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 May 29, 2020.
The full moon is coming up next weekend, and the bite should be hot this week especially towards the second half of the week after the blow from the strong high pressure sets in our area around Tuesday.
Thursday right now looks like the most epic day for inshore fishing, two days prior to the moon, right behind the blow. A full moon means more dramatic tides and more bait flushing and more opportunities for predatory fish like snook, redfish, trout, tarpon and more to be feeding actively.
Snook action is HOT around the area right now. This is definitely the marquee fish of our inshore report this past week. These guys are really active right now around the entire area. However, in the passes we are seeing tons of fish staging at night around the docks, piers, bridges and jetties. During the day, all those fish move onto the beaches and through the passes.
We are also seeing tons of snook still up and around the bays on the flats, mangrove shorelines and docks. This upcoming full moon should trigger the first run of their spawn and they should be even more prolific and cooperative this coming week. However, they are still catch-and-release only until end of May 2021 with the redfish and trout. Plus, they are spawning right now, so if you plan to target these guys, please do your best to keep them in the water as much as you can and release them carefully as to ensure their survivability as best you can.
Especially with larger breeder fish, these big girls cannot survive being hauled up the rocks, thrashed around on the concrete or held up without supporting their body weight.
Trout are still biting well throughout the area as well. Look for these guys around the deeper holes, cuts, and edges of the flats or channel. They love those soft plastics moving slower, live shrimp or greenbacks, and also in the early morning or at dusk the top water smaller plugs.
Redfish action is steady, not quite like the snook and trout, but in upper Tampa Bay it’s at its best. We are still seeing them around the rest of the area, but the concentration of fish still seems to be best in the mid to upper bay. The passes have some fish around the structures like docks, bridges, and jetties especially on the high incoming tides. The flats, mangrove shorelines and oyster bars of the bay have larger numbers and bigger concentrations of fish hunting together in large schools. They are typically holding in shallower water around 2-3ft so a higher tide up on the flats is a great place to target these redfish. Cut threadfins, live green backs, small pinfish and soft plastic lures are all great options for hungry redfish.
Mangrove snapper are back in force in our area. These guys are primarily on the structures like docks, piers, bridges, jetties, and rock piles of the bay.
Slower tides are best to target mangroves where you can utilize light tackle, minimum weight, and small chunks of greenbacks, shrimp, or sardines to float down to these piranha-like feeders. They bite quickly and you can chum up a cloud of these fish to the surface for tons of fun. Around 15-20lb test and a 1-2ot hook work well for these guys depending on their size and the size of the bait you are using. However, we are seeing the average size of the mangroves go up quite dramatically as the summertime progresses into our area.
Mackerel are thick around the mouth of the bay, along the outer grass flats, and along our beaches especially around the piers and areas holding lots of bait. These guys are thick around the skyway, fort de Soto and almost any mouth of local passes. Fast moving flashy lures or free lined white bait are great ways to target these fun to catch and fast-moving fish.
Tarpon are really biting well in our area and this upcoming weekend’s full moon should bring another big flush of crabs to the mouth of the passes and Tampa Bay around Egmont Key which should have the tarpon going nuts and feeding well.
Early morning is best to find them leaving the passes and moving onto the beaches early in the daytime. However, these guys are smart and spooky fish and you really have to set up ahead of the fish to have a shot at hooking up. You cannot chase the fish or motor near them, or they will not feed, or worse, they will scatter.
Pompano are biting really well around our local passes and sandy cuts. Skyway approaches Fort De Soto, Blinds Pass, Pass-A-Grill, Clearwater Pass and Honeymoon Island are all hotspots for these guys. There’s quite a few being caught around John's Pass as well, but you have to have the right lures and be lucky with the right timing to be successful on these fish.
They move around quite a bit and one day they will be thick in one pass and the next day they move one, two or three passes to the north or south. They are always biting best around the first few hours of sunlight and around the last few hours. The doc’s goofy jig, nekid ball jigz or the pompano jigs are best to fool these good eating fish into feeding. Look for sandy bottom and work your lure along the bottom bouncing it only 4-8 inches off the bottom as you slow retrieve the slack.
Flounder still around the area, mostly being caught around the seawalls and docks and edges of the flats where water is pushing unsuspecting baits into their ambush zone right on the sandy bottom areas adjacent to structure or flats. They are fun to catch and good eating, but tricky to find high concentrations.
Mangrove snapper action is going well in the near shore waters too, but the action is definitely a bit deeper closer to around 60-100ft is where we're seeing the most prolific concentrations of mangrove snapper.
Near shore, they can be a little more leader shy and sometimes tougher to get going in large numbers, but lighter tackle in the 20-30lb leader and 3-4ot hook with minimal weight is best. Many guys will even use jig heads or light knocker rigs to get these guys going near shore with small pieces of shrimp, white bait or sardines just like inshore mangrove snapper fishing but we just step up the size of bait and hook size to accommodate hopefully larger 2-4lb fish.
You have to really pay attention well, but if your able to catch a few of these quick-biting fish often you can create a mini feeding frenzy and get quite a few of these good eating fish.
Lane snapper, like the mangroves, are biting well in about the same depth range, we are seeing these guys take similar baits and techniques as the mangrove snapper too. Look for them around the same areas like ledges, rock piles and swiss cheese bottom if there’s good bait shows to hold the snapper feeding well.
