MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. - 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 April 30, 2021.
We are seeing yet another week of great snook action around our local passes, especially at night, the snook are most actively feeding around most any bridge light or dock light near or inside the local passes.
During the day, there are still plenty of snook action along our local flats, mangrove shorelines and islands of the bay. Look for them where water is moving, and they can find a little reprieve from passing currents to ambush bait pushed past them. You must remember to retrieve any artificial with the currents -- not against the current -- to provide and enticing natural presentation.
For live bait, you want to get it up the current and let it slowly drift into that strike zone. Many are still doing well around the local residential dock lines, especially those adjacent to the flats, mangroves or passes where water is moving, and bait is present.
Pompano action has picked up this past week around the area, but unfortunately, my 19-month-old son was more interest in releasing our sand fleas than using them for bait this past Wednesday on our beach adventures.
Sand fleas are their number one prey item along the sandy shorelines of our beaches, passes and channels. We are seeing them caught from local fishing piers, beaches, and jetties. Plus in the bay, some are catching them around the local bridges. They have been around but this past week it seems they picked up intensity some around the area.
Black drum are still present along our local dock lines, bridges, and some cruising the flats. They love those shrimp on the bottom or crabs and look for easy meals. Typically cracking an older dead smelly crab and sending it to the bottom adjacent to the bridge structures is the number one way to get one of these large and good fighting fish. The smaller ones are decent table fare, but most will catch and release larger ones, but I have heard they are eaten too.
Mackerel action is steady around our local fishing piers along the beaches, Skyway Fishing Pier, and local bridges where water is moving, and bait is thick. Plus, along our beaches, you can find active mackerel too if schools of bait get pushed up along that outer sand bar. The markers of Tampa Bay are popular places to catch bait in the early morning for local fishing guides and after they depart.
When the sun comes up they make great areas to target mackerel with fast moving flashy lures like the Gotcha plugs or casting spoons with a little weight 8-10 feet out front to keep em down as you quickly retrieve them. This is why gotcha plugs are a little easier since you can cast them more easily. Fishing high off the water from a bridge or pier the other method is a great way to do it too if you can underhand cast with 10-15 feet of clearance.
Sheepshead are still around, but the bite has slowed considerably. They are giving way to super active and aggressive mangrove snapper around the local docks, bridges, jetties, rocks and virtually any structure in or around the bay. Plus, even along the flats, you can find pockets of hungry mangrove snapper. These are fun to catch and, on light tackle, put up a decent fight and are great fun for younger anglers to master the feel of the bite and setting the hook.
Even local seawalls near the passes or bridges or flats will hold these aggressive fish and a little piece of shrimp and a small hook with light line and hardly any weight is a great way to target them. You can even get lucky and get some quality snapper around the rock piles of Tampa Bay or around the Gandy or Skyway bridges. When cruising the bases of the bridge to locate the bigger structures and on the right tides, you will see more active schools of hungry snapper.
Redfish have been steady through the area -- some of them at night -- but a majority are during the day around our local dock lines near the passes or around the flats, oyster bars, mangrove islands or shorelines. They are loving the live shrimp or green backs for live bait. As the water warms, cut dead baits works better and better like threadfins or pinfish on the bottom. Soft plastics are a common artificial choice that offer great success in enticing the redfish to chew.
Trout action is thick around the dock lights and bridge lights near the passes at night. During the day, we are still seeing plenty of larger fish active around those ambush points. Salt Strong has tons of amazing video series and courses but one of my favorites that I have seen was about the 90/10 rule that couldn’t be more significant. Essentially 90% of the fish are in 10% of the area and you have to find those ambush zones where they will stack up to get them to eat.
You could become a Salt Strong member to get all their tips and tricks and experience gifted to you. However, I can’t give away all their secrets, but based on my personal experience, looking for those points, pockets and passes and any cuts or drop offs around the flats or edges to find is where you’ll find trout that are stacked and waiting for baits to pass too closely. Remember, once you find one you will find plenty more.
Don’t forget we are coming up on a particularly important FWC meeting yet again this coming May 12 and 13. This upcoming meeting will be discussing Goliath grouper regulations and perhaps an extremely limited season on them, shark issues and interactions with fishermen, and finally the issue on snook, redfish, and trout and perhaps re-opening these species.
Remember, anyone can attend these meetings and you even have a chance to speak during the meeting if you so choose by following the prompts given during the meeting.
However, if you do not feel comfortable talking on the issues or you won’t have time to attend the meeting, you can always write in with public comment letters ahead of the meeting too. On the agenda page, you will find a link to the public comment form that allows you to write in your comments to the commission prior to the meeting.
