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 Feb. 12, 2021.
This past week, we have seen finally a stable week of weather with some warming up of our local area waters. This has made the fishing a little more unique and has really excited our local snook more than they have been. Plus, the foggy conditions have made for some more overcast and active fishing.
The snook action picked up quite a bit this past week for us as the water warmed a bit. These guys showed back up in the passes a little as the water warmed up a little. Plus, where they have been hiding around the flats, dock lines and mangrove shorelines they were a bit more actively feeding and more willing to go after baits. We found some nice fish around those deeper cuts of the mangroves, around those oyster bars, hanging on that dark bay mud around the docks of residential canals and throughout the area. The snook are loving those soft plastic paddle tails, Soft plastic shrimp, live white bait, and shrimp.
Redfish action remained steady for our area this past week too. We are seeing these fish throughout the area around the local passes, flats, mangrove shorelines and dock lines. Look for them around those deeper docks hanging on the bottom ready to eat passing baits just on or just above the bottom. Redfish are generally feeding in this vicinity so working your bait too high and fast off the bottom will stop your results.
Trout action also remained steady throughout the area too with some big ones coming up around the area. We are seeing these most active around the flats in the afternoons and during the earlier part of the day hanging off the edges or drop offs around the flats. Finding those pockets adjacent to flats, dock lines, or other structure holding bait is a great place to target trout and other species in the earlier part of the day.
Snook, redfish, and trout remain catch-and-release only through end of May 2021 in our area. However, at the upcoming FWC commission meeting on February 25th and 26th the commission will be discussing the staff’s recommendation on removing this mandatory catch-and-release for these three inshore species in our area. This is some great news to many anglers as the species populations are showing huge increases locally.
If you would like to give comment on this issue, you can attend this meeting and speak publicly during the agenda item discussion, which should occur Friday morning, or you can submit advanced written comment by 5pm on Friday February 19th. Here’s the link to the agenda and the advanced comment submission link is at the top of the agenda.
Sheepshead are also biting consistently around the area currently too. These guys are loaded up on the rock piles of Tampa Bay, around our local bridges, docks, seawalls, and oyster bars too. Great time to target these sheepshead over the course of the coming few weeks. Once we get into mid-spring the sheepshead start to relax and spread out for the warmer months ahead.
These guys love those smaller crabs, small pieces of shrimp, cut oysters or clams and many even get them on those Doc’s Goofy jigs too!
Black drum are still biting well around local bridges, docks and even along the passes and beaches. They can get exceptionally large but the great eating sizes are smaller around their minimum size limit. These are tons of fun to catch especially when you find them in good numbers in an area.
Near Shore & Offshore
Hogfish continue to dominate the report once again. This is the time of year to go get these great eating unique looking fish. We are seeing them heavily from around 30-80 feet of water with the hottest action around 40-60ft of water. They love those smaller ledges, flat hard bottom or the area adjacent to those ledges or rock piles. They are super leader shy and mostly unaggressive species, so they are one of the last to chew on hook and line. However, if you can target them with the lighter tackle and live shrimp you have a great chance at fooling them into biting. It just takes sitting on a spot awhile and weeding through plenty of the more aggressive fish like the white grunts or grey snapper and then hopefully some mangrove snapper, lane snapper and some porgies before those hogfish will be able to get to your baits since they are so timid and shy.
Once you get them chewing you have a few chances before the bite dies and you must move on to the next spot repeating this process. It helps when you have a lot of shrimp smell in the water so with our larger boats it can be easier to get them chewing while on smaller boats using a little chum will help you too. Just make sure it is getting down to where your bait is and not hitting the bottom off the spot pulling the fish away from your bait.
Keep in mind, our two favorite approaches are those knocker rigs or the ball jigs. We just made an in depth video on our favorite tackle, technique and rigging for hogfish called ‘how to catch hogfish and what rig to use’ and posted that video to our ‘fishing tips and tricks’ page of our website here.
Mangrove snapper and lane snapper have also been fairly consistent mixed in around those hogfish areas lately too. We are seeing some good-sized lanes and some consistent mangrove snapper in the 14-18 inch range too. These guys continue to bite well up to and around 120ft as well. Mangroves will bite well deeper, but a lot of our fishing is focused around that 120ft mark right now during the day due to that deep water closure that is going on for the red grouper and other shallow water groupers.
Speaking of red grouper, we have seen some great action on them this week on our longer-range private fishing charters aboard the Flying HUB 2. We are seeing some good sized and consistent red grouper around 100-120ft right around and inside that closure line. The red grouper love those big dead baits or even some live pinfish. Using around 60-80lb test and around 7ot hooks is a great place to start targeting the bigger red grouper out deeper.
Red grouper, Scamp grouper, and all other shallow water groupers are now protected in the ‘deep water closure’ or ’20 fathom closure’ for the months of February and March. This means you cannot keep these species and you really should avoid targeting them beyond that closure line. Inside the line, you can keep them and once you have them on board you cannot venture past the closure line further offshore. The closure line and other info can be found at this link, but the easiest way to know you’re in an open area is to make sure you're fishing at or below 120ft of water or less than 20 fathoms.