Redfish have been thick around Johns pass lately with many caught and released during the day and at night as well! John Sasser, a John’s pass fixture, who normally catches plenty of nice snook struggled a bit this week on the snook. However, one night he ventured down the boardwalk and found a nice little pile of redfish and caught nine of them in just a few hours with a 5-inch soft plastic paddle tail bait and a small weighted jig head at night. During the day we are also seeing the redfish too. Our bait guy and local fishing guru Brian Harris caught a monster redfish just over 40 inches from the dock with a decent sized live pinfish weighted to the bottom. It was a big mean breeder redfish that looked like it had been through a prize fight or two with tons of scars, but it fed healthy and fought like a champ and swam off strong on the release despite its deep and gnarly scaring. Capt Chris Wiggins of Salty Hook Charters sent in a monster redfish picture from one of his charters in Tampa bay. He reported that many big redfish are being found around the bay too especially around the mangrove shorelines adjacent to grass flats and that they were loving the free lined live pinfish for bait on his inshore private fishing charters!
The snook bite is still happening but it’s definitely dwindled off a bit around the area, giving way to the seemingly more prolific and more aggressive redfish bite. However, there are still snook being caught its just lately been a more schoolie sized fish around the 18-30-inch range around the beach, pass and docks during the day and at night. We are seeing them more on the smaller live pinfish or the live shrimp or the DOA shrimp lures.
Mangrove snapper have been great around the south side of Johns Pass especially underneath the bridge area where it’s a bit deeper and rockier. The bait has been stacking up and the mackerel right around them too! A few anglers netted some live green backs and were free lining them out underneath the bridge there on that south side catching some fairly large respectable sized inshore mangrove snapper along with some smaller ones too.
While targeting the mangrove snapper with the green backs around the bridge and jetties some mackerel joined the party too this week with some nice sized fish coming inshore when the bait was around to get their share of those greenbacks too. Gotcha plugs work well for the mackerel in the pass if you don’t have a cast net for the green backs. My favorite size is the seven eighths ounce gotcha plug and you put around 20lb floro as a leader around 3-4ft of it to a line to line knot to braid. This gives you the casting distance needed to cover lots of area. Many of the local piers and passes have these mackerel starting to stack up on their bait schools. Cast that gotcha plug out as far as you can and let it sink a good way before retrieving it at a fairly fast rate every now and again pausing for a few seconds to let it sink a little deeper once again. The trick I use is keeping my rod tip very close or right on the water’s surface to keep the jig from coming out of the water on the retrieve. Many pier anglers will even use a trolling weight around 10-14ft in front of the lure to ensure that lure stays lower in the water column on the retrieve, but this makes it VERY difficult to cast if your fishing closer to the water.
Tarpon are around the passes as well, each morning before sunrise we are finding a big group of tarpon rolling around the lights of the bridge feeding on the white bait and passing crabs occasionally. They won’t be around too much longer so if you want your shot now is the time to get them before they are gone typically early September each year, they will start leaving the area for the most part. Bigger baits like ladyfish, small mullet or big shad are great live baits for the tarpon or the big soft plastic hoggies or big lipped plugs like the rapala xrap 20’s work well for artificials when targeting these tarpon.
Near shore –
The story is pretty similar near shore this week compared to last week, fishing is going well but the fishing should get even better soon as the hogfish bite continues to improve, and the mackerel get more and more prolific with the kingfish returning soon as well. However, the red grouper are biting decent along with plenty of the vermillion, lanes plus a few hogfish around 80-90ft of water. Lane snapper are so great eating and we are seeing lots of them mixed in with the vermillion snapper on live shrimp or small pieces of squid of the threadfin plugs with around 4ot double snelled hooks and 30-40lb test leaders. The red grouper bite over all has been pretty tough the last two to three years and it seems fairly stagnant at a steady pick a few here a few there but never any huge banner numbers on the near shore trips.
The recent 39 hour did pretty well offshore catching some nice mangrove snapper, a few gag grouper, a decent number of scamp grouper, some red grouper and a few amberjack. The weather was much more calm compared to the last long range trip that slayed the amberjack and we are wondering if that rougher weather is what made them turn on so well for us during our 44 hour full moon trip that nearly brought in a two day limit of jacks. However, despite the slower bite we are still plugging away at the jacks and were hopeful that the bite will get better and better as we approach the end of amberjack season which concludes at the end of October. We have gag grouper open till the end of the year, but they bite very well around October, November and December with the premium time being thanks giving to new years eve. However, right now were seeing some nice gag grouper still coming over the rails on our longer-range deep-water trips like the 39 hours or 12-hour extremes or the long range private fishing charters and mixed in with those gags were finding some really nice scamp grouper too! Scamp grouper are one of my most favorite eating fish but they are primarily a deeper water fish which makes them easy to catch right now as we are targeting these amberjack and gag grouper around that 200 ft of water mark just inside of it and outside of it too. Plus, around this area we are finding the occasional blackfin tuna ready to hit a trolling rapala xrap magnum 30 or a flat lined live pinfish or threadfin. We are still catching some nice kings out there too but the blackfin tuna have lately been a little more prolific than the kingfish.
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Upcoming up at Hubbard’s Marina
Capt Dylan Hubbard and his wife Emily just had their son, a fifth generation Hubbard, born this past weekend on Sunday afternoon. He was a respectable keeper red grouper sized baby weighing in at 7 lbs and 11 ounces and was 21 inches overall! Due to this, Capt Dylan is out of the office awhile with limited access to emails and messages. However, if you need something you can always call the office and talk to our wonderful staff or some of the other mangers, or reach out via email to Capt Dylan just keep in mind his response may come a little later than normal due to focusing on the family time in these early days of his newborn child, Jack Wilson Hubbard!
