Mangrove snapper are thick in the area right now around most any structure like docks, bridges, pilings, jetties, or piers. Great time to go get a bucket of good eating snapper. Inshore in state waters they must be ten inches and your allowed up to five per person. The biggest mangroves inshore are around the rock piles and structures adjacent to the shipping channel from port Manatee out to Egmont key and around the skyway bridge. The best time to target them are slower moving tides where you can use light tackle, light weight, and small hooks to get them feeding well on small pieces of cut white bait or shrimp. Chumming them up makes it even easier to get a feeding frenzy going and this works well in shallow waters when the current is not going too fast. End of the tides or at the very start is always the best time to try and get some snapper frenzied. I like around a number 1 hook for the small ones and around 1-2ot if you are going for the bigger snapper. 20lb floro and the lightest weight possible in a knocker rig set up is my favorite method of approach.
Snook fishing is impressive around the area too. We are still seeing snook from upper Tampa bay all the way out to the beaches. Big concentrations of snook at night around the bridges, passes and cuts. During the day, lots of snook on our beaches and out on the flats. These fish are aggressively feeding and the weather this weekend should have them ready to eat especially in conjunction with the full moon. Once this weather passes around mid-week next week the bite should continue to be hot too. With the big tides coming on the full moon snook will be eating lots of crabs up on the surface as they flush out of the passes at night. Small pass crabs make incredible big snook baits if you want to try some unique live bait in the passes.
Trout action is going well around the bridge lights at night, especially in the passes we are seeing huge congregations of trout in the shallow sandy areas. Johns pass the other night must have had 1,000 trout chasing glass minnows under the north side of the bridge. During the day we are seeing these guys at the edges of the flats, in the cuts, holes and anywhere they can lie in wait to ambush unsuspecting prey being pushed across the flats or off the flats by the currents. Soft plastics work well while targeting trout or some live shrimp or greenbacks.
Redfish action going well around the bridges of the bay and around the oyster bars of the back bay areas too. We are seeing most of the red fish action in mid to upper Tampa bay and back around the bayous of the intercoastal. Still a few around the passes and mouth of the bay at higher tides they seem to spread out and feed more actively, but lower tides they become more concentrated and easier to target. Shallower water seems to be their go to feeding areas along the mangrove shorelines, oyster bars and grass flats between 2-3ft.
Black drum feeding actively right now around our area bridges and big dock structures. From clearwater pass to the south end of Tampa Bay we are seeing quite a few of these big fish coming up on crabs, big shrimp and cut dead bait on the bottom around these big structure areas. These guys like slower moving tides too and smelly bait sitting still on the bottom.
Mackerel are still very prolific around the mouth of Tampa bay, along the beaches and up in the bay around the flats if there’s bait present. Local fishing piers and passes seem to be the best place to target mackerel with the skyway fishing pier, gulf pier, rod and reel pier and big pier 60 reporting lots of mackerel being caught on the flashy quick retrieved lures or the free lined live white bait.
Triple tail and cobia are around the markers and debris in the bay and along the beaches. We are seeing lots of big triple tail caught as of late all over the bay from the beaches to the Courtney Campbell. The cobia are definitely most common around the markers but you can find them following schools of mullet, dolphins or rays too and occasionally a lone cobia will be found patrolling a flat if you are vigil and a bit lucky you could get an opportunity to sight cast a big one while out targeting other species.
Tarpon are really biting well right now and this weekend’s full moon would have been an epic time for that, but this weather is going to make it tricky. If you can get lucky on the weather the big tides are going to be flushing lots of crabs and baits to make these tarpon feed like crazy. The bridges of Tampa bay at night have had lots of hungry tarpon too and that maybe a more weather protected way to target these guys during the bad weather we will see this weekend.
Near Shore –
Red grouper action is going well right now near shore from around 70-100 foot of water we are seeing a pretty steady bite of red grouper when they are willing to cooperate. The potholes and swiss cheese flat hardbottom where the bait is concentrated has produced the best action. The long strips of squid, octopus tentacles, and live pinfish are working best for these red grouper bites with 40-60lb test and 6-7ot hooks.
