Inshore Fishing Report
Spring is in the air and that means that the water is warming, and fish are moving. This is a great time of year to get out there and go fishing. Bait will get more and more prolific and predators will be easier to find and catch. The catch and release rule again is still in effect for trout, redfish and snook in our area until end of May 2021 but that doesn’t mean they aren’t biting well. If you are looking for something to take home and eat right now the best thing to target would be sheepshead.
Sheepshead are still very thick around the area right now. Their spawn continues and were seeing big numbers of these guys around the area bridges, docks, piers and essentially any structures. The water has gotten super clear lately and its making it super easy to spot the sheepshead loaded down around the dock. For example, on our dock yesterday afternoon you could see big schools of sheepshead circling the pilings up and down the dock looking for crabs, shrimp, oysters or anything else they could pick off easily before they all head near shore to spawn. This is a great time of year to capitalize on the great sheepshead action while it lasts.
Trout bite was fired up this past week, and it was really good the last few days especially. The grass flats during the day are holding trout on the edges and potholes. At night, we see plenty of trout action on the dock lights and bridge lights. Soft plastics are my favorite option for trout like the DOA shrimp or paddletail baits on a small jig head. They will love a live shrimp or white bait as well. As the water continues to warm the trout will still feed but their aggression and congregations will both subside a bit.
Snook around the entire area, slowly spreading out cautiously.
Redfish action was pretty good this past week. Many redfish are still holding on structure like docks, rock piles and oyster bars around 2-4ft of water. However, a few are being caught out on the flats. These guys love the soft plastic paddletails or gold spoons if you prefer a lure, but if you like the live bait then small pinfish or white bait work well for redfish. The water is getting clearer and this means stealthier tackle is necessary. Around 20lb floro leader is a great idea with 10-15lb mainline.
Triple tail getting thicker in the bay, but more and more will show up. We see lots of them along the near shore waters right now as well, but they are definitely moving up into the bay a bit right now in bigger sizes. These are great eating unique looking fish that love to take free lined live shrimp pitched out under the structures the triple tail like to hide underneath like markers, buoys, or any floating debris.
Mackerel bite will only get better, plenty around right now, but we should see even more showing up in the coming weeks. The skyway fishing pier, Fort de Soto fishing pier, Ana Maria piers, and clearwater beach pier are all great areas to find tons of mackerel hanging out. Especially in the morning hours before boat traffic kicks up. Water is clearing up which makes it a little tricky and easier at the same time. Your shiny mackerel lures are easier to spot from further distances, but you still need to get them to eat. Super light wire is best, but if the bite is tricky, I like using a longer spoon or gotcha plug with around 20lb floro. If you’re not using wire you may lose some tackle, but you will get more bites and action.
Near Shore Fishing Report
We are seeing some really good near shore action right now as the water has finally calmed down and is starting to really clear up and warm up all at the same time. We see great weather in the future forecasts for awhile and this means even more near shore action should be picking up steam over the next week.
Hogfish are cooperating well still, but they definitely were a little more picky this past week. Around 40-70ft of water is still the best area to target them but you can still find them as deep as 90ft of water fairly consistently. Live shrimp is king, but fiddler crabs, sand fleas, and even rock shrimp work well for Hogs. Lighter tackle becomes even more important as the water continues to clear up. We are using as light as 25lb floro to target hogfish right now. I feel part of the reason they were a little trickier this past week has to do with the water clarity improving so much so quickly. The good part about the cold fronts stirring up the water is that it would allow for lower water clarity and you could get away with using a little more beefy tackle with success. If you like to go after these guys now is the time to do it because once we get closer and closer to summertime the bite continues to grow pickier and tougher.
The flip side is the snapper species like lanes, mangroves, and vermillion really pick up in action near shore as the water warms and clears. They are smart like the hogfish so lighter tackle helps but their aggression is much higher so with the right bait and conditions they will bite even 30-40lb leaders. For snapper fishing near shore this time of year I would still utilize around a 3-4ot hook and 30lb floro with around a 1oz lead on a spinning rod with a double snelled chunk of threadfin, live shrimp or mud minnow on the bottom hook. If the bite is going super well I may even use a high speed conventional with around a 3oz lead, 30-40lb leader on a fish finder rig to allow for more efficiency and speed when catching lots of snapper.
