Excerpt from Captain Dylan Hubbard’s Fishing Report: Sept. 17, 2021

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Offshore

Amberjack are still open until the end of October, but we have seen a decline in the number of jacks we are seeing out there on the water. However, now that red grouper are closed, that will give us a shot to go hunt those jacks down even more. Plus, while fishing deeper for jacks, we are seeing big porgies, vermillions, yellowtail, scamp, mangroves, almacos, and others too!

Amberjack (Credit: Hubbard’s Marina)

Scamp grouper hunt is on right now as we have time to focus on these great eating fish. Our Flying HUB 2 private fishing charter yesterday landed 15 keepers for seven anglers with a great start to the hunt. We see these bigger scamp groupers right around 120 feet of water or more. The closer you get to around 200 feet, the bigger they get. We look forward to dialing in on these guys more through the fall until the gag bite picks up heavily for us with cooling waters.

Mangrove snapper action has been steady, and we typically see a good overall size of goozers this time of year as well. Typically, we find the mangroves feeding well on big ledges, peaks, rock piles, or any good structures offshore. They will typically be down towards the bottom but will come up in the water column as we fish a spot, or you can chum them up too.

We catch them best using the double snell rig 5-6ot hooks and around 40-50lb test and a chunk of threadfin or sardine. We will brine our baits on long duration trips to preserve the bait and get the outside more tough while the inside gets oilier and funkier for the mangroves. Hooking the bait can get trickier on a double snell rig so we highly recommend checking out the videos on our fishing tips and tricks page where we go over how to tie this rig, how to hook the bait, how to brine the bait and much more! Here’s the link to our fishing tips and tricks page.

Yellowtail snapper action has picked up lately too and we hope to stay on these guys. They typically love a small squid strip about 2 inches long and about a ¼ wide with no more than about a ¼ inch in height. We will use this style bait on around a 40lb porgy rig or high low rig and have great success on the yellowtail when they are ready to cooperate. Sometimes catching two at a time.

Plus, this is a great set up for plentiful big vermillion snapper and porgies while fishing deeper water too. However, you typically won’t see the scamp or the mangrove snapper bite this type of set up as they are more leader shy and smart. While you can get a chance for everything using the double snell rig on a fish finder rig set up, you sacrifice the second hook.

DON’T BE A FOOL, bring a venting tool and descending device.

Keep in mind the importance of dead discards and discard mortality when engaged in near shore or offshore fishing. How many do you know right now that are all for catching and releasing snook, redfish, and trout but will be the first in line to kill a mangrove snapper, gag grouper, or red snapper? But the attitude completely changes when discussing these offshore species?

Plus, the same person inshore that will hold their breath and wet their hands before handling a breeder snook will go offshore and then cull through 20 red snapper before keeping their two red snapper they deem large enough to fill their two-fish bag limits. Meanwhile, the other 18 they released will often end up suffering fatal damage if not properly descended or vented?

Please help us to spread the word on the importance of descending or venting your released fish. Descending devices are most easy to use and quick to pick up on their use. They are most effective for most anglers.

However, an expert and precise angler with proper training and tons of experience can use a venting tool properly with similar outcomes. A venting tool requires you to pierce the fish while most descending devices are much less invasive. While using a venting tool, it is imperative you pierce them in the exact right spot, and you do not go but a quarter-inch or less in the fish. Most venting tools require you to ‘choke up’ on the tool to prevent over-penetration into major organs.

When fishing deep water, especially in the hot summer months, please make sure to treat all fish intended to be released like that breeder snook inshore and minimize the time it takes you to get him from the bottom to the boat using heavier proper tackle, not an ultra-light spinning reel.

Then once onboard, minimize the time out of the water. Then use a proper de-hooking tool and then, for the love of God, use a descending device or venting tool PROPERLY to ensure that fish has a chance to live another day.

Three things will help ensure the survivability of those fish released offshore:

  • Making sure they are brought up quickly and do not expend all their energy in the fight.
  • Make sure they are unhooked smoothly, easily, and as quickly as possible.
  • Finally, make sure they spend the least amount of time at the surface at negative pressures where barotrauma exponentially increases its effect with each passing second.

Also, keep in mind when the water is warm, there is less dissolved oxygen content and the chances of barotrauma increase even more while its effects can be even more deadly.

LINK: Here’s all the information and more on barotrauma and how to mitigate that fatal damage to your future offshore catch 

**Note: I recommend the Salt Strong articles at the bottom of the page under ‘webpages.’ I helped them develop those personally.

STATE SURVEY to improve recreational data and access

It is imperative that you have your Gulf Reef Fish survey endorsement on your fishing license.

You should get one if you are a private recreational angler or diver fishing from a private boat anywhere in Florida who intends to harvest, attempt to harvest or possess one or more of the following reef fish species: mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, hogfish, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, Gag grouper, Red grouper, Scamp grouper, Mangrove snapper, Lane snapper, Kingfish, Tuna, or Mahi mahi.

Here is all the information and more on that program and how you can sign up.

TERMS OF REFERENCE:

INSHORE – from the back bays out to the bridges and including right on the beaches

NEAR SHORE – From the beaches out to 20 miles, or up to 100ft of water

OFFSHORE – from 20 miles or 100ft and beyond

For more fishing reports, photos, videos and more check out Hubbard’s Marina on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat. Just simply search “HubbardsMarina” and do not forget our family motto, “If you’re too busy to go fishing, you’re just too busy!