Keep in mind as well, the live show this past weekend was canceled due to his son being born just a few hours before the show was supposed to start. This weekend he plans to have the live show as normal but things could change based on the weather and the state of his son but stay tuned to the facebook event page, your emails from us, or the Hubbard’s Facebook page for updates on the show!
AMBERJACK season is now open for three months and were seeing some big ones! Plus, we still have TONS of other great fish to catch too! Jacks opened August first and they will remain open until end of October, Hopefully! PLUS, we have gag grouper season running until end of December if you want to get out for some big grouper action. The gags bite best in October, November and December but we are seeing some good ones currently too. If you join us in the next three months you have a chance for ANYTHING in the gulf besides the red snapper and triggerfish! Join us for a 12 hour extreme, 39 hour, or long range private charter for the amberjack and gag grouper fishing! Call us at (727)393-1947 or book online at -> https://HubbardsMarina.com
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 had some very active, playful and acrobatic groups of dolphins in our local waters this past week making our dolphin cruise guests very happy during their relaxing tour. The weather finally calming down and the wind shift or the extra fresh water from the rainy conditions last week or some other shift has really got our local dolphin population very active and playful this past week. Great time to get out on the water and enjoy an awesome dolphin show!
We have also been spotting some juvenile and even adult sea turtles cruising the back bay waters this week. The coolest spotting this past week was a large loggerhead sea turtle that popped up right between the boat and the mangrove shore line and cruised through some shallow waters right along the boat before making a beeline for the pass area most likely to head back offshore.
Along with the dolphins and sea turtles this week we have been spotting lots of the manatees around the area cruising the back bay waters. Most of the manatees we are spotting are moving in some decent sized herds around 4-8 manatees making it really easy to spot these unique creatures and cruise along near them watching the show! It is especially cool when we are able to find these animals cruising the shallower waters along the grass flats or shorelines to watching them much easier compared to when we find them in deeper waters. They can hold their breath easily for 6-10 minutes so in deeper waters if they are cruising it’s very difficult to spot them and follow them while in the shallower waters it makes it super simple to spot them and follow them!
We have had some very picture perfect sunsets as of late with some gorgeous views as the cloudy weather provides a killer back drop for our beautiful sunset hour. With the sun light reflecting off the clouds and bouncing around the area making some outstanding colorful views for the lucky visitors and locals who join us for our daily sunset cruise that offers FREE beer and wine every night around 7pm.
Plenty of the Juvenile sea birds or teenagers around the bird nesting islands right now that have left the nests but are not quite adults yet. These birds are funny to spot around the island still very awkwardly learning how to hang on the island, learning to fly and fish. While still pretty dependent on their parents they can be found around the nesting island with ease and are easy to spot as their feathers and size are a giveaway as the big blue dolphin cruise boat tours the island.
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
The water has been clearing up nicely for us out at the islands on the backside of all that rain we are seeing some nice big tides bringing in some nice clear waters around the islands!
Egmont Key island has had some killer shelling and sharks teeth hunting around the island lately especially behind that weather we had this past weekend.
We have been spotting some of the very unique spotted eagle rays on our trips out and back from the island from Fort De Soto County Park! These unique and beautiful rays really can jump quite high out of the water and they really are exciting to be spotting so consistently on our ride to and from Egmont Key island.
We have been spotting lots of the gopher tortoise and box turtles out at Egmont key as of late and it has been making the day at Egmont key island even more enjoyable for our tampa bay ferry guests while enjoying the island paradise!
The islands are waiting for you and your family to come visit for the day, it’s a great time of year to go out and enjoy the beautiful island paradise! The crowds are dissipating as the kids are going back to school making it even more enjoyable at the islands and making the shells even more bountiful. Plus, the lack of rain as of late has really helped clear up any of the mosquitoes that were around the island paradise!
The Egmont key ferry from Fort De Soto offers 10am and 11am ferry rides to the island daily this time of year, plus on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we offer a 2pm ferry ride from Fort De Soto out to Egmont Key Island! You get three hours on the island after around a 20-30 minute ride out and back to the island. 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/
Our Shell key ferry trips are a great way to spend the day and offer more flexible schedules compared to the rigid Egmont key schedule! We offer these trips DAILY from the boat ramp at Fort De Soto County Park and they run at 10am, noon and 2pm and the final return time is 4pm! You have much more flexibility during the shell key trips compared to our Egmont key ferry because you get to choose the time you return to fort de Soto from Shell key! If you’re looking for plenty of time on the island and great shelling opportunities then the shell key ferry trip is your best bet! Check out all the information on this special ferry ride at this link – https://hubbardsmarina.com/shell-key-ferry/
Hey guys, we have our 2020 clubs starting up around the end of November or Early December. If you are interested in signing up or learning more about our loyalty program that will make it more affordable for you to go fishing even more often then make sure to reach out to Capt Dylan at his email below!
If you are an existing regular’s club member make sure to start paying close attention to those special regular’s club email newsletters as the announcements start to come about the renewals for the 2020 clubs!
Captain Dylan Hubbard
Vice president and Co-Owner
(727)393-1947 ext. 306
Preferred partner spotlight
It’s grouper week from St Pete Beach to Clearwater beach, come join the Friendly Fisherman to Celebrate this once a year grouper celebration in style with some of their incredible fresh grouper options in their upstairs water front view dining area, or downstairs at their on the water deck and bar!