Ponce Inlet Offshore Fishing Report: May 2014

Ernie Endicott  stoked, holds a spring gaffer dolphin
Ernie Endicott stoked, holds a spring gaffer dolphin

By Capt. Jon Zeller

May is traditionally one of the angler’s favorite months for offshore pursuits. Sight fishing for cobia on light tackle from the beach, fishing the reefs for grouper or running to the gulfstream and trolling for dolphin, wahoo or billfish are the complex choices anglers face each trip out. May actually gives fishermen an option to accomplish the three choices in one day.

The bait pods and manta rays near shore should be still available after a great showing in numbers during April. Chasing cobia offers incredible sight casting opportunities. Larger cobia are often seen in or near the bait pods so proceed gradually and be ready for the “free swimming” cobia. Try casting rubber eels, jigs or a top water lure on medium spinning tackle. Tipping the artificial with a fresh live shrimp or gulp or presenting a fresh menhaden from one of the bait pods to a fish that may exceed 60 pounds.

May 1st is the official opening of grouper season and anglers can find the delicious table favorite on the intermediate reefs all the way out to the bottom offshore of the continental shelf. Live baits like pinfish, redeyes, sardines and grunts are the preferred choice for gags, red or scamp grouper waiting below. Larger chunk dead baits may also be fished on a 7-10’ 125# leader on heavy conventional gear is the best option to take grouper. Remember that the first 15-25 cranks is the decisive part of your battle with these bottom terrorists and if an angler cannot put the pressure on a fish then, the grouper could turn the table and win the fight.

Typically blue water trolling is best during this month for crews fishing temperature breaks and weedlines from 120’ out to 100 fathoms. Dolphin, wahoo and billfish can be enticed to eat by a spread of trolled skirted and naked swimming ballyhoo along with a few bigger baits such as mullet or Spanish mackerel. Light to medium tackle is recommended with a couple of larger outfits pulling heavier baits for the bigger fish including marlin, is recommended. Multiple hookups are common so prepare a cooler full of baits as the bite can turn a ordinary fishing trip into the best day of the season in a hurry.

Memorial Day Weekend, May 22-25 will include a new look for a familiar tournament. The 12th annual FishStock event presented by MarineMax and Boston Whaler, will be showcasing lots of new and enhanced activities, including competitive format changes to the offshore Striker Tournament. An addition of a new catch and release tournament: the New Smyrna Beach Billfish Open will give anglers a chance to compete for billfish this May. For more information about these exciting changes visit www.fishstock.com

Tight lines.

Capt. Jon Zeller
New Smyrna Beach
Billfish Invitational
Sport Fishing Charters
(386) 290-4181