May is The Month

By: Capt. Mike Manis

Without a doubt, this is one of the best times of year to be on the water.  As always, it’ll go way too fast. Bait, scaled sardines and threadfin herring move in and are scattered throughout the harbor and surrounding bays and sounds. The water temperature is warming up, isn’t too hot yet, and everything is on the feed.  Furthermore, no matter what kind of vessel you fish, access is good. There’s opportunity from the upper harbor to the beaches and all the flats in between.

For me, it’s an opportunity to get in some snook and tarpon fishing. Right now, snook are cruising up and down shorelines on both sides of the harbor, all our bays and sounds, and the beaches. My favorite spots are areas that have some deeper water just off the shoreline.

Redfish will also take advantage of the bait influx and will be scattered throughout the flats. They’ll be mixed in with the snook as well as feeding on the flats in areas with healthy turtle grass. Mullet schools are a good indicator when hunting redfish. They like sticking close as the mullet kick up all kinds of free scraps from the bottom.

The spotted sea trout bite has been consistent all winter and should remain strong through the month. Any flat in two to four feet with healthy turtle grass should fish well. In addition, keep an eye out on all the bar systems on the harbor’s perimeter for schools of jacks or a cruising cobia.

As for flies, we’re now in a summer pattern and tying baitfish patterns to resemble the scaled sardines or pilchards that have moved back inshore. We’ll keep a good collection of clousers, seaducers, and bend backs as these are always great all-around patterns.

All this being said, it’s still hard to not spend the entire month hunting tarpon.  Early in the month, resident fish coming out of the rivers group up in the deeper holes of the upper harbor. In fact, at first light, they can be seen rolling anywhere from the U.S. 41 Bridge to the holes off Pirate Harbor. Furthermore, by mid-month we should be seeing the migratory schools making their way up from the keys and everglades.  At this point, I like spending my time off the beaches. Typically, I’ll stake off with an anchor set up with an attached buoy for quick deployment. This allows me to free myself from the anchor if a fish starts pulling so much line that we have to give chase. For fly selection here, I typically like light colored baitfish patterns. A good example is the #3/0 4.5” EP Boca Grande fly in light green or yellow. If I’m not throwing a fly, I like to fish small live crabs on a spinning rod.

Until next month, good tides.