Weather effects on fishing-
We have a new moon this weekend with a little bit of confused weather around but lots of moving water. Then through the upcoming work week a steadier weather pattern and moderate winds prevail throughout the week. We should see the fishing steady throughout this period due to that new moon keeping the action during the not so favorable weather; while the suitable weather assisting the slower tides which should continue to produce fish.
Snook are still pretty active around the area, while this past week was a little bit tougher to find good numbers of fish since they have really spread out into the bay from their back country wintertime hide outs. They are really staging up for their move into the passes and onto the beaches but a large number of fish are spread throughout the bays right now following bait. It’s really important to look for those choke points and areas that are holding live bait to find those feeding and ready to cooperate snook who are more willing to actively feed in the presence of bait and moving water that brings the bait to them.
Redfish action is still going well but they are starting to move into that time of year where they are more focused on following schools of mullet around the flats and oyster bars and mangrove islands to look for crustaceans that can be spooked out of the grass by foraging mullet schools. Look for the mullet to find the redfish right now. Through some cut bait out in the school of mullet to target these fish. Or you can work the edges with those soft plastics, mirror lures or in low light the top water lures too.
Trout action has been going really well around the area even when other fish are not so likely to feed. They are still hanging on to those deep-water flats around 3-6ft of water and on the edges and cuts of shallower water grass flats. Look for trout using the soft plastics and slower moving baits. Once you find one, there’s often more in that general depth and area.
Pompano are very active along our beaches, beach fishing piers, and around the passes and channels of the area. Look for them on or near the bottom cruising for the crustaceans like sandfleas, fiddler crabs or live shrimp. Most will use live shrimp for the pompano or the pompano jigs. Especially along the beaches these are great and easy ways to go. However, they do love their sand fleas and you can get a sand flea rake and often find good numbers of these weird looking critters along the shoreline at most beaches. Taking some of those live and hooking them up and fishing that little swash channel between sandbars that runs parallel to the beach is a great way to target pompano.
Sheepshead are still biting around local bridges, docks, piers, and jetties. We are still seeing pretty decent numbers being caught on the same methods that have worked through the cooler months, but we are seeing those mangrove snapper fill in more and more in these areas as waters warm up.
We have seen quite a few black drum caught around local docks, piers, and bridges lately too from the back bay, to canals and even around the passes. Great time to get out there with some live or even fresh dead shrimp or small to medium crabs. These guys love crustaceans right on the bottom around these structures throughout our area.
Near shore –
Red grouper action near shore remains a bit spotty until you can get to the deepest parts of our near shore waters. Once you get closer to the 100ft edge of the deepest near shore waters you start to get a better and better chance at finding decent concentrations of larger keeper sized and beyond red grouper. We are doing well finding a few here, few there and sticking and moving through the day on our ten-hour all-day trips and longer private charters aboard the HUB and the shorter Flying HUB 2 private charters that all tend to stay in this deeper near shore water area. We are catching them most on the whole threadfin, longer strips of squid and the live pinfish. Using 40-60lb leaders and 5-6ot hooks with a 4oz lead to target the near shore red grouper. Often lately we are fishing more potholes, smaller ledges, and that flat hard bottom area.
Hogfish action is still happening but has seriously slowed down. We are fishing deeper more often now that we were when the hogfish bite was hot and that definitely handicaps our ten hour all days from catching big numbers like we were, but we are also not targeting them as heavily due to the slow down and the fact that many are full of eggs right now spawning. We are still seeing them bite on our five-hour half day and those near shore private fishing charters aboard the HUB and Flying HUB 2 but we aren’t seeing the crazy numbers like we do in the cooler months when the hogfish bite is on fire Mid-October through around early April depending on the weather. Once waters cool and has cleared somewhat between fronts the hogfish bite is best in those cooler times. However, we do get them throughout the summer and into the early fall just not in big numbers. I would still recommend fishing that style of fishing though while fishing anywhere from 30-80ft of water with the lighter spinning reel around 4000 series, medium action rod and around 20-30lb braid to a 15-20ft piece of 30lb mono with a 1-2oz egg sinker and a 3-4ot hook with a piece of small squid or live shrimp. This is a great method for lanes, mangroves, bigger grey snapper, and seabass too. Plus, you also occasionally see the grouper bite too!
