Fishing Report: March 12, 2021

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 March 12, 2021.

Inshore

Sheepshead are still highly-active around the area despite approaching the end of their spawn.

We are seeing a good number of these fish still congregated around the local docks, bridges, piers, jetties, and rock piles of our local area. The rock piles around the bay are holding nice-sized sheepshead, but you can find them around bigger docks and local bridges too. Many still targeting residential canals with success for sheepshead too.

These guys love those small crabs, pieces of shrimp or cut clams or oysters. Light tackle is key with minimal weight just enough to get that bait into their faces adjacent to the structure. 

Mangrove snapper are getting more and more prolific around the local structures right now in increasing numbers and size. Many are seeing these guys around local bridges, docks, piers, and the rock piles of the bay. Some nice ones have been caught this past week around the Skyway too! These guys love that the water is warming up and they will be getting more aggressive and more concentrated as the summer approaches.

They love those live shrimp on around a 1ot hook. The key with mangrove snapper is making sure you have a light wire hook with a minimal barb to ensure you can set the hook quickly when they try and steal your shrimp. They are super quick biting and thus tons of fun to target. Plus, they are great eating fish too! 

Mackerel have shown back up in good number along our beaches, around the passes, fishing piers and bridges of the bay. Plus, around those deeper flats holding bait from Upper Tampa Bay to the mouth of the bay, we're seeing some solid mackerel action.

The kingfish are starting to show up a bit too. We have seen some schoolie sized kings just off the beaches and were looking forward to a few of them pushing up into the mouth of the bay once again. Look for the mackerel and perhaps a kingfish around these areas in the earlier morning before boat traffic or sea breeze picks up. Try and find those areas where bait is active and even better when it is up on the surface being worked by the fish. This is easy to spot since birds will be active around the bait school and they will be up on the surface breaking water. 

Pompano action is picking up around the area. We are seeing them around local bridges, in those sandy passes and along the channels, around the islands at the mouth of the bay too. It's a great time to get out there and try to find these elusive pompano. They love those crustaceans on the bottom, but most target them with the pompano jigs, like the doc’s goofy jig. 

Snook are moving out of the rivers and back to the passes. It is early but they are already starting to stage for that summertime move to the beaches. Plenty of them are stopping along the way around local grass flats and mangrove shorelines. Residential canals are still holding snook too. 

Redfish action has been steady in the area around those mangroves at higher tides. We are seeing them in the passes and along the beaches too. Residential canals are holding some redfish too. Plus, there are some nice schools of redfish to be found moving through the area still as well. 

Trout action is going very well this past week and we're still seeing a large average size of trout even though the water is starting to warm up. These guys love those edges, cuts, potholes, and anywhere they can stage up to ambush passing bait around the flats, shorelines, docks, bridges, piers and just about anywhere in the area. At night around the bridge lights and dock lights the trout action has been good as well! 

Flounder have picked up a bit this past week. We have seen quite a few caught around local docks, bridges, and seawalls. However, you can find them around the sandy areas in and around the grass flats too. They love those live shrimp on the bottom or artificial shrimp or paddle tails worked slowly just moving along the sand. 

Black drum have been super thick in the area with some big schools moving around the seawalls, grass flats, shorelines, and into the passes too. They hang out around bridges and big dock structures often too when they are not cruising around in large schools.

Many are catching them by soaking half blue crabs around the bridges or large shrimp on the bottom. If you spot a school moving along the area, just about anything presented in front of them works but they love those imitation shrimp.

Near shore and offshore

It's an exciting time of year right now with the kingfish starting to show up and the mackerel are thick near shore along the beaches out to those near shore artificial reefs.

This will bring increased shark action too. Getting out there to troll those reefs, rock piles and the Egmont Key channel or even drifting those areas with some white bait chum is a great option right now. Those 1ot long shank hooks with around 20lb floro are a great option for hooking a green back on lighter spinning rods to drift or anchor fish around these reefs or even large areas of hardbottom holding bait.

You can even target them from very small boats just a few hundred yards from the beaches when weather allows. Around the entrances to passes will be an easy spot to find some bait with plenty of mackerel on them. The kingfish are still few and far between and we have mainly seen them still near shore and not on the beaches quite yet, but they are not far away from going into that full swing spring run. 

Hogfish action has been tougher for us this past week but we're still catching some here and there. They just do not seem to be as cooperative as they were as the water starts to warm. This time of year, we will push a little deeper to around 60-90 feet near shore to focus on those lanes, mangroves and perhaps some red grouper while still having a shot for hogfish.

However, the hogfish were biting extremely well around 40-60 feet of water but we're hoping to still pick a few through the coming weeks. They do not ever completely stop, but they slow down and get fewer and further between throughout the summer on hook and line action. 

Mangrove snapper action is going well for us right now. The biggest concentrations of the largest fish are out deeper past around 140 feet of water. However, we are seeing them pretty consistent as shallow as around 100 feet. Inside the near shore waters, less than 100 feet, we are seeing some good numbers of mangroves around 60-100 feet, but they are just less concentrated and prolific compared to a little deeper water.

Near shore, using a knocker rig with live shrimp is most common for them while out deeper we utilize that double snell rig leader on a fish finder rig with a chunk of threadfin with extreme success. 

Red grouper are steady around 120 feet of water right now, but the Flying HUB 2 private charters are crushing them too as shallow as around 90 feet of water. These guys and all shallow water grouper complex are still under that 20 fathom closure until the end of this month, but that has not stopped us from catching some fat red grouper and a few scamp. We are seeing a few red grouper near shore around that 60-80 feet range but it’s pretty scarce and if you want to target them I would start at least around 90 feet for the best chances. 

Triggerfish season started march first and we're seeing some big ones out there in that deep water but we're not targeting them as much at this time because they are more of a daytime feeder.

During the day, we're trying to stay a little shallower to keep those red grouper we are targeting during the day. At night, is when we are fishing deeper for those mangrove snapper. We are looking forward to that deep water closure concluding April 1 that will allow us the flexibility to push deep and target these triggerfish along with the grouper and snapper. 

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