Inshore- The big news this week has been the clearer waters and plentiful bait fish. We have had some huge flood tides bringing lots of nearly crystal clear waters into our passes and mouths of our bays. Plus, along with that clearer water we have been seeing huge numbers of live bait like glass minnows, greenbacks, and even some threadfins closer to the gulf. These large areas of live bait have some very actively feeding predators following them around and hanging out below the schools. We are seeing lots of snook, redfish, whiting, mangrove snapper, and even a few tarpon, pompano and some sheepshead. Plus, the jack crevalle schools occasionally erupt in feeding chaos around these big schools of bait too! The mackerel seem to have pushed out a bit this past week and we haven’t seen the numbers around Johns Pass lately but the skyway area still has plenty and some of our local piers like pier 60, gulf pier, and pass a grill still has mackerel action.
The snook this week have been active but they are a little earlier in the morning than they have been due to the change in the tides. Last few weeks we have had an outgoing tide just before sunrise and the bite was hot up until sunrise. This week the tide has shifted and its nearly slack around sunrise so the bite is best a few hours prior to sunrise lately. The majority of what we have seen caught locally were the more schoolie sized snook in the 20-35 inch range but I did see one monster caught inside Johns pass on a dead ladyfish soaking on the bottom around the docks. The big girl snook are super opportunistic lazier feeders right now since the water is still very warm. They love taking a nice chunk of ladyfish, mullet or even big pinfish cut on the bottom. Brian Harris, our bait manager, caught a few 40+ inch snook this week around the area using this ladyfish cut on the bottom method in a few local passes like pass a grill, blinds pass and Johns pass alike. Keep in mind however, that those larger baits soaking on the bottom bring a little less action but when you get hit its going to be a larger fish. Perhaps even a tarpon or shark occasionally when fishing large baits in this manner. If you’re looking for more action, using live shrimp or greenbacks around the grass flats, passes, or docks where the water is moving is a great idea. There are still snook on the beaches too and this clearer local water thanks to the lack of rain and nice weather makes it really easy to sight fish these guys with larger live shrimp or lures. On the beach you want to use light stealthy tackle like a 4-5ft piece of 15-20lb floro and a 2ot circle hook without any weight to give the most natural presentation possible.
The redfish are really schooled up lately around the mouth of Tampa bay and along the beaches and sometimes can be found cruising through the passes. They are geared up for their spawns near shore and when you come across a big school they are ready to eat as long as you don’t spook them by chasing the school or using your motor too close. The easiest way to spook the school is by shifting gears on your outboard engine, that knock of the lower unit is incredibly loud underwater. I like to gauge the wind, current and conditions and ‘coast’ into an area going slow in forward then just shut off the motor in gear when you want to slow down. Using a trolling motor or a push pole is the best idea when moving around the shallower waters trying to present baits to one of these great fishing opportunities. Live pinfish are still a great option for these hungry redfish, but live shrimp or greenbacks will work as well! Around the passes we are seeing them around the docks and lights of the bridges around the bottom. They seemed to be mixed in below the hungry and active snook too making it a great time to target the fish before sunrise in the passes!
The whiting action around the beaches and even just inside the passes has been great this week. They are easy to catch and pretty good eating fish fun for the whole family. You can use nearly any type of tackle set up to get them on shrimp. The trick with the whiting is a live shrimp or piece of shrimp on a 2ot hook, but you want to make sure you have it weighted to the bottom. Around a ½ ounce lead just past the breakers will get you in the whiting hot zone with around 15lb leader. If you aren’t comfortable tying a line to line knot you can even use a swivel with an egg sinker on top, but if you do the line to line knot put the egg sinker above the leader to keep it away from your bait. These fish will come take the bait and make it fun for the whole family while out on the beach! Plus, while out there there’s a chance for some lady fish or even perhaps a redfish or snook if you are lucky!
Mangrove snapper still swarming around the bridges, jetties, docks and mitigation sites around the mouth of the bay. While the water is warm these aggressive snapper feed well even in the shallower inshore waters. Once the waters cool off the mangrove snapper action definitely dies down quite a bit. Get out and go get some while the getting is good, small pieces of shrimp or cut green back and light tackle make it easy and fun to target these guys at the start or end of the tide around the structures inshore.
The sheepshead are starting to get more and more prolific around our inshore docks, jetties and seawalls and as the water cools down and the cold fronts start the sheepshead action will really get hot! These guys are tons of fun to catch, very hard to fillet but they are so good to eat. Like the mangrove snapper small pieces of shrimp are a great bait for these guys right up against dock pilings or jetties or even bridges around the area with minimal weight just to keep your bait tight to the structure. Cut oysters or clams also make killer sheepshead bait, but many of the pros will use fiddler crabs or even barnacles for sheepshead bait.