Remember, you have to do so about 4-6 days prior typically, but no date has been set yet for this deadline. You can view the agenda, reports, and make advanced written public comment on these items by visiting FWC’s website.
Near shore and offshore
Things have really shifted near shore and offshore for us this past week. We are now transitioning ourselves from that near shore close to shore shallow water fishing on our intermediate trips to fishing more like the deepest near shore waters.
For example, our ten-hour all day has focused a lot around 40-60 feet through the past few months on the hogfish bite. However, now the hogfish bite has really slowed considerably, and we get that shallow water ‘slime’ going this time of year. This year, it seems earlier and more thick virtually everywhere along our coast until you’re 14-16 miles or more from the pass.
This is again something we see each year, but it does seem thicker and earlier this year which is hopefully nothing more than a coincidence. That definitely seems to affect our shallow water bite as the fish must struggle to get through it. Plus, your baits disappear into it and your line catches it and your weights get covered in this seaweed slimy green stuff that really makes your tackle obvious to the fish too. All this to say, we are pushing deeper and doing very well just outside that area all the way to around 80-100 feet of water.
Our ten-hour all day today fished up to just over 100 feet of water and caught a good number of red grouper. It is not really crazy compared to historic levels but compared to recent history, some fat red grouper inside 100 feet of water on a party boat trip is something to celebrate.
Plus, they had a good amount of mangrove snapper despite many still not targeting them. Those mangroves were loving the cut threadfins around 80-100 feet of water on the double snell rigs with 30-40lb leader and around a 4-5ot hook. The red grouper love those live pinfish with around 40-60lb leader and about a 6ot hook in that shallower water they can be pickier for sure. Plus, with gags not open, you can lighten up and have a shot at the occasional big mangrove while targeting the red grouper with live pinfish.
We are still seeing some hogfish even as deep at 100 feet of water, but they have slowed throughout the area. We are still using our hogfish approaches and live shrimp to target the lanes, vermillions and nice mangrove snapper. However, the white bait, cut threadfins and live pinfish work very well too and stay on the hooks a little easier when the bite is going well. However, if the bite slows those live shrimp are always a great idea to fire down before moving areas.
Today’s 5-hour half-day fishes closer to shore than our ten-hour due to time constraints and around 40-50 feet right now due to that slime. The grey snapper or white grunt bite was slower than we would have liked but that enabled us to catch quite a few hogfish. Only five ended up being keepers but that is a great number of hogfish on that shorter, close to shore trip with primarily first time anglers on board.
Still, this is much slower than a few weeks ago but a little bit of a welcomed sight. We attribute this to that slime too, much like that red tide (not an issue currently). The fish aren’t completely dumb. They will move away from areas that are affected by things out of the ordinary and we feel many fish are moving around trying to stay away from that thick area along the coast of this season springtime green slimy grass/algae.
The HUB private charters fishing around 60-90 feet of water have been crushing decent numbers of red grouper with some big lanes, mangroves, and porgies mixed in. Plus, they have more flexibility to flat line and troll around with private fishing charter guests on board who typically are more flexible and willing to target what the captain suggests. We are also seeing a huge uptick in the number of sharks from our beaches through the near shore waters. This trend will continue to increase in intensity as the summertime heats up local waters and attracts more and more hungry sharks to the area.
From the inshore flats to the beaches and beyond we see a large population increase locally in our shark populations this time of year and our private charter boat has really seen a ton of the bull sharks, a few tiger sharks, blacktips, spinners, dusky sharks and more!
The Flying HUB 2 private fishing charters and 12-hour extreme trips along with our 39-hour fishing trips are fishing further offshore beyond 100 feet of water and mostly even beyond 150 feet of water. We are seeing plentiful fat red grouper out there in the deep water with some nice big scamp mixed in.
Plus, big mangrove snapper have been more and more common place with some steady kingfish action and occasionally some thick tuna action that is extremely spotty. This is a great time of year to take advantage of those lighter load trips and starting may first you can even join us on these trips to target a monster greater amberjack.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
INSHORE – from the back bays out to the bridges and including right on the beaches
NEAR SHORE – from the beaches out to 20 miles, or up to 100ft of water
OFFSHORE – from 20 miles or 100ft and beyond
For more fishing reports, photos, videos and more check out Hubbard’s Marina on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat. Just simply search "HubbardsMarina" and do not forget our family motto, "If you’re too busy to go fishing, you’re just too busy!"