Hubbard's Marina Fishing Report

Inshore Fishing Report

Well as many have discussed around the area unfortunately behind Elsa we had enough stirring of the local waters to cause an extremely dense red tide bloom around Tampa Bay and southern Pinellas county with high concentrations all throughout Tampa Bay, while its still spotty north of Tampa bay the fear is we are a long way from the end of this current red tide event. Unfortunately, with steady west winds prior to and through Elsa that blew enough of the organism in from offshore to really provide the embers needed to cause the explosive flames we are seeing now. All you need for this naturally occurring organism to thrive is the right conditions like food present and salinity levels right. Well with all the spills following Elsa and the Piney point disaster we were ripe with food. Elsa providing a big old wooden spoon to stir up all the food already in the bay plus took off all the fertilizers, road dirt and other run off into the bay for added spice to throw it all against the southern and southeastern shores of Pinellas with that strong southwest breeze we saw through a majority of the storm’s passing. Unfortunately, some areas have extreme densities of red tide and its still exceedingly early in the summer and we have an exceptionally long hot few months ahead. My concern over the estuary and the future of our fishery is really beyond words. We really need to take a hard look at the issues:

  1. Lack of unity among outdoor enthusiasts from fisherman to beach goers and all those in between. This would need to include those who advertise the area like chambers and CVBs, plus the businesses they represent along our beautiful coast lines from tackles boxes to hotels to restaurants and all the places in between. Stop the derision and division and let’s work together on the ultimate goal, improving our water quality in the short term, long term and also working to end the rampant and purposely ignored polluting.
  2. Rampant pollution – The Piney point area has spilled into local waters three times in my lifetime, but city municipalities like St. Pete has made a habit of dumping sewage and wastewater into the bay even more frequently. We need cities, counties, and state governments and especially the DEP to be help more fiscally responsible for these atrocities. Piney point’s most recent spill was enormous but what about the nearly 170K gallons of sewage and grey water dumped by Hillsborough County and Port of Tampa following Elsa? These continued issues are ignored as many continue to the biggest most notable issue but all these small spills that do not even make the big news cycles add up overtime to continue to provide the ‘food’ needed to fuel these big blooms.
  3. Responsible growth plans much be the forefront of our long-term goal. Resiliency must be the drive for this upcoming legislative session to address these water quality issues. We cannot continue to build high rises and have exponentially more toilets, showers and sinks being added to a sewage and waste water system that has not been maintained or upgraded to handle the increased pressures. We must build our cities and areas over a well-planned infrastructure system to handle these demands not ignore the downfalls and continual spills because the financial fines paid for by taxpayer dollars don’t match up to the costs of actually addressing the underlying issues.
  4. We all must achieve understanding and patience. What is going on is ridiculous and continues to worsen and become more frequent. Do not misinterpret I am extremely upset, but I also realize these issues have been created over time and they will take just as much time to address and ultimately end. No one person, group or politician will be able to stand up and take credit as solving the issues above. However, we can all work together and move towards positive change. Red tide is a naturally occurring organism that has been around for thousands of years. We cannot stop the west winds that blow it into our shorelines and the hurricanes that come and stir it up. However, we can stop feeding the fire by working to stem and ultimately cure the rampant polluters.
  5. Think towards the future! Look at our issues with cancer. We haven’t found the cure to cancer, but we have found ways to lower our chances of getting certain types by eating right, working out and leading an active healthy lifestyle. We need to find out the ways our areas and coastal communities can lower the chances of catching nature’s cancer in the form of red tide.

 

Unfortunately, today’s era of social media and social division causes issues like these to become polarizing while they should unify and be bipartisan. Groups out there that work hard for anglers and water quality still get these social stigma’s that cause people to become turned off or negative. For example, some big ones like CCA they have some negative reputations among certain groups like commercial anglers, while groups like Captains for clean water have some negative stigma they don’t do enough or don’t do it the way some think they should, and the examples continue. I can name 10 groups like these bigger more notable ones, and I bet with ease I could find 10 people for each of those ten groups that can tell me what they are doing wrong or why they wouldn’t support their efforts. This is one part of the larger issue. No one group can get this major issue solved or even make a dent in the issue, but in my opinion if groups like CCA, Sierra Club, Florida guides association, Tampa Bay Waterkeepers, Captains for clean water, Charter fishing association, West Coast Charter captains association, and others could all band together and get their leadership all in the same room with any egos or need for having their association’s name on the success put aside. I would guarantee some extremely effective strategies and goals could be accomplished. That is my first challenge to these advocacy groups, lets all get together and sit down and see if this is a realistic way forward to a positive change or in the least all meet quarterly or some small amount to keep each other on the same overarching unified goal and abreast of what the others are doing successfully or need help to accomplish. FWC currently is spending millions of tax payer funds on red tide research with MOTE marine lab which is great news. However, I feel we should be working towards some time of Red tide symposium or panel that brings in industry and advocacy leaders across the regions to work towards regional and state wide water quality issues. This is something we could accomplish to pool resources and efforts and make this fight a more unified and bipartisan approach.

