The dry, temperate winter we experienced in East Central Florida has me hopeful for the fishing in May and possibly for the beginning of the recovery of the seagrass beds in the Indian River Lagoon long term. The dry weather will concentrate snook and tarpon in areas with fresh water inputs, such as the Sebastian River, small creeks, canals and culverts. The low, clear waters of the lagoon caused by a lack of rain, if it persists through the summer, will allow good light penetration to the lagoon bottom which may spark some regrowth of the grass beds. This has happened in the past, so please, nobody do a rain dance and don’t complain about your lawn being brown, it is for the best.
Late spring is “the season” for the Sebastian River and many of the other freshwater feeders that flow into the Indian River Lagoon. Tarpon and snook of all sizes are at their highest concentrations of the season and they are eager to feed on the variety of baitfish that take up residence in the Sebastian River. Seven- to ten-inch mullet are the most obvious of these baitfish species and are the preferred choice of the larger snook and tarpon in the river. Large topwater and shallow diving plugs are excellent choices after dark around lighted docks. If you can cast net some finger mullet, the tarpon in the north and south forks of the Sebastian River will put on a show before and after you set hook. If finger mullet are hard to find or if you just prefer artificials, small diving plugs, D.O.A. shrimp and TerrorEyz baits will produce snook and tarpon of all sizes throughout the day. This is also the prime time for fly fishermen to stretch their line on the juvenile tarpon in the Sebastian River. Two- to four-inch baitfish patterns in white are the local favorite. Watch the major and minor periods of the solunar table for your best results with Sebastian River tarpon.
The Indian River Lagoon
Some of the largest trout of the year are taken in May, with topwater plugs and jerk baits being favorite artificial baits. Snook will continue to be a consistent catch in the lagoon in May. Docks, mangrove shorelines, downed trees and spoil islands will hold snook. D.O.A. Shrimp, C.A.L. jigs, and topwater plugs are my favorites to draw strikes from snook in and around cover. Twenty-pound braided line is a must for muscling snook from barnacle encrusted cover.
Fishing at Sebastian Inlet has been excellent both night and day. Snook numbers have continued to be way up in the Sebastian area. Daytime anglers using live croakers and greenies have been scoring on both incoming and outgoing tides around the tips of both jetties. Nighttime boaters drifting live bait and trolling diving plugs are catching good numbers of reds and snook. Land bound anglers are throwing bucktails, storm and Tsunami Swim-Baits and diving plugs with good results after dark. Keep an eye out for small crabs drifting out with the tide and the bull reds won’t be far away.
The Near Shore Atlantic
As the winds of April subside, the near shore waters are clear and warm attracting a variety of baitfish and the game fish that prey on them. Watch for schools of greenies dimpling the surface or pelicans diving. Tarpon to 150-pounds, big jacks and sharks could be shadowing these pods of greenies. Sabiki up some greenies and freeline them back out to get the party started.
Another crowd-pleaser that happens in May is bonito (little tunny) and everything else that comes within a mile or two of the beach to gorge on the swarms of glass minnows that generally make an appearance in the late spring and early summer. It can be a true blitz with Spanish mackerel and bonito taking small flies, plugs and jigs up top while tarpon, kingfish, jacks and sharks hang underneath eating the greenies and other baitfish that come to eat the scraps left over by the surface predators. This is a great opportunity for fly fishermen to catch everything from one-pound Spanish to 100-pound tarpon and sharks.
FORECAST BY: Capt. Gus Brugger