Fishing Report: March 5, 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 5, 2021.

Inshore

Sheepshead are still biting strong and these recent and upcoming fronts should help us capitalize on the last few weeks of good action.

Sheepshead are thick around bridges, docks, piers, and mainly any structure of the area right now as they near the tailend of their spawn. It's a great time to get out there and take advantage of their dense numbers around the area on these structures. Fiddler crabs, small pieces of shrimp, cut oysters or clams all make great bait options for these great-eating but hard-to-fillet fish.

Sheepshead have small and awfully hard mouths. Use the lightest possible tackle but a stronger sharp hook, like a 1ot owner with 15-20lb floro and minimal weight. All you need it just enough weight to get your bait to the strike zone which is right up against that structure they circle looking for food. 

Black drum action has continued to impress this past week around the bridges, dock lines and sometimes even along the flats. These guys love shrimp or medium-sized crabs. Soaking these along the base of your local bridge or large dock complex is a great opportunity to hook up into these guys. The smaller drum are great-eating, but as they get larger, they can be tougher and more likely hold worms. However, the big ones make for a great fight and photo. 

Mackerel are moving into the area is large numbers around the beaches, passes and fishing piers. It's a great time to get out and take advantage of the start of the mackerel run. There is even a few bluefish mixed in since waters are still chilly. These guys love fast-moving flashy baits like the Gotcha plug or the casting spoons. Look for concentrations of bait and you will find actively feeding mackerel. 

Pompano action is picking up too. We're seeing more and more of these guys around those sandy passes and cuts of the area -- even edges of the channel are producing some pompano on live shrimp or those pompano jigs. The early morning -- when the water is calm and clear -- is the best time to target them around Anna Maria Island, Egmont Key, Fort De Soto, Pass-A-Grille, Blinds Pass and the Dick Misener Bridge. 

Trout bite has been on fire this past week around the flats, spoil islands, mangrove shorelines and even around the passes in the lights at night and the edges during the day.

Residential canal dock lines are still holding this fish too, but they are making the change to a more springtime feeding pattern as weather allows. The trout have super-soft mouths, so slower-action light tackle set ups are best. Early mornings in calm weather, top water action has produced well and made for exciting hook ups. Artificial shrimp, soft plastic paddle tails and slow-moving jerk baits are all great options for trout, but live shrimp and green backs are working very well too if you would prefer to drift a flat looking for the fish.

Once you dial in on some nice ones, there will be more in that area as trout tend to hangout in large concentrations waiting for passing bait. 

Snook action is heating up as the water does and we're finding them biting well from the passes all the way up through the bay. Dock lines, bridges, flats, mangroves, spoil islands, rocky points and everywhere between have been producing snook where water is moving, and bait is present.

Soft plastic paddle tails, swim baits, and jerk baits all great options for the snook artificial wise, but the shrimp, pinfish and green backs are a favorite too. Snook take a little faster action set up to set the hook and they can have an abrasive mouth and gill plate that requires 20-25lb floro even on the flats. Around structures like dock lines if they are biting well heavier leaders are recommended! 

Redfish action was a little tougher this past week, but some were able to find concentrations of fish moving along the flats. The redfish will love those slow-moving soft plastics, but they love shrimp, greenbacks, and smaller pinfish too. Lighter tackle along the flats is best and look for schools of fish moving through those shallower flats in 4 feet or less while targeting trout along the potholes, cuts, and edges. 

Near shore and offshore

Hogfish action has been steady, but nothing crazy as of late. We're hoping to get some more steady action through March and into April until the bite starts to slow as the water warms up.

This upcoming week looks windy and tough to start, but we should catch a break towards the end of the week. Hogfish are tough to target under great conditions. When its windy and bumpy, oit makes dialing in on that soft, timid, and shy hogfish bite even more difficult. However, they are biting well on the live or fresh dead shrimp from around 30-70 feet of water well. Using that 3-4ot hook with around 30lb fluorocarbon leader is best. 

We are seeing some great mangrove snapper action this past week -- especially last weekend -- around that full moon. At night, we caught some beautiful mangrove snapper. This should continue consistently for the coming weeks. We are catching 'em during the day too, but the best time to target mangroves tends to be that nighttime period.

They are biting best deeper offshore from around 120-180 feet of water. However, we are getting them around 60-90 feet well too. During the day, most of the time near shore, we get them targeting hogfish with that live shrimp set up closer to 60-80 feet or offshore targeting red grouper on cut threadfin or smaller pinfish. 

Lane snapper action continues to be steady from around 50-90 feet of water. They can be as deep as 110-120 feet, but as you get deeper you see more vermillion than lane snapper. Lanes love virtually anything from squid to threadfins to shrimp, but we catch the bigger ones it seems on those live shrimp hogfish set ups or the chunks of threadfin on the double snell rig, but for the most lanes the small strips of cut squid are great options. 

Vermillion snapper action continues to impress around that offshore water. Beyond around 100 feet, we're seeing steady vermillion action and some nice-sized ones as you work deeper past 140 feet of water. They love squid or cut threadfin chunks, but like lanes to target quantity squid is best but the bigger ones come up on those double snell rigs and threadfin chunks. 

We are starting to see some nice yellowtail snapper mixed in with the mangroves and vermillions offshore in that deeper water. The yellowtail love the same setups as the vermillion and squid. Typically, when I see them come up, a small squid strip around 2-3 inches and a quarter inch wide is my go-to. However, some of the biggest ones I have caught are by accident with larger chunks of threadfin.

If the bite is ever slow out deep, a live shrimp on lighter tackle floating slowly down on a knocker rig is a great way to hopefully get you a big 'ole yellowtail or mangrove snapper. 

Red grouper action is going well for us right around that closure line. We must continue to play this game through the month of March. Once April rolls aroundc, we're going to go deep again for those big triggerfish, scamp, mangroves, and fatter red grouper!

For now, during the deep-water closure we are forced to stay inside that 20 fathom or 120 feet closure line. These red grouper love squid strips, live pinfish, or whole threadfins with the tail cut. A great option for them is that larger dead bait that is super smelly and oily like the bonita or mullet chunks or strips.

Octopus makes a great bait too. It is one of the red grouper favorites and as we move into spring, we see more octopus around. If you ever catch one out deep, do not plan to take home for ceviche. Their tentacles are just absolute red grouper candy! 

For more fishing reports, photos, videos and more check out Hubbard’s Marina on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat. Just simply search "HubbardsMarina" and do not forget our family motto, "If you’re too busy to go fishing, you’re just too busy!"