Inshore- Casey Mikus, from Michigan, reported catching some beautiful Flounder while fishing under and around the John’s Pass Bridge with dead shrimp weighted to the bottom. Randy Gozzard, from St. Petersburg, caught some beautiful Whiting while fishing from the north jetty of John’s Pass using sand fleas on the bottom. Warne Leonard, from Ontario, reported Pompano running in the mornings; he caught his with dead shrimp on the bottom. He also reported catching two beautiful Black Drum from the jetty while using shrimp again. His first Drum was 23 inches and the second one was almost as large at 22 inches.
Bob Drysdale, from Canada, caught Redfish and Sheepshead while fishing Don’s Dock using live shrimp around their pilings. Don’s Dock also reported lots of Flounder being hauled up around their docks by other anglers using shrimp weighted to the bottom. The bait is nearing shore and the increase in water temps has the Mackerel and Kingfish not far behind. There have been a few Kingfish landed from the John’s Pass Bridge already, but we were unable to capture their info or bait for our report so far.
Near shore- Our 5 and 10 hour party boat trips have been doing well on Kingfish and Mackerel. We’re catching a few while trolling out and plenty of them when using our flat lines while drifting. However, the flat lines are picking up Kings too big and too fast to turn before they spool our reels. We’ve had three or four reels completely spooled by big smoker Kings, so make sure you’re ready to chase your fish when flat-lining. Our private charter boat is more able to chase down the Kings, allowing us to land some of the larger fish; the biggest that made it home so far was a 38lb beast. The warmer water temps have the Snapper feeding well and the Hogs are still coming in frequently. Red Grouper are starting to bite better too and so are the Gags. Our last private charter landed multiple ‘endangered’ Gags and a handful of Red Grouper too.
Offshore-We haven’t had an offshore fishing trip since the 44-hour and our 12-hour in mid-March, but we have heard the Tuna and Kingfish are hot offshore. Also, team salinity landed a 7-foot Mako that weighed in at 207lbs recently 50 miles out off John’s Pass. Other area captains report the Amberjacks are feisty offshore, easily chummed to the surface chasing plugs as shallow as 70 feet. The Mangrove Snapper have turned on a bit more in the deep offshore waters reports Captain Billy Nobles.
Captain Jack’s Dolphin Corner
Ever wanted to experience Egmont Key but didn’t want to wake up early? Hubbard’s Marina now offers a 2pm ferry ride out to Egmont Key that returns at 6pm. This trip is every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; advanced reservations are a great idea the day before you plan to join us! There is even another snorkeling trip during this 2pm trip, so make sure to make a reservation today!
Water is nearing upper 70s which has allowed snorkeling to begin again. Water clarity is improving and will be best by the end of the month. The grass flats are much clearer and have been a popular spot. The sunken ruins have been awfully dirty and have had strong currents, but, again, by the end of the month conditions should allow us to resume snorkeling at the ruins.
Hubbard’s Marina is happy to report lots of Loggerhead turtles have been spotted around Egmont Key and Fort De Soto! Some Loggerhead turtles up to 5 feet long have been seen; these are monster turtles that have been around for decades.
An Osprey has nested around the pilot’s dock at Egmont Key. However, it was inadvertently hooked recently by a local angler. Our captain’s quick response and vast knowledge of local wildlife allowed him and a ranger to corral the large bird of prey and release it successfully and unharmed. Our crew has been monitoring the bird and it seems to have made a full recovery, since it was spotted hunting successfully the past few days.
The warm waters have also brought back the manatees to our area; the ferry to Egmont Key has been spotting many large herds making their return into Tampa Bay. Our dolphin-watching nature cruise and eco tour out of Hubbard’s Marina has spotted a handful inside Boca Ceiga Bay, but we haven’t seen the large herds that have been plentiful around Egmont Key.
Juvenile dolphins are still plentiful and playful in our area learning how to hunt and play socially. However, we expect newborn baby dolphins to start appearing any time now. These small baby dolphins are great fun to watch and they are usually right next to mom or dad learning how to breathe on their own.
Dog Leg Key has made a full recovery and even wood storks have made nests out there. Spoonbills, pelicans, herons and egrets are all back—with babies chirping all the time
Hubbard’s Marina has started our Shell Key trip again from our main location inside John’s Pass. This trip runs 9am till noon every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s an hour ride down through the protected back bays, an hour on the island, and a forty-five minute cruise along the beaches on the return trip while looking for dolphins! This trip is a great way to get some shells and to see some beautiful sights, all before the heat of the day kicks in. Also, shelling is quite good, since we’re usually one of the first boats to the island.
Remember, “If you’re too busy to go fishing, you’re just too busy.”