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 January 17, 2020.
The snook bite this past week has been pretty good. The recent warm-up helped them pick up a bit over the week.
We are seeing snook from the passes to the back bays and the warmer weather seemed to spur more action through the areas that have seen less snook as of late. However, we have a very cool week coming so they will likely be on-the-move further up into the bay with the cooling trend on its way again.
The sheepshead are still thick throughout the bays, passes and intercostal -- especially around the bridges, piers, docks and jetties. Even with the warmer, clearer waters this week, the sheepshead seemed to still be biting well.
The positive news with the adverse weather coming this upcoming week is that the sheepshead will get very active and should feed even better through the cooler muddier waters. Just make sure to bundle up because mid-week will be definitely chilly, but the sheepshead bite should be hot.
Trout are really biting well around the edges of the flats and in the potholes of the flats. These guys move around a bit with the weather but they stay pretty consistent throughout this time of year biting well. Soft plastic lures moving slowly just above the grass has been a great way to catch plenty of trout as of late -- especially the white, gold and silver colors.
Redfish are around the oyster bars, shallow mangrove shorelines and the residential docks. We have seen decent redfish action around the area but the best action seems to be working the residential dock lines during the daytime with soft plastic lures on the light jig heads.
These guys are baking themselves around that dark bay mud underneath the residential docks in the mouths of the local canals. Small pinfish do work very well for the redfish too, or greenbacks if you can’t find the small pinfish.
The hogfish bite is off-the-chain right now from around 40 feet to around 70 feet. We are seeing those hogfish biting very well.
We love to use live shrimp, but you can also use fiddler crabs, rock shrimp, or sand fleas. They will even take the special Nekid Ball Jigz lures too, but most people will use those in conjunction with live shrimp.
We are seeing some good size the hogfish too, but there will be some smaller ones mixed in and they are very difficult to get back down healthy if you delay at all. They must be 14 inches to the inside fork or middle of their tail to the tip of their closed mouth. So, nearly 16 to 17 inches in total length is a pretty decent size already.
Whenever we are targeting hogfish, we have rulers ready and we stand by to quickly unhook and release any undersized fish as quickly as humanly possible. The shorter time they are at the surface and out of the water exponentially increases the possibility of these guys surviving and being able to swim back down to bottom. You can get bigger and legal-sized the next time you land them. Still use that 30lb floro leader with around 1oz egg sinker and a 3-4ot hook for the best shot at catching lots of those hogfish.
Apart from the hogfish, we are also seeing lots of the lane snapper too around the 60 to 100-foot areas. We are seeing good amounts of lane snapper action. Plus, along with the lane snapper, we are seeing some nice mangrove snapper come up too.
Mangroves are great eating fish and so are lane snapper. They will eat the live shrimp you’re using for the hogfish, but both will take cut threadfin plugs on the double snell rig. Lane snapper will even take cut squid too. When targeting lanes specifically I would suggest cut squid, but for targeting mangroves I prefer the double snell rig and the cut threadfin.
However, for both species, around a 4ot hook and 30-40lb test is what I would be using near shore in these depths this time of year.
Right now, the offshore bite is very hot especially out deep. We had a 39-hour trip come in yesterday morning with a huge pile of fish. I was lucky enough to get out on this trip to do some fun fishing myself with my cousin, Captain Garett Hubbard, behind the wheel running the trip.
We were able to get some great action on the snapper species through the nighttime periods. They seemed extra willing to cooperate, likely due to the backside of the full moon.
We caught mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, lane snapper, silk snapper, and even some mutton snapper. Plus, a few kingfish joined the nighttime activity as well.
During the day, we went out even deeper and hit areas for red grouper, scamp grouper, and more snapper. We noticed that the mangroves are biting much better in deeper waters closer to 200 feet instead of closer to 120 feet where we had been doing well through the fall.
Also, the red grouper are definitely moving out deeper in greater numbers, likely gearing up for their spawn. It’s a great time to get them the next few weeks before that deepwater closure goes into effect for red grouper only.