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 August 14, 2020.
Snook fishing continues to be more like catching around our area’s passes, beaches, grass flats, dock lines and nearly everywhere on a variety of baits. At night, the dock lights, bridge lights and anything holding bait will hold big numbers of snook this time of year.
We are seeing record numbers of snook feeding very actively in the early morning hours prior to sunrise around John's Pass and many other local passes. At night, free-lined live bait on the surface in the start of the outbound tide is working well for plentiful snook.
Live shrimp, finger mullet, pass crabs, even ladyfish are all great options for live bait. Soft plastics, swim baits, hard jerk baits or even the flair hawks are all working well too for artificials. During the day, many snook are still out on the beaches and more are on the back flats now. We are also seeing them along the dock lines closer to the bottom trying to hide from the heat of the summer.
The shady area provided by the docks are allowing snook to congregate and blast any passing baits.
Mangrove snapper fishing is also exceptionally good throughout the area right now as we are seeing plenty of these hungry and good eating fish around the structures of our local area. Any bridge, dock, pier, jetty or seawall will hold plenty of hungry mangrove snapper ready to eat. A little chum is a great way to get them congregated and feeding even more heavily.
Sheepshead are intermixed with the mangroves around the docks, bridges, and jetties feeding on fiddler crabs and small pieces of shrimp. They are much fewer and further between compared to the mangrove snapper, but the further back in the bay you get the more you can find these sheepshead ready to eat.
Sharks are thick throughout the bay and channels right now. This is the time of the year we see tons of juvenile sharks caught around the Bay Area and they seem even more prevalent now. The flats, bridges, passes, channels almost anywhere you can find plenty of 2-4 foot sharks with a little chumming and cut dead bait. Even the surf of our beautiful beaches are loaded down with a variety of shark pups right now which make tons of fun for anglers of all levels and experience to target.
Trout fishing is going well at night around the docks and bridge lights. During the day, plentiful trout are being caught around the flats especially on the edges or deeper flats. Little chumming of white bait will get them more actively feeding and light tackle is key.
Redfish bite is picking up nicely right now throughout the bay. Cut dead bait on the bottom like cut pinfish, ladyfish, or mullet work well. Live shrimp or white bait will also work well along with soft plastic artificial lures. Seeing big schools of redfish along the shorelines of Tampa Bay and around local grass flats where these guys can congregate and feed well around 2-4 feet of water.
Mackerel have been active lately around the early morning hours near local fishing piers and the grass flats at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Lots of moving water and bait being active and congregated are both needed to keep the mackerel there and interested.
Tarpon are thinned out around the area but were starting to see an influx in smaller tarpon being active around the passes at night and in the early morning. Big fish are still around here and there but most have moved on. Bridges at night seem to be the best aggregation areas for tarpon this past week.
We have seen a solid bite this past week near shore. Deeper near shore waters are producing better with hotter waters locally. The best action seems to be around 70-100 feet of water with the lane snapper, mangrove snapper, vermillion snapper, and the occasional red grouper.
The gag grouper seem to either be offshore or some are along the shipping channel and Skyway at the mouth of Tampa Bay.
The pelagic action is mostly concentrated offshore right now with severely warm waters near shore we are not seeing many if any mackerel, kingfish, or mahi around near shore.
Hogfish have been picky lately. It's been hard to find shrimp in good sizes and quantity to target them in the heat of the summer but we are starting to finally see an uptick in the shrimp supply and size and should see our hogfish targeting abilities ramp up.
However, during the summer they become more leader shy and picky. Lighter 20-30lb floro becomes even more important. We like around a 3-4ot hook and around 3-4 red beads above the hook where around a 1oz egg sinker is on the top shot rigged knocker rig style. Fishing around a 3000-4000 series spinner loaded with 20-30lb braid and a 15-20 feet piece of either 20lb or 30lb floro for a super long leader or top shot to your hook.
This same method will work well for plentiful lanes, vermillion and maybe even a red grouper if you can pull him up. We see more mangrove snapper using sardine or threadfin chunks, but the live shrimp can work it is just trickier to target these quick biting fish with shrimp.
Right now, offshore fishing is going well. Weather is great, and the fish are biting. However, we are finding that the closer you are to around 200 feet of water, the better the bite can be. We have had some tough days in shallower and have pushed out deeper looking for hungry large amberjack. That push has really uncovered some nice numbers of mangrove snapper.
We have been suffering with low mangrove snapper numbers for the past few weeks. Well, that all changed this week on our mid-week 39-hour trip. After an extremely long run, we finally started fishing nearly 100 miles from John's Pass in waters nearly 200 feet deep and the mangrove snapper turned on like never before.
We got a boat limit of mangrove snapper along with some keeper amberjack and some nice grouper too! Nice little change of pace this week as we finally honed into the area all our mangrove snapper have been held up.
Likely due to spawning, these fish do tend to mover around a bit. Luckily, we are now able to dial in on them more for the rest of the summertime season. The gag grouper fishing has also been steady, decent and extraordinary for the warm summer months. However, most of that has to do with fishing again deeper than normal.
Our whole red snapper season is spent 160-200 feet and it seems we're going to spend most of our late summer and early fall in ranges even a little deeper than that.
Closer to shore, around 120-160 feet of water, is great for some red grouper action right now, plentiful lanes, and vermillion. However, if you want the huge vermillion, mangrove snapper and chances for some huge gags like the 30lb to nearly 40lb gags, we have been seeing going deeper to 180-220 feet, which has been a great way to do it.
Plus, the pelagic action has been on fire out deep lately with plentiful tuna. The kingfish, some mahi and the occasional nice wahoo are all ready to eat the trollers, flat lines or vertical jigs.