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 February 14, 2020.
The redfish bite has been good throughout the area this past week. With the warming trend, it seemed to get these guys excited from the back bays to the passes and everywhere in between.
We saw great action along the back bay areas on the structures like docks and oyster bars. In the passes, it was similar around the docks and bridges were best for the redfish. Small pinfish, live shrimp and soft plastic paddle tails were all working well this past week with water temperatures approaching the 70s once again.
Silver trout action was great after the weekend weather settled down all around the piers, jetties, and passes. We saw great catches of silver trout during the day and through the nighttime period on soft plastics and also the live shrimp.
Whiting are thick along the beaches and the beachside piers right now hitting live shrimp or slow-moving lures along the bottom. These guys are tons of fun on light tackle for the whole family and very cooperative feeders once you dial in on their area.
Speckled trout action was great this past week once the weather calmed from the grass flats to the passes. We saw speckled trout on live shrimp, soft plastics, and slow-moving jerk baits like the mirror lures. Edges of the flats or potholes up on the flats are great areas to target the speckled trout during the day.
At night, around the docks, bridges and structures holding bait in their lights are great areas to catch plenty of speckled trout too.
Mackerel and bluefish were around the mouth of the bays and most of the passes this past week pretty heavily feeding. This is somewhat odd to still have decent numbers of mackerel this time of year but we’re having a very mild winter which may be why they are still around. The bluefish don’t mind the cold but they still showed up despite the mild winter making it a great time for the gotcha plugs around the Skyway piers, Fort De Soto piers or Big Pier 60 and also in most of the passes on the outgoing tides.
Bluefish have been most common during the night while mackerel or more prevalent during the day this past week.
Sheepshead are biting very well on just about any structure you can find. The warming trend this week didn’t slow them down at all which was a pleasant surprise for many local anglers.
The sheepshead loved the cut clams around our docks this past week but you can get them on small pieces of shrimp, fiddlers, oysters, barnacles and even sandfleas with the lighter tackle and minimal weight to keep your bait right against the structures they feed against.
Snook bite was going well this past week, as well as the warmer waters had them on the move spreading out throughout the area onto the flats, out of the river mouths and back bay hiding spots they have been calling home during the cooler weather at the end of last week. Like the redfish, the structures were a good place to find them, but they did spread onto the flats at the mouth of Tampa Bay especially around the Fort De Soto area.
Pompano are showing up on the south side of our area pretty well and are working their way north. Early morning along the beaches is the best time to target them with the docs jigs, nekid ball jigs or even the small bucktail style pompano jigs. Bouncing these lures just off the sand to mimic their main prey item, the sand flea, is what works to produce the best action and the most pompano. The passes will also see these guys too, but they move around quite a bit and are tough to really dial into unless you get lucky and find the numbers.
The hogfish bite has been good this past week, a little hit-and-miss, but for the most part, we had some epic days. For example, on our half-day trip this past week we netted nearly 20 keeper hogfish. The all-day trips were close to 30 on the good days too.
Plus, besides the hogfish we were seeing some nice-sized mangroves, plenty of lane snapper, some vermillion snapper and even the occasional flounder on the swing or drift. Red grouper bite isn’t crazy but we're seeing a few decent keeper grouper from time to time too.
The all-day trip is getting most of the action around 60 to 100 feet of water while the half-day trip is fishing around 40 to 50 feet and mainly getting the hogfish and plenty of white grunts or what we call grey snapper.
The hogfish bite is best around 40 to 90 feet of water this past week on the live shrimp and knocker rig with around 1oz lead 3-4ot hook and 15-20ft of 30lb floro on a spinning rod and reel combo with around 25-30lb braid.
Mangrove snapper, lane snapper, and vermillion are mixed in with the hogfish around 60 to 100 feet of water but the deeper you go the better the mangrove and lane snapper size and the more prolific the vermillion.
Red grouper we are seeing sporadically through the nearshore waters but we're seeing better consistency on keeper-sized fish the deeper you get.
The 39-hour mid-week trip went well this week for us at Hubbard’s Marina.
They had great nighttime bites on snapper, tuna, and some strawberry grouper along with some heads and tails like almaco jacks, porgies and some yellowtail snapper.
During the day, the bite was a little pickier. With the pressure changing, the fishing slowed down a bit on us, but we were able to pick up some more snapper, a good handful or two of grouper and a few more tuna.
We’re looking forward to the light loads we have on our 39-hour trips the last two Fridays in February to target more of these large mangrove snappers, yellowtail snapper, vermillion, porgies and almaco jacks we have been seeing with some grouper species mixed in.
Plenty of the big strawberry grouper, some nice red grouper, and the occasional scamp were caught despite the deep-water closure. Remember, as long as you’re fishing inside the closure line you're able to harvest the grouper.
The nighttime tuna bite added plenty of excitement to the trip and they do bite best around the early morning hours before sunrise.