We saw a big uptick in read grouper action this past week on our near shore trips around 60-100 foot of water. Definitely more of the 20-26 inch red grouper were feeding well on strips of squid, threadfins or live pinfish this past week. Nothing monstrous right now in the shallower near shore waters but its great to see the red grouper bite pick up like they should be this time of year. As the water warms and the summer approaches typically, we see the red grouper bite continually improving. Would be great to see a big haul this coming few weeks.
Mackerel are getting to be common in the near shore watersespecially along the beaches out to around 35ft of water on the near shore artificial reefs. South county, madeira beach reef and the skyway channel are holding lots of mackerel right now near shore. There are a few kingfish around, but they are all still fairly small near shore. It will be another few weeks before we see the full mackerel and kingfish run if this weather continues to hold out for us.
Offshore Fishing Report
The weather finally calmed down and it’s a welcomed sight. We were excited this past week to be able to make it offshore on our 39 hour long range overnight fishing trip to go get some triggerfish, grouper, snapper and more. The bite on our mid-week trip was picky though, especially at night. However, the daytime action was steady, and it really picked up for us just at the bitter end of the day with some good snapper action. Normally during these trips, we see the best mangrove snapper action over the night time period but they actually bit best during the late afternoon on the last day of fishing.
We still have the deep water grouper closure in effect until end of March so that kept us fishing a little shallower than we would have like to be with triggerfish open. However, it paid off allowing us to keep the red grouper, scamp grouper and strawberry grouper we saw on this recent 39 hour fishing trip. There wasn’t much size to the grouper in the 120 foot areas but they were willing to eat for us on the live pinfish, threadfins and the squid strips. I like using pinfish for scamp especially the smaller pins. For red grouper, they will take just about anything. While the strawberry grouper I typically catch them while fishing for snapper with cut threadfins on a double snell rig.
Triggerfish are open until May 2nd and we see the biggest ones out deeper closer to around 150ft of water or more. However, we were able to pick a few keepers in shallower during this recent trip. They are a welcomed sight during their short season this year. Remember, your only allowed one per person with a min size of 15 inches to the fork.
The pelagic action was a little slow on this most recent trip, but its on the verge of kicking off in a big way. This time of year, we typically see nice numbers of tuna, kingfish and even the occasional sailfish or wahoo. Spring and fall are the best times for pelagic action in our offshore waters for sure and were on the doorstep of that spring run. Even some cobia will swim by offshore while your bottom fishing so have those flat lines out and pitch rods ready!
For more fishing reports, photos, videos and more check out Hubbard’s Marina on facebook, Instagram, Youtube or SnapChat 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
Trigger fish opened up march first and will stay open until May 2nd! You don’t have much time to get out there on a 12hour extreme, 39 hour or 44 hour trip to go deep for some great eating triggerfish!
Red snapper season 2020 has been FINALIZED for the federal for hire recreational anglers! We will have red snapper season open for our boats at Hubbard’s marina starting June first until midnight August 1st! This is a 62 day season exactly like what we had last year for the 2019 red snapper season. Were looking forward to plenty of great 12 hour extreme, 39 hour or 44 hour trips for red snapper.
FWC did announce the private recreational red snapper season for PRIVATE anglers meaning those fishing on their own boats or a boat with friends where no money changes hands. This season will start June 11th and will continue through July 25th with a possible fall extension if quota isn’t filled in the 45 day season in the summer time.
WIN FREE FISHING TRIPS at our next Bass Pro Shops seminar event coming up Saturday March 21st at 3pm! Hope you can join us for another great fishing conversation and event at the Tampa Bass Pro Shops located on Palm River road in Tampa/Brandon area. Check out this link for all the info and click GOING or INTERESTED to help us spread the word -> https://www.facebook.com/events/190451215550400/
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