Fishing Report: May 15, 2020

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 May 15, 2020.


Snook fishing has been great around our area this past week!

At night, around the bridges and dock lights, are best. During the day, the big girls are out on our beaches and we have plenty of smaller fish around the back bays around the flats. It was a little slow over this past weekend but as this week progressed the bite got better and better. 

We are seeing big numbers of snook congregating in our passes around the bridge lights and dock lights. Soft plastics and the flairhawk style jigs are preferred at night. During the day, soft plastics and swim baits seem to work well. Whether at night or during the day, white bait and live pig fish or grass grunts are great live baits for snook. 

More and more fish are moving into he passes and onto the beaches to stage up for their approaching summertime spawning period. 

Trout fishing has been best the past week and we're seeing them at night in huge numbers around the bridge’s lights and also around the dock lights where water is moving, and baits are present. During the day, the flats are holding plenty of trout along with mangrove shorelines and some bridges too. Soft plastics seem to be the best bet for trout fishing with artificial lures. White bait or live shrimp are the go-to live baits for trout. 

Pompano fishing has picked up quite a bit this past week. We are seeing lots of these good-eating, unique fish just around first light, around the jetties of our passes and along the beaches during the day. Fishing piers or bridges around the sandy areas also are great places to target these pompano. 

My favorite lures for these pompano are the doc’s goofy jigs or the nekid ball jigz. However, you can catch them on live shrimp or sand fleas weighted to the bottom with light tackle and minimal weight. 

Redfish action has been a little pickier this past week unless you’re up in the bay. Upper Tampa Bay has the best redfish bite around the area, but some other back bay areas are holding cooperative redfish around the oyster bars, mangrove shorelines and shallower grass flat areas. These guys love live shrimp, cut mullet, or small pinfish for bait, but if you prefer artificials, the soft plastics have worked best. 

Flounder fishing has slowed a bit this past week but there’s still some around willing to eat if you are lucky enough to come across one of these unique good-eating fish. They love those sandy areas adjacent to structures or grass flats holding shrimp or other live baits. They are right on the bottom covered in a bit of sand lying in wait to ambush passing baits. You have to work the bottom to get these guys to eat. 

Cobia fishing is picking up in the bay and along the beaches right now. We’re seeing them take free lined pinfish or artificial lures like the soft plastics. Cobia love to follow dolphins, fevers of rays, or large schools of mullet or ladyfish. They prefer to eat eels. So, long skinny eel looking soft plastics with a small weighted jig head is my favorite way to sight cast 'em. 

Dark colors for the soft plastics work well like dark green, brown or purple. I like using the bass fishing senko worms in the 6-9” range on a 1/4oz jig head to sight cast inshore cobia. 

Triple tail action is going well at the mouth of the bays, around the passes and along our beaches. These guys are hanging on or adjacent to the structure either on the surface or as deep as near the bottom. 

At night, you can sometimes even find them around residential dock lights. However, they are primarily targeted during the day on the buoys, markers or floating debris with super light tack and live shrimp for bait. 

Tarpon are here now in full force around the passes, beaches and, sometimes, even around the start of the bays. They love the smaller 3-6inch pass crabs or blue crabs, but they will also eat finger mullet, big threadfins or ladyfish. I would suggest an 8-12 inch lady fish or 4-6 inch crab for bait. 

Often you want to spot the fish and then set up ahead of them a good way away to ensure you don’t spook the fish. However, it is very tricky to know where they will be moving too. Chasing the fish and casting at them will only cause them to scatter and will make anyone fishing around you extremely angry very quickly. 

Stealthy approach is mandatory with natural presentation and lightest possible tackle key. When fishing in a pass, especially around Egmont Key you will see tons of other boats doing drifts for tarpon. You want to ensure you work into the flow of boats and do not disrupt the drift of other vessels. 

Start at the very uptide side of the boats and give the boat nearest you plenty of room and get in the line. Then once you drift out of the group motor all the way around giving as much room as possible to ensure you don’t cut anyone’s line or tangle any lines in your prop or scare the fish down to the bottom for everyone. 

Near shore

Snapper fishing has been great around our deepest near shore waters this past week. 

Around 70-100ft of water we have seen some nice mangrove snapper action and some decent vermilions and bountiful lane snapper! Occasionally you can find a yellowtail or two around this depth too but most of the time they are going to be more common much deeper offshore. 

