Hubbard's Marina Fishing Report
Inshore Fishing Report
The situation inshore right now can be funky from time to time, but overall, we are still seeing a wide variety of nice fish being caught. Trick is finding clearer cleaner waters and that area seems to concentrate the fish. From the beaches to the back bay waters there is still plenty of clean pockets of water holding actively feeding fish. However, the trick is finding them and following them as day-to-day things can move around and get shaken up quickly.
The snook fishing has been more spotty but we are still seeing some really nice fish coming up at night around the passes at bridge lights, dock lights and around the structures. During the day still plenty of beach snook action around the area and for the most part from Johns Pass south along the beaches the water has been cleaner and clearer more frequently for the morning and dusk beach snook fishing. Back in the back bay waters, we are seeing many snook around the flats, mangrove shorelines, dock lines and around the islands.
Redfish action is going well around the potholes, cuts, and oyster bars of the local back bay waters. We are seeing pretty steady redfish action around the docks adjacent to the passes as well. Live shrimp on the bottom, smaller pinfish or crabs and cut dead bait are all great options for redfish when using bait. Soft plastic paddle tails and soft swim baits are go to options for artificial lures when targeting these slower moving more bottom prone gamefish.
Trout action has been going well lately this past week. Around the passes we are seeing them load up dock lights and bridge lights at night. We are seeing active trout along the beaches during the day. Also, around the deeper flats with plentiful grass trout are looking for white bait and shrimp. However, those soft plastics just above the grass work well too.
Mangrove snapper action is fired up around the local fishing piers, docks, bridges, rock piles and seawalls of the entire Tampa Bay area. These guys love a piece of shrimp or white bait and even a whole one on lighter weight and light tackle leaders under 20lbs. Some larger mangroves have been caught in deeper waters around those structures too. Small pinfish are a great way to target the bigger mangrove snapper.
Mackerel action is spotty but still present. Mostly around the bigger fishing piers in the early part of the day is the best place to find mackerel. However, still decent presence of mackerel around those edges of deeper flats where bait is present, and water is moving.
Black drum action around the bridges is going well throughout the area too. These guys hang right on the bottom looking for chunks of dead bait like shrimp, crabs, or cut threadfin. They have a great fight to them and were seeing them around local larger dock lines too.
Cobia are in the bay around the piers, flats and following the pods of dolphin, schools of mullet, and even the big fevers of rays! They love a white bucktail with a large darker colored soft plastic eel on the hook to catch their eye and imitate their favorite snack, the eels of the area.
Tarpon action slowed a bit this week with the stronger southwest winds, but we did see plenty of them still around the bridge lights of the area. Plus, a few smaller juvenile tarpon still working local dock lines for the white baits and ladyfish.
Sharks are filling our area from the bonnet head sharks to blacktips and virtually everything in between we are seeing them around local fishing piers, jetties, passes, docks, and anywhere they can find a meal or move to and from the more open waters.
Triple tail are around the bay too hanging under floating debris, weed lines and around the markers. Do not forget to check under local buoys too like the pinfish traps along the beaches or flats. Light tackle and a live shrimp are a great method to sight cast these great eating fish.
Nearshore Fishing Report
The only upside right now with the environment we are in is that the issues do not extend into offshore deeper waters where the bite is HOT right now. Plus, we only have a truly short red snapper season so taking full advantage of that is important to the area anglers and visitors excited for their shot at a deep-water trophy!
Before venturing offshore, let’s talk about the near shore bite. We are focusing most of our efforts around 60-100ft of water right now seeing some decent red grouper action. The red grouper are loving the live pinfish, butterflied squirrelfish, octopus and also the squid strips. You don’t need crazy heavy tackle targeting the red grouper near shore around 60lb test and even 40lb if you’re fishing the flat hard bottom bait shows.
Lane snapper have been crazy thick around this area too we are seeing plentiful lane snapper be a continuing trend the past few years with the average size continuing to grow. They love just about any bait you can think of from live shrimp to squid and even chunks of threadfin or white baits. However, if you want a chance at the big ones the larger live shrimp are a great way to target lanes, mangroves, and even some grouper will grab those too!
Mangrove snapper are much spottier near shore, but we are getting a decent bite of mangrove snapper in the near shore areas especially when fishing those potholes for red grouper, or ledges for gags, or rock piles for a variety of species. They love the structures, and they are looking for chunks of threadfin, sardines, or the live shrimp on lighter tackle.
The mackerel and kingfish action is pretty sparse right now near shore, but we see the occasional mahi mahi school for pelagic action inside 100ft of water as shallow as 40ft. The near shore pelagic bite overall right now is pretty slow outside of that rarity.
Offshore the ball game is completely different, and the bite has been outstanding. We are mostly fishing extremely far offshore since these red snapper are open and there has been so much pressure on the fish. Around 110-120ft of water you can start to find the red snapper, but they get beat down pretty fast. Plus, the further you go and the deeper you get the more concentrated, prolific, and large the red snapper get! Fishing around 160-240ft has been a great area for us lately with plentiful big red snapper loving cut dead baits like bonita strips, mackerel, squid strips, whole squid, octopus and virtually anything that is going to give off plenty of oily stink in the water. However, these fish when hungry will eat just about anything you throw at them including jigs, poppers, and even a chicken bone worked this week for one expeditious angler.
Gag grouper fishing has also been stellar for us lately out deep as well. If you want to get big gag grouper in the summer, you must go deep and bring the big bait, big tackle and plenty of patience and heart. These guys have been loving the octopus, bonita chunks and bigger live baits that we get once offshore. Getting live pinfish out on the boats has proven tricky over the past week with spotty red tide challenging our live bait team beyond belief. However, every larger gag grouper caught as of late has been on exceptionally large chunks of dead bait like octopus or whole squid. One angler on the mid-week 39 hour caught a 47lb gag grouper using a whole octopus from the shop. After landing the fish and setting back up sent the same bait back down to catch a 24lb gag grouper right behind his nearly 50lb trophy once in a lifetime fish! Pretty crazy when a 24lb big gag is made to look small by your first fish.
Red grouper have been biting well out deep too, but we haven’t been targeting them as much with the red snapper jumping in the boat and the hot gag grouper bite. Those who do are seeing plentiful large red grouper on those deep-water bait shows and potholes.
Scamp grouper have been mixed in with both species out deep hanging around those solid structures and loving medium sized pinfish when we can get them out there or the vertical jigs along the bottom or even sometimes those chunks of threadfin when targeting mangrove snapper.
Pelagic action out deep has also been spotty. We have seen blackfin tuna, kingfish, wahoo, mahi and even billfish but the bite has been hit and miss even when conditions look favorable with flying fish and right temperatures and such.