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 21, 2020.
In a recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting, officials made a final ruling on the closure for snook, redfish, and trout. They decided to continue that for our region until the end of May 2021.
This was in response to the 2017-18 red tide in our area, and wildlife officials are trying to allow those species to rebuild their stocks before harvest begins again.
Sheepshead bite has been on fire this past week around the entire Bay Area – from the back bays to the passes. Any structure was producing plenty of the great-eating sheepshead. We should have a good bite of sheepshead for a few more weeks, but it will slow down as the water starts to warm up.
This past week we did have some warmer weather bring us some warmer waters. Luckily, this didn’t slow down the sheepshead bite thankfully and we have some chilly temperatures on the way the next few days to keep us in the range for happy, cooperative sheepshead.
Mackerel have been biting well around the area for the past two weeks. With the warmer weather periods, we have seen quite the increase in mackerel – especially around the mouth of Tampa Bay, our local passes and just off the beaches.
Speckled trout bite has been steady through the area too. During the day out on the flats, residential dock lines and mangrove shorelines are holding trout. At night, the docks or bridge lights are great places to catch trout. The soft plastic paddletail has been working very well for trout, but you can use an artificial shrimp as a great option too. Live bait, live shrimp or greenbacks are great options to catch plenty of speckled trout.
The silver trout have been super thick along the sandy bottoms of our beaches and passes. At night, targeting them around the pass can produce large numbers of silver trout. Similar to the speckled trout, the white soft plastic paddletail has been the best option.
Whiting are cooperating well around the Tampa Bay channels, along our beaches and from our local beach piers. Typically, on the bottom, you can find them ready to eat some live shrimp or slow-moving artificials like doc’s jigs. I often run into this as bycatch when targeting pompano along the beaches.
Pompano bite has been picky but present through the area. You have to hit them at the right time, in the right area and these fish can move quite a bit up and down our beaches and passes. The hot spots have been around Anna Maria Island, the Skyway approaches, Fort De Soto and Pass-A-Grille.
Snook action heated up pretty good this week along with our local waters. They really spread out nicely in a hurry as the water warmed. This past week we had an issue with our shrimp tank one morning, which caused a big escapement of shrimp. It was like summertime again with all these snook chasing and popping shrimp on the surface around our dock just before sunrise.
There have been quite a few caught during the day around the dock at Hubbard’s Marina this week too. Mostly on live shrimp or live pigfish around the dock. However, the bite went well for many anglers around the Bay Area on the flats, mangrove shorelines and the residential dock lines brought out some cooperative snook.
Redfish bite was steady this past week around the shallower mangrove shorelines, grass flats, residential docks, and oyster bars. A great area to look for them this time of year is around those grass flats holding staging mullet.
Redfish are also big fans of the slow-moving white soft plastic paddletail this past week but small pinfish, live shrimp and even greenbacks work well for the redfish too. Lighter tackle is always a good idea when the water is clearer.
Hogfish bite once again dominates the near shore reports because that, in my opinion, is the best eating, near shore fish you can catch.
They are biting very well around 40 to 80 feet of water. It’s a great time to go get them around Sunday or Monday on the backside of this weekend’s cold front before the next mid-week barrage of fronts to come. These guys love scavenging the bottom adjacent to the smaller ledges, rockpiles or flat hard bottom with lots of relief like the sea fans. They love cruising for crustaceans like small crabs, shrimp or whatever else they may find.
That’s why live shrimp or fiddler crabs are both great options to use for bait when targeting hogfish near shore. You’d always want to utilize the lighter than normal tackle when going after the hogfish near shore. Around 30lb floro carbon with 3-4ot hooks and around half ounce to one ounce lead is great starting point for the hogfish on a light, but strong, spinning rod with around a 4000-5000 series reel. This is the preferred set up when targeting these great eating but unique looking hogfish near shore.
Lane snapper have also been cooperating well near shore. Around 60 to 100 feet of water, you can find these great eating fish pretty consistently and they have been a pretty large average size. These guys will take a small piece of squid or live shrimp and we often catch quite a few when targeting hogfish in deeper waters.
Mangrove snapper action has been pretty good this past week around the same range as the lane snapper. These guys will typically take a live shrimp, cut threadfin chunks or the smaller live pinfish. It’s a great time to go get some mangrove snapper, lane snapper and hogfish around 60 to 80 feet of water when the weather allows.
We are seeing plenty of mackerel this past week from right off the beach to around 10 to 12 miles from shore. There are rumors of a few kingfish showing up, but it’s awfully early to be seeing those guys. I am hoping the incoming cooler temperatures from the multiple fronts that are coming in won’t set us back on this early mackerel run.
Weather has been tough to make our regularly scheduled offshore fishing runs.
We have not been deep since the last email newsletter due to weather. However, we know the red grouper bite is pretty good this past week around 100-120ft to the areas southwest of us. We have also seen lots of nice mangrove snapper mixed in, but the mangroves are definitely biting better a little beyond that 20 fathom (120 foot of water) grouper closure line.
We have seen some nice vermillion snapper, a few yellowtail snapper and lots of porgies around this depth range too. Plus, the blackfin tuna action has been really good lately and we’re hoping for more of the same on the backside of this bad weather.
The exciting news is that we have triggerfish opening up March 1.