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 November 8, 2019.
The snook bite was good again this past week, but we did see a decrease in the size of the snook hanging around the jetties, bridges and passes. Most of the larger snook seem to be cruising further back into the bays. The biggest snook caught around our area were around the residential canals and further back in the bays, intercostal and around the mouth of the bayous and rivers.
The best artificial baits this week around our area was the smaller paddle tail artificials and the DOA terror eyes. The best color seemed to be white to get the fish ready to eat. However, the flair hawks are always a go to for many local snook fishermen who did well on the snook and grouper with those unique jigs. Snook love the pigfish too, but big live shrimp will work too.
Redfish bite was going well this past week as well -- not quite as active as the snook -- but many were caught. They are like snook in the fact that this time of year they start moving back into the bays, bayous, canals and river mouths to hide from the weather that comes in with the cold fronts.
Many of the redfish were caught on the flats, mangrove shorelines, oyster bars and residential canal docks this past week. This is a great time of year for wade fishing the flats for redfish. As the winter progresses and waters get cooler, they get shallower and slower-moving. The tides get bigger with lower tides than normal making wade fishing access easier.
Trout bite is hot as the waters cool. They really are fired up from the passes to the bridges to the flats to the canals and everywhere in between. I love to target them at night around the residential dock lights or bridge lights in the passes. However, during the day, the grass flats and docks produce plenty of speckled trout too.
My favorite bait is always the DOA shrimp, live shrimp or greenback for the trout bite. The edges of the flats or potholes is a great place to spot the bigger fish. Also, typically trout are aggregated in an area. So, if you find one there’s typically a few more in the same general vicinity.
Sheepshead bite is picking up around the area now too. As the waters continue to cool, the sheepshead will pick up more and more around the bridges, jetties, piers, docks and other structure that holds the barnacles, oysters and crabs they are looking to eat. These guys are fun to catch, great to eat, but hard to clean as they are fairly boney and their bones are very tough to cut through.
However, some lighter 20lb floro leader and a 2ot hook with a small piece of shrimp, fiddler crab, cut oyster or clam is a great way to target them. It’s very similar to hogfish tactics near shore. You want the least amount of tackle and least amount of weight possible. You want to fish as close to where they are feeding as possible. They feed right on the pilings or rocks or seawalls so you want your bait right in that area to get that bite. They have a harder mouth so the hookset can be challenging but lots of fun.
Flounder bite is starting to pick up, but still pretty slowly overall through the area. However, the sandy pockets of the flats, sandy dropoffs in the passes and around the sandy areas adjacent to structure will start holding these great eating bottom dwellers more and more. They love to ambush passing bait as it crawls along the bottom so the trick is ‘popping’ the lure just along the bottom, creating little puffs of sand to attract their attention, or using bare minimal weight to get your shrimp, greenback or mud minnow down to the bottom.
Definitely, the best live bait around for big flounder is that unique ‘mud minnow.’ They are similar in shape to a snook but have vertical black lines like a sheepshead and can be found in the back bays on the muddy shorelines like the estuaries or inland islands.
Mangrove snapper are still around the piers, docks, bridges, and rock piles inside and around Tampa Bay. These guys are going to get less and less aggressive and aggregated as our waters cool. So, make sure to take advantage of the bite while it’s going on.
On the flipside, the gag grouper bite is going very well around the bay and inside the passes on the rocks, bridges, docks and especially the skyway fishing piers. These guys move in shallow as our waters cool and they are definitely in the bay with some force. We are seeing guys catching them on the live pinfish or using the flair hawk jigs around the bridges, docks and fishing piers.
These inshore shallow water gags are aggressive feeders and hard fighters and can be a challenge to get out of the rocks before they bust your leader in the structure.
Cobia are on the beaches, in the passes and all around the bay moving between the bridges, markers and other structures holding the bait. These guys are mainly sight-fished from tower boats or happened upon by lucky anglers targeting the triple tail or other fish around the flats or markers.
Keep your pitch rod ready with an eel style artificial or a bare hook to tail hook a pinfish on if you see one of these great eating-fish swim past. The flair hawk jigs work for the cobia too, but you have to overcast them quite a bit to ensure you don’t spook them with the heavily-weighted jig head. I love a ½ or even ¼ ounce jig head with a plastic dark colored bass worm rigged on it for the cobia sight casting.
