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. The east side is good from Alligator Creek all the way down to the Matlacha Bridge. The west wall has good numbers from Cattle Dock to Cape Haze Point. Going west, shoreline points, cuts, and creek edges between Cape Haze and Cayo Pelau at the base of Gasparilla Sound can be good.

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, providing the run that makes Boca Grande the tarpon fishing capital of the world. At this point, I like spending my time off the beach. I’ll look between Boca Grande and Captiva Pass.

My favorite spot is off Murdock Point just south of Boca Grande Pass. Here, on a good day, I like to 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. If I’m not throwing a fly, I like to fish small live crabs on a spinning rod. Some days, if the fish are harder to find, I’ll set up a controlled drift with the trolling motor to cover more ground.

Redfish will also take advantage of the bait influx and will be scattered throughout the flats. In particular, I like flats adjacent to the intracoastal in both Lemon Bay and Pine Island Sound. In Lemon Bay, keep an eye around Stump Pass; in Pine Island Sound, the northern end around Useppa can really fish well.

Until next month, good tides.

Captain Michael Manis is a U.S.G.C. Licensed captain and has been teaching the sport of fly and light tackle angling since 2002. He lives in Punta Gorda, Florida and can be reached at