Good Catch: Redfish bite is picking up

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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 September 6, 2019.


Redfish have been thick around John's 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.

Captain Chris Wiggins of Salty Hook Charters reported that many big redfish are being found around the bay too especially around the mangrove shorelines adjacent to grass flats, and 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 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. It's just lately been a more school-sized fish around the 18 to 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 John's Pass, especially underneath the bridge area where it's a bit deeper and rockier. The bait have been stacking up and the mackerel are 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 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 20-pound floro as a leader around 3 to 4 feet 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, while 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 to 14 feet 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 X-Rap 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 vermilion, lanes plus a few hogfish around 80 to 90 feet of water. Lane snapper are eating, and we are seeing lots of them mixed in with the vermilion snapper on live shrimp or small pieces of squid of the threadfin plugs with around 4ot double-snelled hooks and 30 to 40-pound test leaders. The red grouper bite overall has been 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 amberjacks. The weather was calmer 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 amberjacks and were hopeful that the bite will get 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 Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. However, right now, we're 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. Mixed in with those gags, we're finding some really nice scamp grouper too. Scamp grouper are one of my 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-foot 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 X-Rap 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.