Good Catch: Lots of redfish action in Tampa Bay

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Every Friday morning, Captain Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard's Marina joins Good Day to fill viewers in on his fishing forecast as we head into the weekend. Here is his fishing report for August 23, 2019.

There have been greater redfish action around Tampa Bay during the day and in the passes at night this past week. We had some active redfish schools feeding along the mangrove shore lines on live shrimp or live pinfish during the day. During the day, they are found in large schools around the flats and mangrove shore lines -- and the lighter tackle is key.

I would recommend using 15 to 20-pound floro leader and small 3ot circle hook with lighter spinning reel and 15-pound braided line with a 4 to 5-foot leader tied on with a line-to-line knot. Remember, these schools are very spooky meaning you have to let the fish come to you because if you chase them or motor into them they will spread out and not want to feed for you. 

At night, we are seeing them inside the pass. While anglers are snook fishing with live shrimp or pinfish, we are catching them even with heavier tackle around the docks and bridges. Redfish seem to bite better around the bottom and in the pass. On the grass flats, they are feeding best on the outgoing tide this past week. 

The snook are feeding well, yet again, this past week in the passes at night. The live pigfish in the 4 to 6-inch range, large live shrimp or small to medium pass crabs are the best live bait options for the snook. If you are using artificial lures, the flairhawk style jigs, DOA shrimp or the hard crankbaits like a rapala xrap or bomber lipped plugs work best.

The DOA shrimp are best at the very end or start of the tides, once the water really starts going those lighter lures are tough to work realistically through the current. While the hard crank baits and the flairhawks are much easier to work anytime during the tides. The snook bite has been very good this past week feeding on both the incoming and outgoing, but we noticed the outgoing tide when the bait is flushing they seem to hit the live bait best. 

There are plenty of mangrove snapper around the bridges, piers and jetties right now feeding on the whitebait and pieces of shrimp. Lighter tackle is key as they are very smart leader shy fish and the lightest weights possible at the very start of the outgoing tide is what we find works best to target these mangrove snapper. 

Tarpon are still around the passes and beaches right now. We are finding large schools of them at night around the bridge lights and during the day they cruise the beaches in smaller groups finding some live bait to feed on. When they are rolling, they are not actively feeding, but we have been finding them early in the morning in big schools working the flushing bait on the outgoing tides right in the light lines of the bridges. 

Near shore
This week we have been finding the mackerel on the beaches feeding on the trollers on the way out to fish near shore. Seems like around the morning time the mackerel are right on the beaches. Then, as the day progresses, they move further from shore and we run into them around 6-to 10 miles off the beaches.

We find they are liking the number one or two planners with a squid spoon or king spoon around 12 to 18 foot behind the planner with around 40 to 60-pound test between the planner and spoon. These mackerel have been a little sparse, but they will be becoming more and more prolific as the cooler time of year approaches. 

The hogfish are still just starting to roll, we are catching quite a decent number but most have been under sized. However, we have been lucky on some of our private fishing charters. Keep in mind, hogfish are social species, typically when you find one there will be 5 to 7 more around so even if you catch a small one you typically can get some others that may even be larger.

Light tackle, live shrimp and lots of patience is key when hogfish hunting. They are the very last fish to feed on a spot as the more aggressive fish will be the ones feeding to start. Once things slow down that's when you start hog hunting instead of moving the next spot. 

Lane snapper have been biting well for us too around that deeper near shore water around 70-to 100 feet of water, and they love some small cubes of cut squid wing or live shrimp on 30 to 40-pound leader and 4ot hooks. These aren't the biggest snapper, but we have been seeing some large lane snapper in the 2 to 3-pound range. They have to be 10 inches long to keep, but we have been finding some up to 18 inches fairly consistently on our private fishing charters.

Mangrove snapper bite has been okay near shore. They are mixed in with the lane snapper and hogfish but feed best in the deepest near shore waters around the lane snapper. I like to use the threadfin plugs with the double snell rig for the best chances at catching some consistent near shore mangrove snapper. Natural presentation, holding bottom and quick hook sets are all super important when it comes to mangrove snapper fishing.

Red grouper bite near shore has been a little better for us lately especially right around 90 to 110 feet of water on the squid strips, live pinfish, or squirrelfish for bait with 60-pound test and a 6ot hook. However, it's still not as good as it should be this time of year. Only a handful are being caught on those longer near shore private charters or the 10 hour all day boats. 

Amberjack are still open until end of October, and this past weekend was the best amberjack fishing we have seen in a year or more. The weather was very rough and rainy but that didn't stop our advanced anglers aboard our 44-hour full moon trip from getting out there and tackling plenty of these hard fighting fun to catch amberjack.

They have been a little weird lately hanging off the sides of the wrecks or springs and hiding out in the deeper waters. However, we have them dialed in now and we're looking forward to the coming months left in this short amberjack season. Big tackle, big live baits or vertical jigs and big patience and strength are all required to land one of these 40 to 90-pound monster jacks.

We are still catching some nice gag grouper out there in the deeper offshore waters around 200 feet of water, but they are definitely a little slower than they were around the end of June and early July but the scamp grouper have filled in the gaps for us. We are seeing lots of nice scamp grouper coming in too around these same depths with the live pinfish. 

Red grouper are spotty but were finding some fat red grouper out there around 160 to 200 feet of water. Lately, we have even been catching a few nice ones at night too which is a little out of the norm, but hey, we are happy to see some nice grouper either way. They love longer strips of cut squid wings, live pinfish, and squirrelfish too.

The blackfin tuna are still fairly prolific offshore and the kingfish are mixed in too making it important to have a flat line or pitch rod ready while offshore bottom fishing. The trolling has been slow this week but that is mostly due to the super bumpy conditions we had this past weekend on the 44-hour full moon trip. In the 8 to 10 foot seas, the trolling conditions were not optimal but when its calmer the trolling is typically much more active.

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