 

Secondly, a challenge to anglers and the general public of getting up to speed on the real issues. Red tide is not the issue, it’s a naturally occurring organism that’s been around for centuries and will not go away anytime soon. However, the issue is our recent lack of responsible growth plans and attention to resiliency plans that have continually caused these sewage spills, wastewater spills, and environmental disasters like what occurred recently at Piney point. These issues are like pouring lighter fluid into a powder keg. We take an already volatile potentially explosive thing like red tide and provide it more and more potential fuel with ‘feeding’ blooms with spills, fertilizer, and disregard for our infrastructures to support the expansive growth of our area. With more people come more sinks, showers and toilets and more waste. We need to first ensure our systems can handle this exponential growth before building exponentially more high rises. Florida is funded on tourism and our growth is great for small business. Do not get me wrong I love the added visitors and people in the area for my family’s tourism and fishing operations. However, I do not want to be shortsighted and focus on economic success today that will eventually cause the inability to operate in the future decades from now. The real issue we should focus on in my opinion is focusing on the call for our elected officials to take tougher stances on spills, leaks, and intentional dumps. While also coming up with a comprehensive responsible growth plan with water quality as a main focus. Finally, push for funding diverted to research and mitigation of these water quality issues. We can put a man on the moon and send robots to mars but we cannot focus on our waterways and beaches that fuel our economies and way of life?

 

Third, a challenge to businesses along our coast lines. We are all successful due to tourism and locals who flock to the coast lines for our beautiful beaches, waterways, and coastal environments right? How can we continue to sit by and in the short term try and play down these issues and look past them to continue to operate and thrive? If you want to have your children and their children to have the same opportunities as you do now, shouldn’t we all ban together and support groups like the ones listed in the first paragraph who are all working together on a clear, concise, and unified path towards positive change? We must demand clean water ways and preservation of our coastal communities.

 

Lastly, I challenge leaders of industry, politics, and tourism throughout the region to start to consider changing the dialogue and mind set. Let’s stop standing by while we continue to see this situation worsen with each passing year. The fact this one facility in Piney point has dumped this toxic waste three times in 2007,2011 and again in 2021 while the DEP stood by and let this happen is truly sickening. The issues in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and manatee counties and specific cities like St Pete continuing to cause leaks, spills and catastrophic events is unacceptable. The reasons we continue to see many of these issues, in my opinion, is the mentality of many including myself at times. We all can get worked up and upset when it becomes a critical point causing national news to draw attention and millions of pounds of fish kills filling our water ways. However, when it’s a milder event or when it goes away it falls to the back burner for many if not all. We must get the pressure up and keep it up to affect positive change for our futures and the future of our waterways and water economy. Let’s face it, Florida is surrounded and encompassed by water and our entire state is driven by the beautiful waters under, around and throughout the state. Let’s start changing the culture and demand for water quality to be at the forefront of our elected official’s future legislation while demanding our State’s big businesses like sugar, phosphate, agriculture and developers put our environmental success as a pillar of their business models.

Do you have the motivation needed to stand up for the future of Florida? Let’s join the movement!

Nearshore Fishing Report

Luckily, the red tide issues we are seeing pervasively inshore are not affecting our near shore and offshore fishery in the short term. However, what concerns me for the future of our fisheries in the central west coast region is that these large scale fish kills happening more and more frequently with greater concentrations are really going to take a big effect on future recruitment classes of these near shore and offshore species like gag grouper, mangrove snapper, lane snapper, red grouper, and many other species that start their juvenile life cycle and development inshore in the estuaries that are being annihilated by this red tide event at this time. Hoping we don’t see a downward trend near shore and offshore moving forward due to these large-scale events plaguing adjacent fisheries.

Near shore currently we are seeing a great bite of lane snapper continually active around 60-100ft of water with some decent mangrove snapper action mixed in there too. Occasional red grouper are still biting steadily in the near shore waters but they get larger and more concentrated beyond the deepest near shore waters that extend out to around 100ft of water. Hogfish action is virtually nonexistent at this time, but we are seeing them randomly from time to time in the near shore areas. Pelagic wise there is not much to speak of near shore but there are still sparsely populated mackerel along the beaches out to around 60ft of water.

