations by hook and line. They are spreading out and the big ones are moving off the ledges to form their spawning sites in small groups.
Red grouper bite has been going super well for us out deep offshore. We are seeing a good bite on these guys past around 140ft of water. This past week our Flying HUB 2 had almost 30 keeper red grouper and 14 large keeper scamp on a 12 hour extreme trip which is our unique split charter style trip aboard this unique faster vessel. They are loving those live pinfish, large strips of cut squid and the cut threadfins. Plus, some guys are using those slow pitch jigs more and more with great success on the red grouper too! Near shore in less than 100ft we are seeing some red grouper action, but it is not super prolific or concentrated like it is in the deeper water potholes.
Mangrove snapper are biting near shore around 50ft of water or more, but the big ones and consistent action is out deeper past around 120-140ft of water. Lane snapper are biting very well for us near shore around 40-90ft of water.
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!
*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**
Gulf council meeting happening this upcoming week to discuss the red snapper catch levels and implications of the Great red snapper count or GRSC. This will have a HUGE impact on our gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery and it’s catch levels. There are millions more red snapper out in the gulf, but the additional fish were all found across areas no one would fish and they are super spread out not feeding. The GRSC actually nearly perfectly agreed with current red snapper counts done by the South east fisheries science center or SEFSC so the current federal assessment numbers and the GRSC nearly perfectly align in numbers for the areas we actually prosecute this fishery. This new study is so incredibly ground breaking as it has revolutionized the way we can do fisheries independent data collection for our assessments around the region. However, fisheries independent data is the most expensive to collect and is the most time consuming but it will often yield the most useable and interesting result. The biggest issue is our area is sharing one science center on a limited budget with three other councils while most councils will have their own dedicated science centers or multiple science centers like the pacific council has three of their own science centers. This bottleneck in our science funding and capacity is the biggest thorn in the side of our gulf of Mexico fisheries management area and why we often are lagging behind on management vs science vs what we see on the water every day. As a very active participant in federal management while sitting on three advisory panels of the gulf of Mexico fishery management council and serving as a program principal for the south east’s marine resource education program I feel we need to focus our efforts in more funding for more robust on the water science so the new direction of annual interim analysis between regular more in depth research track assessments on our major reef fish species should be the goal and direction we are heading. Also, would help if there was more at sea enforcement through NOAA and their partnership or Joint enforcement agreement (JEA) with Florida’s FWC.
Great red snapper count has increased the OFL or overfishing limit of the red snapper substantially but likely we will see a huge political firestorm over what is done with the annual catch limits which determines our catch level or quota. By federal law, the council cannot exceed the SSC or Science and statistical committees ACL or annual catch limit recommendation that was only to raise the catch level a few percentage points and that was only voted up by a slight majority. The chairman of the SSC just stepped down due to the hyper politicization surrounding this GRSC. Long story short, likely we will see no change or little change and many lawsuits surrounding this issue.
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