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 June 26, 2020.
Snook continue to dominate inshore. The night bite and early morning action seems best when the water isn’t so hot for those fish.
Around the passes at night, the snook are thick on structures where water is pushing bait past ambush points -- especially where the lights of bridges or dock are holding more baits. Pass crabs work really well to get these snook feeding with lighter tackle you can free line these guys up on the surface for great action inside the passes.
However, soft plastics and flairhawk style artificials work too to get the snook eating. Live pinfish work very well too, most of our daytime action around the passes have been on the live pinfish or pigfish. The snook are all over the Bay Area too -- up on the flats, around the mangroves and back in the bays too.
During the day, you can find 'em on the beaches too. The early-morning hours seem best when those fish are not so hot, they seem to feed more actively. On the beach, super-light tackle and live shrimp is the best bet.
Mangrove snapper action is going well throughout the area too. We are seeing lots of mangrove snapper around the local piers, docks, bridges and jetties. Plus, inside Tampa Bay, the rock piles and edges of the shipping channel are holding plenty of mangrove snapper. These guys can also be found up on the mangrove shorelines working bait schools and chasing shrimp.
Light tackle and small pieces of white bait or shrimp work well. You can chum them up in big clouds at slower tides and really get dialed in on these voracious feeders.
Mackerel are still pretty thick inshore, but mostly in the morning hours around our local fishing pies of the beaches, like the gulf pier of Fort De Soto, the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria Pier 60 in Clearwater. These guys are chasing those early morning bait schools when the water is clear and calm. You can pick off mackerel using casting spoons or my favorite, the gotcha plugs. Local jetties of our passes will work too if you're trying to catch a mackerel or two in the morning between sunrise and mid morning.
Flounder are picking up in the area, finally starting to see some good action on these guys around the edges of the flats, around the structures and potholes. Flounder love to ambush passing shrimp, mud minnows or small pinfish that wonder to close to their sandy lairs.
Trout action is going pretty good around the area. At night, in the passes, they are mixed in with the snook action. During the day, deeper grass flats and edges of shallower flats are the best areas to look for these hungry trout. Soft plastics, white bait or live shrimp are the best bets to target trout.
Redfish action has been tougher lately, but they are doing best in the back bays right now and cut bait out on the flats or around the oyster bars are best. The water is hot and these fish are opportunistic feeders conserving their energy. Cut threadfins are a great option for targeting redfish around the flats or oyster bars of the back bay waters.
Tarpon fishing has slowed quite a bit lately, but there’s still a few fish around. Most are offshore spawning at this point. However, we are seeing fish still around the bridges of Tampa Nay and in the passes at night. During the day still a few hanging in our passes and along the beaches.
We are seeing a good bite of snapper species in the near shore waters. Many wonder what exactly qualifies as near shore, and to me that’s around 20-100 feet of water from the beaches to around 20 miles from shore.
Right now, in the deeper near shore waters, from around 60-100 feet of water, we are seeing hungry lane snapper, vermillion snapper, a few nice mangroves and the occasional red grouper.
This is the productive depth for these guys on a variety of baits. My personal go-to is always the double snelled threadfin plug to get a shot at a little of everything. The grouper will take that, but so will a smaller snapper and everything in between.
When targeting red grouper, I like a live pinfish or a squid strip about a ½-3/4 wide to around 6-10 inches long to mimic an octopus tentacle which is a red grouper’s favorite prey item near shore.
They will also take threadfins with the tail trimmed. Never forget to cut the tail on your dead baits offshore, these will act as helicopter blades under the water and make your baits spin on the way to bottom causing massive tangles for you and the fish won’t want to eat that tangled mess either.
Snapper species will love that double snelled threadfin plug but if the bite is being picking lighter tackle and a live shrimp or greenback is a great option to get snapper fired up!
We are seeing mahi mahi around the near shore waters occasionally as shallow as around 40 feet of water. From around that depth all the way out and beyond near shore waters you have a chance of getting a school of mahi mahi coming up on your boat while bottom fishing.
This time of year, it’s important to be rigged and ready for those passing fish. Remember how we talked about the importance of cutting off your tails from your dead threadfins? One of my favorite chums to keep the mahi around the boat when they swim past is a handful of threadfin tails. They sink slowly and suspend and have enough flash and smell to keep that school around the boat for a minute or two until you can get a small shrimp or chunk of threadfin on a 2-3ot hook and light tackle in front of those fish.
Remember, once you get one hooked to leave it in the water next to the boat until you can hook a second. Then you can remove the first and work on a third. This method will keep the fish near the boat while you can get your fill of mahi!
Please make sure if your heading offshore that you know how to properly descend or properly vent your fish and how and why to do these methods. I cannot stress the importance of this enough and I need your help to spread this message across our fishery in the gulf!
Especially during the warm summer months our deeper water fisheries beyond 90-100 frrt become super susceptible to this barotrauma issue and the longer those fish take to get to the surface and the longer they are at or above the surface will only exponentially increase the likelihood of severe and possibly fatal barotrauma effects.
It's beyond important to ensure the survival of our discarded fish and to preserve our recreational access further that you get your fish up quickly, get them dehooked easily and efficiently, then back down either with a venting tool or descending device in a very timely manner.
Here is the page we designed with the help of our friends at Salt Strong to talk about how to vent fish.
As far as fishing reports go offshore, the start of this past week was tough out there offshore the fishing was picky and the lack of wind, waves or anchor headings made it difficult to get on cooperative fish.
Early morning or late afternoons seemed best with even the nighttime bite going pretty slow for us. Luckily, mid-week things started to get better and by the end of the week things were normalizing for us. This upcoming week looks to bring us more great weather and hopefully some more great fishing. With the conditions offshore, you definitely want to try and catch that morning bite or sundown bite as much as you can.
However, make sure to watch the weather closely as this time of year can be so variable with last minute storms that can arise out of nowhere with little to no warning. Plus, those afternoon thunderstorms can sometimes be very severe that will blow up over land and move off the coast, blocking your safe return to port.
Red snapper are biting well out there starting around 110-130 feet of water. However, they are picky and few and far between until you can get out to around 140-160 feet. We spend most of our red snapper fishing time from around 160-250 feet of water. These guys love a huge variety of baits and methods from live bait to dead bait and even those vertical jigs or the soft plastic grub tails on the 1-3oz jig heads.
Gag grouper are biting best out deep too from around 120-160ft you can start to find a few but the deeper you go the easier it is to find good numbers of these aggressive big grouper. They like that deeper water in the warm summer months and will slowly inch their way into shallow waters as the fall and winter approaches.
We are seeing the red grouper biting decently from around 110-200 feet of water mixed in on those red snapper bait shows on the flat hard bottom and potholes of the deep water. Plus, some scamp grouper as you get closer or beyond 180-200ft of water.
Mangrove snapper fishing has been a little hit-and-miss but towards the end of this week we dialed in on some really big mangrove snapper in the 6-9lb range closer to around 160-200 feet of water. However, you can find plenty of mangroves starting around 100-140 feet of water on those ledges and rock piles.