Near shore – We had some great near shore action again this week with plenty of mackerel a few kingfish on the surface and even a few nice mahi mahi, plus on the bottom some nice lane snapper, a few mangrove snapper, yellowtail and hogfish! We always have tons of the grey snapper or white grunts and porgies too. The black seabass have been cooperating here and there for us along with a handful of red grouper near shore too. The best action for the lane snapper and other snapper species seems to be around 60-100ft of water. The hogfish action is best around 30-70ft of water on live shrimp. Mackerel seem to be just off the beaches up to around 10-12 miles from shore. Kingfish are just starting to show up but were finding a few here and there from around 25-30ft all the way throughout the near shore waters and offshore they are even more prolific. Mahi mahi are strange to be seeing near shore inside of 80-100 ft of water this late in the year, but the water is still very warm which allowed us a few mahi this past week on our 5 and 10 hour trips and the private charters too. The half day fishing trip yesterday caught one of the largest mahi mahi we have seen caught on a 5 hour half day in a few decades it was traveling with another nice sized mahi but the second one wouldn’t feed for us. Surprisingly this nearly 38 inch mahi hit a threadfin on a stinger rig that we were soaking for kingfish or mackerel. For a mahi to hit wire is super strange, not only was it super late in the year for this fish, but this was awfully shallow around 4oft, and then to top it off it hit a wire leader meant for kingfish! Great example of never knowing what you may catch while deep sea fishing, and also why it pays to have a flat line rod out while bottom fishing this time of year.
Great time of year to go trolling around near shore with some number one or two planners and some 4-6 inch spoons around 12-18ft behind the planners with around 60lb mono between them. Along with the planners I typically add a rapala xrap or two in the spread along with one or two shotgun lures straight out the back further back off the stern with some feathered skirts or bubble jet skirts. When trolling for kingfish and mackerel you want to shoot for around 5-9kts and I find around seven knots is a great speed to start with. Watch your speed and if you aren’t hooking up trying speeding up a little or slowing down a little bit until you get that hit you need and then keep that same speed to catch more! Also, you want to stagger the lines behind the boat to ensure when you make a slow turn you don’t get the trolling lines tangled up. The idea here is to create a ‘spread’ to mimic a bait school following your boat. When the fish hear the motor and see the prop wash they then see the spread of lures and they think it’s a school of bait following the boat and they can’t help but come up and attack the trolling lures!
Offshore – The offshore bite was a little tough this week for grouper, they seem to be biting a little better in the deepest near shore waters compared to the offshore waters. Around 80-120ft seems to be a great area for some red grouper action and a few gags. However, our 12 hour extreme trip did pretty well this past Wednesday landing some 30lb gags and a few smaller gags. Plus, a few red grouper too and plenty of big vermillion snapper and a handful of mangrove snapper. All this action was around 150-190 foot of water and they found some active pelagic top water action with the plentiful bait action offshore. The blackfin tuna cooperated for us on a few offshore private fishing charters this week, but there’s been lots of big kingfish around too but they haven’t been as willing to hit our flat line baits. The 39 hour catches those kingfish trolling often, but we haven’t had one of those in a while due to one of our boats being up in dry dock. Amberjack have been tough as of late, but were still hunting them on all our offshore trips. Our biggest problem as of late are the plentiful and aggressive sharks, after working hard all day preparing for a jack bite with big baits and big vertical jigs when we finally find them ready to eat a big shark will grab one of our first fish and then the bite shuts down and they don’t want to eat any more bait or lures. As the water cools the sharks will become less prolific and aggressive and the amberjack will become more prolific and aggressive were hoping for a good push of jack action before their season closes at the end of October.
Want to watch Capt Dylan Hubbard’s Daily video reports? Check out the Hubbard’s Marina YouTube channel and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE! – Hubbard’s Marina daily fishing & boating report
Upcoming up at Hubbard’s Marina
Join us for one of our special live stream fishing shows Sunday nights at 8:30pm! Capt Dylan Hubbard and sometimes a special guest will be giving away tons of fishing tips, tricks, techniques and he 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/
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
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
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
This week we have seen lots of dolphin action around our back bay waters during our dolphin watching nature cruise and eco tour aboard the big blue boat at Hubbard’s Marina inside Johns Pass! The young juvenile dolphins that were born this year are all grouped together learning how to use their sonar, hunt and play together. Plus, many of these guys are being very acrobatic and playful around their friends and it makes for a great show aboard the dolphin tour at Hubbard’s Marina!
This past week we found what looked to be an ill bald eagle hanging on an oyster bar multiple days in a row. Luckily the audobahn society was close by and we were able to work with them to rescue that eagle during one of our trips. The bird did turn out to be sick and is being nursed back to health at a local bird sanctuary before being returned to the wild!
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.
Even though it’s late in the year, we are still spotting some of the manatees around the area cruising the back bay waters. They are heading out of our area for the cooler months soon so were soaking up our manatee spotting while we can! Right now, 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!
This time of year is our favorite time of year for amazing sunsets unlike any other! Great time to join us for one of our sunset cruises at Hubbard’s Marian because the weather is 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.
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
Shelling is incredible right now out at Egmont Key and Shell Key islands, it’s a great time to catch one of our ferry rides from fort de soto out to the islands to go hunting for the great shells that are washing up from the cold front blowing through our area.
Along with the great shelling, the cold front is also bringing us more moderate temperatures. The cooler temps will make for a great opportunity to explore the island’s interiors without dealing with so much heat and the bugs will be significantly reduced as well the cooler it gets!
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 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