Red grouper bite is going well in the deepest near shore waters around 70-100 feet of water. We are seeing some nice cooperative red grouper in decent concentrations. This isn’t the all-out red grouper we saw a few years back but compared to the past 2-4 years it’s a really good push of fish.
Squid strips, octopus and live pinfish are all great options to get a red grouper to chew. Around 40-60lb test and about a 6-7ot hook depending on your bait size are great options to target these hungry grouper. Look for the red grouper on potholes, smaller ledges, and that good hard, flat bottom.
Drift fishing often works well to target these red grouper if you can find large enough areas of hard bottom to work. These grouper tend to scour the hard-bottom areas foraging during the day across those areas for anything they can make a meal out of.
This is why drift fishing will work so well for red grouper because you're able to show your baits to more fish and generally be more successful. Once we get deeper, this doesn’t work so well but around 70-100ft of water if the weather is good and tide isn’t going to strongly you can drift between .7-1.5 kts for a really good chance at good numbers of red grouper.
If you are drifting slower or faster than that range it makes it much more difficult and you may want to rethink just anchor fishing or trying for snapper instead.
Hogfish action hasn’t been the best, but we are still catching a handful here and there on our near shore private fishing charters and the 5 or 10-hour party boat fishing trips. Now that the water is much clearer and warmer, the hogfish are more leader shy and tricky. Plus, the increase in snapper action makes it even tougher to get a bait down to the hogfish. Often your live shrimp is going to be taken by a more aggressive snapper, grunt or porgy well before you get a shot at presenting that bait to a hogfish this time of year.
However, around 30-60ft we are still catching a few but you definitely got to work a little harder and be a little more patient with them this time of year. Lighter tackle is key as well, we are now using as light as 20lb leader to target the hogfish.
Kingfish are still around near shore, but they are starting to thin out quite a bit. We got lucky with a few nice ones this past week in around 50-100ft of water on the flat lines and trolling out on our 39-hour trips. However, as the water warms these fish will move more and more offshore or out of the area.
Mackerel are thick near shore along the beaches if you can find areas where the bait is congregated. We are seeing them as deep as around 70ft of water near shore as well. Typically, you can find them trolling a smaller spoon behind a number one to two planner around these bait schools.
Cobia are still active near shore, but they are a very spooky and easily missed fish if you aren’t ready for them when they happened to appear next to your boat. Make sure you have that pitch rod ready and keep your eyes peeled while bottom fishing near shore for a shot at hooking up to one of these fish.
Mahi mahi are around once again for the summertime! We came across a massive school of them recently on our private charter trip and then again this past week on the ten-hour all-day. We will have these guys around the area throughout the summer time from the deeper near shore waters to throughout the offshore waters. Even more reason to have a pitch rod ready if a school of mahi swim by your boat!
Red grouper fishing is going pretty well offshore right now just past 100 feet of water up to around 160 feet of water. We are seeing these fish bite squid strips, octopus, and live pinfish like the near shore red grouper but we tend to use a little larger bait and larger tackle offshore like 60-80lb test and around 7-8ot hooks. Potholes are a red groupers best friend offshore, but that flat, hard swiss cheese with a bait show is a summer time red grouper mecca.
Mangrove snapper action is going well offshore too. They are really getting aggressive in larger concentrations nearly all over the offshore area but from 100-180ft of water is a good starting point. Threadfin or sardine plug on a double snell rig with 5-6ot hooks is your best friend while mangrove snapper fishing.
With the gag grouper opening back up, we will step up our leader size while mangrove fishing in case we get lucky and hook into a gag you want a fighting chance of landing that fish so instead of the 30-40lb test we were using around 50-60lb is where we will work up too to start. However, if the bite isn’t going well or you can’t get the mangroves to eat you may have to bump that leader size back down if needed.
Amberjack are open until end of May, then they close for two months before reopening in August for another short three-month season. In 2020, we have May, then August through October to hunt and keep these amberjack offshore. They have been a little tricky this may with the larger keeper-sized fish really spread out and difficult to get in good concentrations. However, we have gotten a few nice fish after sorting through lots of 30-33 inch fish.
Red snapper season is starting this upcoming week on the federally-permitted for hire charter and party boats in the Gulf of Mexico and about two weeks away for the private recreational angler! Keep in mind, private recreational anglers on private boats get June 11th until July 12th to land their red snapper off the west coast of Florida.
These guys will bite just about anything, but we use around 60lb test and 6-7ot hooks to start with live pinfish, squid strips or bonita strips for the red snapper baits. They will even take vertical jigs too!
Gag grouper opens up for everyone June 1, but they bite best is in the October-December range. Luckily, these fish are open until the end of the year. We will hunt for them in the summertime but they are going to be found in the largest size and biggest concentrations out deep while the water is hot. We hunt those red snapper and gag grouper from around 150-250ft of water most of the summer, but the big boys are even up to 300-350ft of water!
Kingfish are out there in the offshore waters in decent numbers still. We are seeing them on the flat lines, troll and even sometimes knocker rigging for snapper. Cobia are also occasionally cruising by offshore as well. Tuna can be caught occasionally, but not as commonly as cooler months. However, mahi are starting to show up and were excited for a summer full of chances to spot these big schools of chicken dolphin and maybe the occasional bull or two.