Gag grouper have opened but the near shore numbers are low due to the warm waters. You can find them near shore in the deepest waters, but they are very tricky during the warm summer months in shallower. Big live baits and 60-80lb test are best, but the big dead baits like whole thread fin or even doubled up threadfin will give you a chance to get one of these gag grouper. Near shore fishing for gags is best well to our north off Hernando to Homosassa where its super rocky and shallow, gags seem to be in those near shore waters earlier if not all year but super light tackle is key because the water is so clear. West of greater Tampa bay, we must wait till the water really cools down in the fall to see big concentrations of gag grouper near shore.
Mangrove snapper fishing is hot from the inshore waters to the offshore waters including near shore. However, near shore they are a bit more spread out and can be tricky since they are so quick biting and smart. Light tackle and a double snell rig with a threadfin plug is king near shore when trying to target these tricky snapper species. However, jig head fishing with some live shrimp or even a piece of live shrimp on ultra-light 20-30lb tackle is a great way to trick more snapper into feeding but that takes some real finesse and plenty of room to make happen.
Lane snapper are biting pretty well along with the vermillion snapper when targeting the mangrove snapper or red grouper in the deeper near shore waters past 60-70ft of water. These guys will take pieces of squid or cut threadfins and even live shrimp too. Great way to fill out your catches while targeting the other species near shore.
Mahi mahi are back in our area in force, super important to keep your eyes peeled for these guys whenever your fishing past 50-60ft of water this time of year. They love to chase the small yellow bucktails, gotcha plugs, live shrimp or small chunks of threadfin if you happen to see a few swim past the boat. We have been able to catch quite a few around the near shore wrecks and big areas of hard bottom this past week again. The trick is to keep them around the boat with exceptionally light chum until you can get one hooked, then make sure it stays in the water next to the boat until you hook a second. Then the first one can be landed and the second stays next to the boat in the water until the third is landed and so on. As long as there’s a freshly caught mahi in the water next to the boat and it doesn’t loose its color you will be able to keep the school around you until you get your fill of mahi mahi.
Kingfish, cobia, and tuna are still around but the tuna have pretty much vacated to offshore waters. Kingfish are disappearing each day too with the chances of getting one or two getting lower near shore. Cobia on the other hand are staying fairly steady near shore and it’s definitely the most common big pelagic you will encounter near shore this time of year.
Red snapper has opened up on the federally permitted for hire charter boats and party boats across the Gulf of Mexico. This season is June first until end of the day August first. The private recreational red snapper season along the west coast of Florida for private recreational anglers on private boats (no consideration given for the trip) is June 11th until July 25th. For both seasons the limits are the same with a 16-inch minimum size limit and only two fish per person. You MUST know how to take care of these fish offshore. So often we find that people will try and high grade their two fish limit and this is really the worst conservation tactic because so often fish caught offshore have a low chance of survival. I would recommend NOT high grading, but so many will not even begin to listen to this advice so in the least everyone MUST use a descending device or a venting tool when fishing beyond 70-90ft of water. If you do not know what these devices are or how to use them then you really should not be offshore fishing until you get familiar. Here’s some great information on how to learn to be a better angler offshore and preserve your undersize or out of season and other regulatory discards: https://gulfcouncil.org/eastern-gulf-barotrauma/
That link above will show you all about how to vent a fish or how to descend a fish. Descending is super easy for anyone and if your not super familiar with the biology of the fish and you are not comfortable poking a sharp object into a fish’s stomach cavity where all his important organs are housed then descending devices are your best bet. If you are a very experienced angler or if you have a good guide or mate who is got the experience to show you firsthand, then venting may be a better option. Here is the page we designed with the help of our friends at salt strong to talk about how to vent fish. We prefer this method on our boats due to high catch rates and more anglers fishing, but we are actively teaching and supervising this method to ensure its utilized properly which is why it works so well for us: https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/how-to-vent-fish/
The biggest question in regards to venting or descending comes in the form of ‘when do you have to do this?’ Well unfortunately there is no clear answer. In the summer when water is hot there is less dissolved oxygen in the water, this means barotrauma occurs in even shallower water (as shallow as 70-80ft). While during the cooler months the water is more oxygenated and then you don’t see barotrauma and thus don’t need to vent or descend until your deeper (around 90-110ft). Also, the longer the fish takes to get the surface plays a roll in the barotrauma effect and every second that fish is on the surface exponentially increase these effects and lowers its survival rate. Our general rule of thumb is on the first fish of the day get it up fast, de-hook it quickly (use a dehooker like this one – https://www.hubbardsmarina.com/product/barracuda-8-5-inch-dehooker/) and then toss it back next to the boat. If it floats and won’t return to the bottom that means every subsequent fish will need to be vented or descending the remainder of your day in that depth of water. If we all work together, we can greatly effect our fishery for the positive. Nothing makes me more angry and frustrated when we see people babying snook and trout inshore then they go offshore to have a 2 mile long train of floating dead undersized or out of season fish behind their boat because they don’t bother to take care of their discarded fish and prevent barotrauma by either venting or descending! Don’t post a photo to social media with dead floating fish behind you in the water or else you are going to get roasted by yours truly and hopefully many more anglers who care enough about our fishery to do their best to preserve it and educate others on how to do the same.
