Steinhatchee Fishing Report


These Are The Days


April fishing is hard to beat, but May is actually an improvement! Why? Our pelagic species are here and making a fuss. Spanish mackerel, kingfish and cobia are off our coastline.

Spanish mackerel will surprise attack—cutoff—those fishing for trout on the flats. But for those fishermen trolling around bait pods, or in and around Little Bank with spoons or flashy jigs with a trace of #1 wire leader, the Spanish attacks are expected and thwarted to the sound of singing drags and happy anglers. It is worth the thrill. No need to fill the box with Spanish as they are best eaten fresh. When frozen, Spanish turn into cat food.

For the big thrill, you know when line peels off the reel at a prolonged high pitched sound that makes the adrenaline spike, troll for kingfish with large spoons, plugs and such with a trace of #80 mono leader or #3-5 wire. The most productive areas are around the bait pods dimpling the surface, early in the mornings and evening from 20 feet on out. If you’re used to catching Florida snapper and sea bass hand over fist, then trolling may seem at first long in the tooth. The bite doesn’t happen the instant the bait hits the water. So first try trolling in short bursts. When you see a good area for kingfish, once the lures are out, give the troll thirty minutes. Don’t let the trolling become boring. Another idea is to have trolling rods ready so when you’re going from A to B, it easy to set the lures out and things don’t seem so random. Here is the kicker, when it happens, a kingfish strikes and runs out a hundred yards of line in a blink, you’ll find yourself trolling for longer periods of time in anticipation for the next strike. It is addictive.

Cobia—my favorite fish—are happening in May! Use fresh live-bait over and around structure for the best results. You don’t actually fish for cobia; you hunt them. That means, taking the time to collect fresh live-bait—blue runners are most excellent—and bouncing around from one marker to the next, one artificial reef to the next, one wreck to the next, etc., pitching out bait on a hopeful line. And backing up the live-bait with a buck-tailed jig. Battling one good cobia in a day is worthy of all the effort to me. But cobia usually cruise in small pods, so if you find one, there will be others.

May is one of the best months for good fishing out of Steinhatchee. Get your gear ready, and your butt in gear, and come on.