Hogfish bite has continued to impress this past week. However, it was a little more tough to get larger numbers this past week just due to the weather and small window to target them. We definitely had to work a little harder to get them to cooperate for us but were hoping with the beautiful weather we see for this upcoming week the hogfish will bite much better for us.
Lane snapper and some mangrove snapper bit pretty well around the 60-100 foot areas on the live shrimp, cut squid and also the mud minnows. My favorite method for snapper near shore and offshore is the double snell rig with a chunk of threadfin, sardine or cigar minnow on the hooks either rigged knocker rig style or on a fish finder set up. Snapper are quick biting fish so lighter more sensitive tackle is important similar to what you want for hogfish. However, they feed more aggressively so when the bite is going well I like to use conventional set ups so I can get down to the bottom quickly and get back up to the boat quickly to catch more of these fish during the hot bite. Then if the bite slows down, that’s when I will break out the spinning rod, I would use for hogfish to target these snapper with a knocker rig or jig head set up and lighter tackle.
Red grouper bite has been tougher lately near shore, but the deeper you go the better your chances right now for a few keeper red grouper while your fishing in near shore waters inside 20 miles from shore. Live pinfish, squid strips, or whole threadfins are a great option for red grouper. My favorite bait though is a lizard fish or squirrel fish butterflied on 60lb leader and 7ot hook.
Mackerel are really getting thick near shore especially where the water isn’t so murky between fronts. We are seeing big numbers of these guys from just off the beaches all the way throughout the shallower near shore waters. Trolling spoons or plugs around 20-60ft of water will get you plenty of mackerel around any structures that hold bait especially the artificial reefs.
Kingfish are starting to show up with the mackerel but its still very early and there isn’t huge numbers of these guys yet. Plus, most that are being seen are much smaller schoolie sized fish. However, there has been one or two larger kingfish caught already near shore in our area but most of the larger fish are still offshore.
Sheepshead, flounder and redfish are all spawning this time of year so you can occasionally run into huge numbers of these inshore fish offshore. Redfish are easiest to spot since often their large schools will be cruising up on top of the water. While sheepshead and flounder travel in large groups too they hug the bottom around the near shore artificial reefs and large relief areas like bit rock piles or ledges. Sheepshead will be right on or just above the structure while flounder will hang off to the side in the sandy area waiting to ambush prey items moving to and from the structure.