Triple tail are all over the bay, beaches, on the markers, buoy, bridges and floating debris. It’s a great time to go get out there and cruise the bay looking for these guys and cobia up on the surface. Triple tail love live shrimp on lighter tackle casted right near the structure or debris they are sitting under, however, like the cobia make sure not to spook them while presenting them your bait.
Cobia caught inshore (Captain Dylan Hubbard)
Hogfish bite is going very well for us near shore right now from around 30 to 70 feet of water on the live shrimp. We are finding them consistently on our 10-hour all days and the 5-hour half days. However, the private charter trips are able to dial in on them even better when the guests want to get after them and don’t mind fishing down a spot to wait for the hogfish light to turn on.
They are often tricky to target with hook and line, as they are timid, smart and leader-shy. However, if you are able to feed all the other more aggressive fish or thin them out a bit as the bite slows down, the hogfish bite will pick up quickly for a short time allowing you a chance to capitalize on a few of these awesome eating and unique looking fish.
The less tackle you have in the water and the lightest weight possible helps you to have a more natural presentation and seems to help make you more successful while targeting these fish. They love live shrimp, fiddler crabs, sandfleas and rock shrimp but the most common bait for them is definitely the live shrimp.
Mangrove snapper bite near shore is going well around 60 and 100 feet of water. We are seeing some nice mangrove snapper on our 10-hour all days and even occasionally shallower on the 5-hour half days. We pick up a few nice fat mangroves while targeting the hogfish on live shrimp. However, my favorite method for the mangrove bite to go crazy is the fish finder rig with a double snell set up and a threadfin or sardine plug. If you brine up the bait and get some good oils going on in the bait plugs, it really helps the mangrove snapper and other snapper species get excited and ready to chew on the bottom.
Lane snapper have been biting very well, even a little better than the mangrove snapper from as shallow as around 50 feet up to 100 feet -- and beyond. The lane snapper love the similar bait and tactics as the mangrove snapper but they will also take pieces of squid and are a little less picky and much less leader shy.
Typically, when you get on the lane snapper there are mangroves down there too, but they just are a little smarter and require a more natural presentation to get them to cooperate.
We have had tons of mackerel around the near shore water from the beaches out to around 60 to 70 feet of water. Some large mackerel have been caught recently on the flat lines and trolling gear during our ride out and back on our 5-hour half days and private fishing charters at Hubbard’s Marina. They love the simple plugs trolled 12 to 18 feet behind number one or two planners with around 60-pound test between the two.
Mackerel caught inshore
Kingfish have been spotty but they are around the near shore waters. We are hoping to still see that bigger push of kingfish like we see each fall and spring, but the huge numbers of kings near shore in aggressive fashion has yet to occur this ‘fall’ mainly due to the lack of cold front action to cool down our near shore waters to where the kingfish like it.
We are seeing them out deeper where surface temperatures have been a little cooler and Gulf currents are more conducive, but were hoping to see them get thicker near shore too.
This past weekend was one of the best 39-hour trips of 2019 so far. The gag grouper bite was off the chain, according to our first mate, Will McClure, and the mangrove snapper bite was hot as well. Plus, we saw the kingfish, tuna and some other pelagic action out there in deeper waters too.
The fronts have the gags very active and aggressive as the waters cool down and the pressures change. We are doing very well from around 120 to 180 feet of water. In that depth, the mangrove snapper have been large and consistent.
For gag grouper, the best bait has been the threadfins, pinfish or pigfish on the bottom with 60 to 100-pound test leader and 7-10ot hooks. However, this past weekend we found the bonita strips were a great dead bait option to get the big gags excited on the bottom. Essentially, the bigger the bait the bigger the fish so you want to also step up the size of your leader, hook and reel if you are dropping down a bigger live or dead bait for those aggressive, hard-fighting gag grouper.
The mangrove snapper always love the threadfin or sardine plugs near shore and offshore. The best method, like near shore fishing, are those double snell rigs with around 6ot double circles hidden in a single chunk of meat. I highly recommend you brine up your precut pieces of dead bait to get them extra oily and smelly with added rigidity to ensure your bait isn’t mushy and easily picked off your hooks at the first nibble.
There’s been some big vermillion and even a few lane snapper out there, mixed in with the mangrove snapper, and it’s been great bottom-fishing lately when the weather allows us to get out there to the fish.
We are looking forward to a great weekend of fishing on our light load 44-hour that is heading offshore as you read this report. Check into our Hubbard’s Marina Facebook page or YouTube page Sunday morning to see the video showing off their catch with a full fishing update from this special 44-hour full moon long-range overnight fishing trip.
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Red grouper caught offshore