Hogfish are biting well still near shore, but the trick right now is finding the weather to get out there to the fish. We are getting a small weather window today and then again Sunday and Monday and I would bet the BEST time to go get em will be Monday because that will give the most amount of time for the water to calm down and clear up and barometer to stabilize and it will be right ahead of the next incoming weather disturbance which will hopefully have the hogfish foaming near shore! The best area to target the hogfish is around 40-70 foot of water but you can catch them as shallow as around 30 foot and we see them fairly consistently up to around 90 foot of water. We even catch them offshore in deeper waters in excess of 120 foot but they become much more difficult to target as you get deeper on hook and line because theres often so many more aggressive fish around ready to eat your bait. This is why we seem to catch the most of them around 40-70 foot of water using around 1-2 inch pieces of live shrimp or fresh dead shrimp. Avoid using frozen shrimp or anything that’s been dead long enough to turn pink. These guys like the fresh dead shrimp or live shrimp with the most natural coloration. Lightest tackle you can muster around 30lb floro and 3-4ot hooks with lighter lead around ¾ – 1oz is best. I prefer to knocker rig for them myself, but we have tons of success using the nekid ball jigz or even jig heads for these hogfish.
We are also seeing plenty of mangrove snapper around 60-100 foot of water and around that area some really nice lane snapper numbers too. Great time to get out there and target hogfish while enjoying a nice side of mangrove snapper and lane snapper and tons of the great eating grey snapper or white grunts.
While nearshore, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for floating debris because we are seeing plenty of triple tail near shore under floating debris and crab trap buoys. The weather needs to be a little clearer to spot them easily but we should get this opportunity by the start of this coming week.
There’s some nice numbers of mackerel around just off the beach into the near shore waters right now. Plenty of big bait schools around that are making these mackerel feed aggressively and it makes it super easy to find them in cooperative aggregations.
Also, we are seeing tons of sheepshead near shore around the artificial reefs and large rock pile and ledge areas. These guys are out there in spawning aggregations so you can find some massive sheepshead by happenstance while targeting hogfish or snapper.
Don’t forget the redfish, too! These guys head offshore in huge schools to spawn off the beaches 3-50 miles. We have seen these schools as deep as 150 foot of water offshore but they are mostly spotted right on the beach up to around 15 miles. Keep in mind these are spawning aggregations so we often try to avoid them and don’t target them but occasionally you can’t avoid them. We often find that when were anchored up fishing near shore and one of these schools passes close by they will inundate our boat trying to steal all the food they can allowing us some fun catch and release fishing in the meantime but you got to make sure to hook and release them as quickly as you can not causing undue stress or harm to a fish in the process of proliferating a species that is in some trouble.