Offshore is the focus still as we are in the depths of red snapper season taking advantage of this short season and great bite. However, weather has been a little tricky with hurricanes and such making it tough to get out deep. When we can, the fishing has been outstanding overall. Red snapper concentrations haven’t been incredible but were finding a slow and steady bite of these highly sought-after fish in a very large average size anywhere from around 160-200ft of water. We do see them as shallow as around 100-120ft of water but if you want to find more steady action you must start closer to around 140ft of water and the deeper you go the better the action seems to be. The best bait lately seems to be the larger more oily and smelly cut dead baits like the whole squid, Bonita strips or the octopus. We are still seeing plenty on the big thread fins and sardines too.

Gag grouper action remains strong despite our inability to get live bait out there on most recent trips since the backside of Elsa moved through helping the red tide food to stir up and the organisms thrived! Most of the big gags we have seen lately have been on the white grunts we catch on our near shore 5 hour half days that guys are going back off on a 39 hour to drop down or the big live baits guys and gals are using to fool those big gag grouper. Minimally you need around 80lb test when fishing out deeper for gag grouper offshore but if I was dropping a big bait down on a 100lb leader I would want to have a reel with at least 40-45lbs of Drag. Also, keep in mind your hook size needs to carry with your size of bait. IF you plan on using a 3lb bait you need some 125lb tests and then make sure we have conventional rods to get out there deep and hunt some bigger gags and red snapper.

Pelagic action has been fired up offshore. We are seeing right now some big mahi mahi in the bull dolphin range. Plus, occasionally some wahoo and tuna join the fun. However, the big news has been the prolific kingfish around the offshore waters as of late. We were seeing them all the offshore waters especially on the recent 39 hours even dropping dead baits guys were hooking some solid kingfish.

 

DON’T BE A FOOL, bring a venting tool & Descending device ->
Plus, keep in mind the important of dead discards and discard mortality when engaged in near shore or offshore fishing. How many do you know right now that are all for catching and releasing snook, redfish and trout but will be the first in line to kill a mangrove snapper, gag grouper or red snapper and the attitude completely changes when discussing these offshore species? Plus, the same person inshore that will hold their breath and wet their hands before handling a breeder snook will go offshore and then cull through 20 red snapper before keeper their two red snapper they deem large enough to fill their two fish bag limits while the other 18 they released will often end up suffering fatal damage if not properly descended or vented? Please help us to spread the word on the importance of descending or venting your released fish. Descending devices are most easy to use and quick to pick up on their use and are most effective for most anglers. However, an expert and precise angler with proper training and tons of experience can use a venting tool properly with similar outcomes. However, a venting tool requires you to pierce the fish while most descending devices are much less invasive. While using a venting tool it is imperative you pierce them in the exact right spot, and you do not go but a quarter inch or less in the fish. Most venting tools require you to ‘choke up’ on the tool to prevent over penetration into major organs.

When fishing deep water, especially in the hot summer months, please make sure to treat all fish intended to be released like that breeder snook inshore and minimize the time it takes you to get him from the bottom to the boat using heavier proper tackle not an ultra-light spinning reel. Then once on board, minimize the time out of the water. Then use a proper dehooking tool and then for the love of God, use a descending device or venting tool PROPERLY to ensure that fish has a chance to live another day. Three things will help ensure the survivability of those fish released offshore. Making sure they are brought up quickly and do not expend all their energy in the fight. Make sure they are unhooked smoothly, easily, and as quickly as possible. Finally, make sure they spend the least amount of time at the surface at negative pressures where barotrauma exponentially increases its effect with each passing second. Also, keep in mind when the water is warm there is less dissolved oxygen content and the chances of barotrauma increase even more while its effects can be even more deadly. Here’s all the information and more on barotrauma and how to mitigate that fatal damage to your future offshore catch -> https://gulfcouncil.org/eastern-gulf-barotrauma/
**recommend the salt strong articles at the bottom of the page under ‘webpages’ I helped them develop personally**

 

STATE SURVEY to improve recreational data and access ->
It is imperative that you have your gulf reef fish survey endorsement on your fishing license if you are a private recreational angler or diver fishing from a private boat anywhere in Florida who intends to harvest, attempt to harvest or possess one or more of the following reef fish species: mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, hogfish, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, Gag grouper, Red grouper, Scamp grouper, Mangrove snapper, Lane snapper, Kingfish, Tuna, or Mahi mahi. Here is all the information and more on that program and how you can sign up -> https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/state-reef-fish-survey/

 

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

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