Nighttime is always best for snapper action but even the daytime has brought some cooperation as the water warms and the snapper species begin to congregate for their summertime spawns. 

Red grouper fishing has been decent near shore from around 60-100ft of water as of late. They are even a little better offshore, but for the past few years we are seeing a good bite of red grouper near shore. These guys love octopus, cut squid or live pinfish for bait. We also have a lot of success on larger ‘plugs’ of grey snapper or white grunts or butterflied works well too. They love those potholes, hard-bottom areas, and smaller ledges. 

Hogfish action has been a little slow as of late. Now that the water is warming, and the spear-fisherman are coming out in force and the water is becoming so clear, the bite definitely slows down a bit for hook-and-line hogfish anglers. However, we are still getting a few on our 5-hour and a few more on our 10-hour trips. It’s a marked decrease from our cooler, more murky water conditions we see in the cooler months of October-April where cold fronts keep them chewing and keep the spearfishing in their boats. 

The trick right now is the lightest possible tackle around 20lb floro and 3ot hook and lightest possible leads. 

Kingfish are still around right now and we're seeing these guys from around 30-40ft up to the deepest near shore waters into offshore waters. Most of the time, we are seeing them while trolling, but still getting a few on the flat lines. However, with the clearer waters, lighter wire is key and the kingfish stinger rig would need smaller hooks to ensure they are well hidden in or on the bait. 

You can visit our website, click ‘fishing trips,’ then click ‘fishing tips and tricks’ to find a video on how to tie a kingfish stinger rig easily! 

Mackerel are thick around the near shore waters still, as well from the beach out to around 70-80ft of water. We are seeing lots of mackerel around the bait schools. 

They love smaller trolling spoons like the squid spoons in the 2-6 inch range. They will also take free lined white bait or casting lures like the gotcha plugs. Lighter tackle is key for macks too, they maybe fast but they are still smart fish. 

Tuna are slowing down near shore. We haven’t seen many if any near shore on the reports this past week near shore. Still seeing them offshore, but in shallower waters inside 100ft of water they are much less common now. 

Cobia are picking up near shore where the tuna have left off. We are seeing some nice cobia cruising around our near shore wrecks, big rock piles and other structures holding bait near shore. Often you will see them swim up to your boats when you have been fishing a spot awhile too. Great time to have that pitch rod ready and rigged with that same lure we discussed in the inshore cobia section. 


Red grouper action offshore has been decent this past weekend and week from around 100ft of water up to around 150ft of water we are seeing the nice red grouper. 

They are a little less fat than they were a few months back at the tail-end of their springtime spawn. However, we are still picking up some nice fish. 

Mangrove snapper fishing has been hot lately on our long-range fishing trips. Especially at night, we are seeing the best cooperation from our snapper species but we're still picking them through the daytime periods out in this depth range. 

Light tackle in the 30-40lb range with around 3-4oz leads and double snelled 5-6ot hooks are king right now with a plug of threadfin or sardine to catch you plenty of these great eating and fun to catch mangrove snapper. 

We are also seeing some yellowtail snapper around offshore too. They are most common a little deeper in the 140-180ft range of water and we again find them most commonly at night like the mangrove snapper. Yellowtail you can catch while fishing for mangroves with the same set up, but they really love a small strip of squid in the 2-3inch range cut around a 1/2 to ¾ inch wide. 

Vermillion snapper are also common out there with porgies and the occasional almaco jack mixed in with the mangrove snapper and yellowtails in that whole depth range. They will take either the cut squid or the threadfin plugs. 

For pelagic action, we are seeing kingfish most commonly with some nice tuna around with the occasional blackfin tuna too! Kingfish trolling was really hot over the weekend's 39-hour at Hubbard’s Marina and we caught a nice tuna while flatline fishing just before sunrise during the nighttime period. 

We often see the most flatline action on kingfish and tuna right before sunrise in those early morning hours. Trolling is primarily only during the daytime periods. Cobia can be spotted offshore as well, just like inshore and near shore, so it’s always a good idea to have that pitch rod ready. We may start to see a few mahi mahi showing up too very soon. Plus, the occasional sailfish is being caught once or twice so keep your eyes peeled offshore and be prepared for anything! 

For more information from Hubbard’s Marina, head over to their website.