Fishing Report: April 9, 2021

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 9, 2021.

Inshore

Sheepshead are continuing their steady action around our inshore waters right now.

That recent cold front had the sheepshead active this past week around local bridges, jetties, docks, and seawalls. Many are still picking up these good eating fish on small pieces of shrimp, fiddler crabs, cut oysters, and even those artificial crabs. 

Redfish action has been going well too but was a little slower than past few weeks, at least around the passes as more snook seem to be taking over. We have seen a few redfish around the passes at night hanging on the bridge lights and dock lights towards the bottom. During the day, many are catching them still around those mangrove shorelines, dock lines and even around the beaches of the bay and mouth of the bay. Up in the bay, you can find schooling fish moving along the flats feeding on the shrimp and crabs. 

Snook action has picked up considerably around the passes and some even moved onto the beach. Most are still in the bay, but they are making their way back to the passes for their summertime beach vacations. These fish are super active at night, feeding heavily around those structures like docks, bridges, or anything they can hide next to and not waste energy while they put their nose into the tide and wait for passing bait to get swept by their hideout by the current.

They can get picky and want lighter tackle and a very natural presentation. However, if you go light enough to get a lot of bites, then you may lose more fish. Around the structures, I do not like using less than 40lb test. Instead, 60lb is best. However, sometimes that bigger leader will not let you get the bites you are looking for.

Soaking live pinfish towards the base of a dock or bridge on an outbound tide in one of the local passes is a great way to target these guys and, in that situation, you can get away with heavier 60lb test since you are not trying to get the active feeders on the surface who are pickier.

There has not been a lot of big ones in the passes yet, but they will soon be there! Back in the bay, during the day around the flats, we have seen some great snook action too. They are really biting well along the flats, islands, rocky points and virtually everywhere. This is a great time to go catch and release some fun-to-catch snook. 

Trout have been active around the area too and we have been seeing some big boys caught lately as well. They are active during the day around the cuts, potholes, and edges of the flats. High tide around the mangrove shorelines is a good place to target them too.

At night, we are seeing them super active around those bridge lights and dock lights close to the passes mixed in with snook and redfish but often the trout will be on the light near the surface while snook hang on the edges and redfish typically below. 

Mackerel are still highly active around the area and we're seeing plenty caught along the beaches and around the passes and mouth of Tampa Bay. You can find them on the edges of the deeper flats that are holding bait, but most often people will target them from fishing piers or jetties in the early part of the day. If you are on a boat around the Egmont Key shipping channel and Pass-a-Grille’s channel, it's a great place to look for them or anywhere along the beach if you can find the bait. 

Near shore and offshore

Mackerel and kingfish are dominating the near shore waters right now. Many of our private fishing charters have been solely dedicated to trolling and drifting for these guys if our clients want a lot of action and do not have grouper and snapper as a main target.

They are super thick around the 30-70 feet range, hanging on those structures that hold bait like the near shore artificial reefs, mitigation sites, rock piles, Egmont Key channel area, and everywhere in between. Even around hard bottom areas, we are finding concentrations of mackerel and the occasional kingfish. This is the time of year you never want to forget your flat line. 

Sailfish start showing up this time of year too and you can pick them up miraculously while targeting those kingfish and mackerel occasionally. However, keep in mind, with billfish you always want to keep them in the water whenever possible. We caught one the other day by chance on our party boat half-day fishing trip inside 50 feet of water less than 15 miles from shore. However, since this boat has such high gunnels and the deck is so high from the water and we were not expecting this type of catch, our main goal is always to dehook and release the fish as healthy as possible, so we had to hoist it on board quickly to dehook the fish instead of cutting the line or having it struggle at the surface while we try and use our turtle dehooking device on a long pole.

Then we snapped a picture as we hoisted it back overboard quickly. Also, these guys are super fragile so if you do happen to hook one of these beautiful fish, we try and hoist it to the boat more quickly than we would a kingfish. If they get too tired from a fight often, they will not have the stamina to swim off healthy and need to be revived. 

Hogfish bite is still happening and we're still catching decent numbers, but it is no longer a hot bite by any means. They have slowed considerably compared to the cooler months where we were seeing 15-25 keeper or more on our ten-hour all-days. Nowadays, a great hogfish bite is around a dozen keeper hogfish or less.

Smaller boats like our private charters really dialing into the hogfish in around 30-70 feet are still getting some good numbers but they are starting to get trickier to catch in good concentrations by hook and line. They are spreading out and the big ones are moving off the ledges to form their spawning sites in small groups. 

Red grouper bite has been going super well for us out deep offshore. We are seeing a good bite on these guys past around 140 feet of water. This past week, our Flying HUB 2 had almost 30 keeper red grouper and 14 large keeper scamp on a 12-hour extreme trip which is our unique split charter style trip aboard this unique faster vessel. They are loving those live pinfish, large strips of cut squid and the cut threadfins.

Plus, some guys are using those slow pitch jigs more and more with great success on the red grouper too! Near shore in less than 100 frrt we are seeing some red grouper action, but it is not super prolific or concentrated like it is in the deeper water potholes. 

Mangrove snapper are biting near shore around 50 frrt of water or more, but the big ones and consistent action is out deeper past around 120-140 frrt of water. Lane snapper are biting very well for us near shore around 40-90 feet of water. 

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!"