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. 26, 2021.
Warming waters have brought the return of the mackerel! Plus, we have this full moon moving lots of water and helping to get those mackerel excited even more with bait concentrating around local fishing piers.
This is early for those mackerel to show up in such good numbers but were seeing plenty around the Skyway, beaches and the passes are starting to get decent numbers too. Looks like an even warmer weekend ahead so these guys could be around even more through the next week biting aggressively on fast moving flashy lures, or free lined white bait. I like those long shank 1ot hooks to keep them from biting through my 20lb floro leaders.
We have also seen a great bite of snook around the area lately too. Many of these fish are leaving those bayous, river mouths and creeks they have taken refuge in through our ‘wintertime’ cooling period. These guys are flooding the flats and even making moves back to the passes. We have seen some great numbers of snook starting to show back up in the passes around the dock and bridge lights.
Redfish action has been steady through the area with good numbers still around local residential docks and commercial dock structures, even out to the passes. These redfish are also in good numbers around the flats, oyster bars and mangrove shorelines hanging in good concentrations. They love those soft plastics moving slowly on or just above the bottom, or live shrimp or white bait make great options for the redfish too.
The pompano are starting to show up in better and better numbers around ana maria, Fort De Soto, Egmont Key and Shell Key. Hoping they get more prolific through the weekend with warming waters and great weather. These guys love hunting those sand fleas, shrimp, and other small crustaceans around that sandy bottom of our local area.
Using the nekid ball jigz, Doc’s goofy jigs or the pompano jigs are all great artificial options, but you can catch 'em using live shrimp, fiddlers or sand fleas for live bait options too! These guys move around a lot and you must find that clear water around those sandy edges near the mouth of Tampa Bay right now.
Sheepshead still biting very well around the area despite the warming trend. We are seeing great numbers lately around the rock piles and structures of the bay area. Many anglers are catching great numbers of these fish around bridges and docks using fiddler crabs or small pieces of shrimp. Great time to go catch the end of their big spawning numbers before it continues to warm and spread these fish out for the summer.
Black drum are continuing to bite well around some local bridges but we're seeing some real big boys cruising the flats too. They will bite a variety of baits, but the live shrimp or crabs are a favorite bait of theirs.
DON’T FORGET, today, the FWC is discussing the EO for snook, redfish and trout and we could possibly see a vote to remove that order at the end of May! Snook would remain closed until their season opened but perhaps you may be able to start keeping redfish and trout again this summer.
It's going to be an interesting meeting today and you can listen in and even call in and give comment if you want to be heard by the commission. Here is the link to the agenda and more about today’s FWC commission meeting.
Near shore and offshore
Hogfish action improved for us this week with the improving weather and it looks like a gorgeous stretch ahead too. We continue to see these guys biting best around 40-60 feet of water.
You can see them as shallow as 30 feet and as deep as 80 feet fairly consistently -- if you can find those good smaller ledges and quality hard bottom with plenty of sea fans and bait for these fish to scavenge. They love cruising just above the bottom looking for crustaceans like fiddler crabs, sandfleas, rock shrimp, and especially the typical live shrimp.
They are the last to bite though, so using live shrimp causes you to sort through many of the more aggressive fish first before having a shot at the hogfish.
We are seeing lots of the lane snapper near shore right now up to the shallower offshore waters while we are targeting hogfish and those red grouper inside the closure line. These lanes love a variety of bait and were seeing an exceptionally large average size closer to around 16 inches lately too. They are great eating and fun to catch especially with the lighter tackle we use to target the hogfish near shore.
Mangrove snapper are consistent near shore but biting best deeper offshore around 120-160 feet of water. We are fishing beyond the closure for grouper at night on our long-range trips to capitalize on those great mangrove bite then moving inside the closure area during the day to hunt those red grouper, scamp, and hinds.
Red grouper bite is going well for us just inside the closure and were having some nice catches of decent sized fished around 100-120 feet of water. Inside that, in the near shore areas, we are catching a few red grouper here and there but the bite is more sporadic. These fish love big dead baits like chunks of bonita, whole threadfins, or the strips of squid for bait.
The blackfin tuna action has picked up a bit this past week offshore around 120 feet plus is where we are seeing them most, but you can find a few as shallow as 100 feet from time to time. They love that flat line or knocker rig action, but you can pick them up trolling plugs between spots too.