Gag grouper are now open for everyone starting June first until end of the year December 31st. These guys are most easily found offshore when the water is hot like this. In cooler months they start to move near shore and inshore even, but for now we start to find good numbers of larger fish once we are deeper than 120-150ft of water and you will keep catching them up to 300ft or a little more. The deeper you go the bigger they get and the more prolific they seem. Big tackle, big live bait and huge amounts of explosive and aggressive strength are needed to get these aggressive bad boys off the bottom and into your fish box. You have to crank that handle like your life depends on it once you get slammed by a gag. If you are not putting turns on that handle and gaining as much line as quickly and aggressively as humanly possible you will have no shot at landing a trophy sized gag grouper. Let them eat but once you feel that slam you get to put the hammer down and go 0-100 in split seconds to ensure he can’t get you rocked up or broke off in his rocky home. Around 80lb leader is the minimum for gag grouper fishing but if your going deep or using big baits or both you want to use more like 100lb test or even 125lb test. Fluorocarbon leader is suggested and a reel with at least 40-45lbs of drag in a 2:1-3:1 gear ratio is preferred. Low gear and massive drags are going to help you win the battle with each big gag grouper your lucky enough to get biting your baits.
Amberjack are now closed until August first. They were only open for the month of May, but they will re-open in August until end of October.
Red grouper are biting well around 120-180ft of water offshore right now. Look for them in the potholes or on the flat hard bottom bait shows. Similar to the near shore approach works well but I like using more like 60-80lb test offshore.
Scamp grouper are really biting well out deep when we are targeting those red snapper and gag grouper. These guys are most common out in deeper waters closer to 200ft up to 400ft but we are seeing some good numbers around 160-250ft with a nearly 15lb scamp grouper caught on our recent 39 hour fishing trip here at Hubbard’s Marina.
Mangrove snapper action is going very well recent out deep too from 120-180 we are seeing some nice mangrove snapper caught up to around 8lbs but most commonly around 3-5lbs. These guys should bite well for us all summer long. We are even seeing the occasional yellowtail snapper mixed in among these offshore mangrove snapper.
Mahi mahi are thick offshore too, do not forget your pitch rods when you go bottom fishing for these other species. Again, you can utilize that approach outlined in the near shore section to catch yourself plenty of mahi mahi. Kingfish action is still good offshore, definite better chances for kingfish once you get a little deeper. Tuna are still around out there offshore too and once you find them, and we are seeing good numbers concentrated together. Plus, you got a shot at the occasional sailfish too!
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 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
We are in PHASE TWO, that means we have UPDATED policies and procedures and NEW CAPACITIES! Unfortunately, due to the virus, we do have some NEW policies and procedures that we need your help with if you plan to visit us during the month of June. Check out the new policies and procedures listed on our new website page under the ‘info’ tab. Here’s the link: https://hubbardsmarina.com/covid-19-operating-policies-and-procedures/
Red snapper season is HERE starting June first until end of day August 1st! We are excited about our red snapper season and now we are finally able to open back up capacity on our 12 hour extreme, 39 hour and 44 hour trips that are able to target these red snapper with the latest announcement from our Governor about the start of phase two! We now have lots of added spots on these trips, but BOOK NOW as they are already filling quickly!
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://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://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://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