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 Dec. 11, 2020.
Sheepshead have been on fire lately and only seem to be getting more and more prolific. The cooler waters bring these guys out in masses to local structures like docks, piers, jetties, bridges, oyster bars, and essentially anything that may have some barnacles or oysters growing.
They love fiddler crabs, mud crabs, mangrove crabs and other crustaceans even shrimp! However, you can catch 'em on small pieces of fresh dead shrimp or even live shrimp. I have caught plenty on cut oysters or clams too. These guys need lighter tackle in the 15-20lb test range and around a 1ot hook with minimal lead.
Most sheepshead fisherman will use a small split shot and change sizes to keep minimal weight to hold that bait close to the base of the structures you are fishing. These guys are great eating fish just a little tricky to fillet. Also, they make a great target this time of year for good eats and a good fight for any level experienced angler.
Trout bite has been great lately too and seems to be getting better with larger more aggressive fish. We are seeing a lot of 20+ inch fish caught lately! They are biting around the dock and bridge lights at night. During the day, around the dock lines, grass flats and even around the passes we are finding these guys.
They love live shrimp or live whitebait or even soft plastics. My favorite trout lure would be the DOA shrimp but any artificial shrimp works. The Mirror Lures are great jerk bait options for trout and the Top Pup option is great for top water trout action in the early morning or dusk hours. The big trout have been hanging around the shallow flats mixed in with the bountiful mullet.
Whiting and silver trout action around the jetties, beach fishing piers and along the beach have picked up lately. We see these guys just past the surf line or in the gullies that run parallel to the beach in between the sandbars. They love shrimp weighted to the bottom but the whiting will even hit squid.
Snook action has been a little slower this past week around the passes at night. A few were caught but the numbers are definitely down and the active trout were more aggressive biting first. We are seeing plenty of them around the flats, mangrove shore lines, and dock lines further back into the bays. Especially at the mouths of creeks or rivers, we are seeing a lot of our local snook move back that way for their winter time stay.
The snook will head back into the bays around that dark bay mud to try and stay warm during the cooler months of the year before pushing back out to the passes and beaches late spring to stage up for their spawn. Back waters snook fishing is great this time of year if you can find em staged up around the bayous, mangroves and flats.
Redfish action is really steady right now. It was a little tougher this week due to weather and that cold front muddying up our local waters, but those redfish love the cooler temperatures. We are seeing them around the passes day and night all the way up to the upper bay areas. They love the cut dead bait, live shrimp or whitebait, soft plastics, swim baits and even gold spoons. Look for them around the mangrove shore lines, oyster bars, grass flats and around the schools of mullet.
Black drum are going well around local structures and even along some of the local grass flats adjacent to structure or oyster bars. The love shrimp or crabs on the bottom and they make a great meal if they are on the smaller end of things. The larger ones are more of a sportfish with most anglers releasing them to fight another day.
Flounder action is heating up around the area. We are seeing some nice ones around our local flats, docks, bridges and piers. They love hanging on the sand bottom adjacent to an area that will hold bait. They will hide in the sand and ambush passing bait that is right on or near the bottom.
Retrieving the lure slowly or using live shrimp with minimal to no weight is a great way to target them. I like targeting the sandy edges of the flats on the down tide side where the water is being pushed off the flat.
Near shore and offshore
Hogfish bite is continuing to impress for sure. We are seeing lots of these fish from around 30-70 feet of water but sometimes even deeper we catch them too.
They love live shrimp on lighter tackle. Around 20-40lb test leader with around 3-4ot hooks are the best options for hogfish. The most popular set up is around a ½-1oz egg sinker and then around 3-5 red beads and then a hook rigged up knocker-rig style. However, we also use those Nekid ball jigs around 1 or 2 ounces in green, white or pink for hogfish with great success too!
Lane snapper are plentiful right now and were seeing some big boys too. Right around 50-110 feet of water is the best area to find these great eating snapper. They will take a chunk of threadfin, chunks of squid or even a live shrimp too.
Normally, most are in the 10-14 inch range but we are seeing some 18-20 inches -- plus! These are great eating snapper and seemingly only get more and more prolific and large each year.
Mangrove snapper action right now is steady and we're seeing bigger ones too. They are mostly offshore but we catch them as shallow as 50-60 feet near shore too. They love those live shrimp or chunks of threadfin and the big ones closer to 10lbs in the deeper waters will even take a smaller live pinfish. I prefer live shrimp to target them inside 80 feet of water and beyond around that depth I would prefer a threadfin chunk on the double snell rig.
Gag grouper action is going very well around the shallower near shore waters from the Tampa Bay shipping channel to around 15-20 miles. We are seeing them feeding actively and more and more show up shallower each time we get a big front and some adverse weather. They love live bait like big pinfish or pigfish but a squirrelfish works well too.
We have seen some big girls offshore on the cut bonita strips too, but the good old whole threadfin with the tail cut works well too. Heavier leaders around 60-80lb is minimum near shore. Offshore, 80-100lbs is the minimum leader size and your hook size will depend on the size of bait but typically 6-8ot is typically but really big baits I will use up to a 10-12ot hook.
Red grouper action is going very well for us right now from around 70-140 feet of water with the best bites on large pieces of cut dead bait. Live bait works for the red grouper too but a strip of bonita, octopus tentacle, or squid strip is a great option. Also, butterflied fish are great red grouper baits too like butterflied squirrel fish or white grunts.
Kingfish action is harder to come by lately near shore. We are still seeing them from time to time but they are definitely thinned out compared to a few weeks ago since the water has cooled so much.
Blackfin tuna on the other hand are getting more prolific around the offshore waters as the temperatures cool off. We will even see them in the deeper near shore waters once it really cools off. The best months for these guys is around January and February, around the new or full moon.
The new moon-sunrise bite is typically the most epic blackfin tuna action we ever see. These guys will eat the trolling plugs or skirts, flat lined threadfin or even tail hooked pinfish. Sometimes you can get them knocker rigging too!