Mangroves are fired up near shore as well as the lane snapper which are really adding to any near shore trip when fishing around 60-100ft of water. We are seeing good catches of these guys off ledges, potholes, rock piles and any structure in that depth range. The cut threadfin and double snell rig toned down for near shore is best with 30-40lb leader and 4ot hooks and a smaller chunk of threadfin. We also see them come up on knocker rig hogfish style set ups too with live shrimp.
Finally, the mackerel and kingfish cannot be forgotten about. We are still seeing swarms of the mackerel from the beach out to around eighty feet of water. Plus, plentiful kingfish action throughout the near shore and offshore waters. However, the kingfish are definitely more spread out and pickier and a bit more day to day compared to the more dependable and prolific mackerel. We are seeing most of our fish near shore getting caught while trolling the planners and spoons, while the kingfish prefer the bigger spoons like the drone spoons.
The offshore bite has been really good to us this past week! We finally had a little weather window to allow us to run offshore deep for some deep-water fun. We had a 12 hour extreme trip this past Wednesday that crushed it, we had a 12 hour slow pitch jigging or SPJ special trip this past Tuesday that knocked it out of the park, plus a 39 hour this past weekend that did really well despite some bumpier conditions.
The 39 hour trip this past weekend faced some serious weather conditions but the fish were ready to eat. It had been too long since we were able to get out there and the mangroves were hungry and ready to go. They fired off well throughout the first night of fishing and bit consistently through the day using threadfin chunks and double snell rigs. Some bigger mangroves came up on the live pinfish too. We had some nice yellowtail snapper action too on cut threads and the squid. Plus, the big vermillions and porgies were always there too along with the other variety of snapper species. Triggerfish were cooperative and random along the way as well. We mostly see triggerfish during the day, but we do see them at night too. The red grouper bite was tougher on this trip for us while we did manage a few really nice quality fish during the day it was a grind and they made us work for it bouncing between many different spots. Kingfish were around and we caught quite a few nice ones while trolling and flat line fishing. The blackfin tuna were around and visible at the surface but no one was really going after them and more focused on the great mangrove snapper action going on at the bottom.
The Tuesday slow pitch jigging trip slayed the red grouper with nearly a boat limit of twenty-six keeper red grouper but were just about three shy. Plus, we had monster triggerfish and were only two away from a boat limit on the triggerfish too. The mangrove snapper, vermillions and scamp were not as plentiful on this trip, but we did manage a half dozen decent scamp, big mangrove or two, and a few vermillions. We battled some bigger seas during the morning and high currents and winds throughout the day which made the drift style of fishing typically done while slow pitch jig fishing difficult. The drift was fast, you didn’t get much bottom time, and it took some serious technique to keep contact with the bottom and get that chance for a hookup. We did manage some monster keeper sized gag grouper and trophy sized red snapper too, but both of these species were vented and or descended quickly as they are out of season. Due to currents and the quick drift because of winds and currents, we did have to use heavier jigs and do a lot of dropping down and then reeling in and resetting which I feel affected our ability to be more successful with the mangroves, scamp, and others like we did on our first few of the specialized SPJ (slow pitch jig) fishing trips. We have another all slow pitch trip scheduled for May 24th and we plan to hold quite a few more this fall and winter on the backside of this red snapper season. Perhaps even a 39 hour version besides just the 12 hour versions we have been doing!
The Wednesday 12 hour extreme trip had beautiful weather and picture perfect conditions that allowed us to run super far and long for some truly awesome fishing opportunities for big red grouper, mangroves, scamp, and triggerfish. Plus, we had some big porgies and vermillions too! This trip was a massacre with big piles of fish upon the boat’s return. They had optimal conditions that allowed us to really dial in and land a solid catch. The Red grouper were loving the whole threadfin with the tail cut and live pinfish. While mangroves, scamp, vermillions and the triggerfish were more often caught on the cut threadfin chunks and double snell rig.
REMEMBER, when fishing deeper near shore of especially offshore the Descend Act is in effect so when in federal waters you must have a descending device or venting tool ‘rigged and ready’ so be prepared with that venting tool if you know exactly where to vent the fish, but if you don’t here’s some helpful tips – https://bit.ly/3L5HTnv Plus, keep in mind using a descending device is super easy and doesn’t take much practice or as much precision as venting does, and right now you can get over $100 in FREE DESCENDING DEVICE GEAR by visiting this link and taking a short course on barotrauma mitigation techniques that will help more fish survive! The course is only about 10-15 minutes, and it will really help you preserve, protect and proliferate our offshore fishery so spread the word -> https://returnemright.org/