May is a great time for fishing inshore and nearshore along the Treasure Coast. The pilchard baitfish are schooling up along the islands, flats, boat ramps, and beaches. On a calm morning, we basically cruise north up the coast looking for birds diving along the shoreline of the beaches. When it’s too rough to cruise the beaches, we look for “raindrops” or “nervous” water near the boat ramps, flats, and islands. This surface activity is the what we look if the sun hasn’t risen yet. Trolling motors can very often spook the bait before it’s in cast-net-distance, so I try to set up a drift where I see bait. I mostly use a half-inch mesh ten-foot radius cast net.
May can be the best month of snook season to catch keepers as they start to show up near the inlet and beaches to spawn. The live pilchards work great at the rockpiles of the inlet. Simply position your boat up-current of the rockpiles and pitch your baitfish close to the rocks and let it dive down towards the bottom. We always use 4/0-6/0 circle hooks with 40-to-60-pound leader. If the snook aren’t showing up at the inlet yet, the next best options are the Ten Cent Bridge and Stuart causeways. Again, position your boat up-current and cast your diving baits against the abutments and let it dive down to the bottom. The deepest areas under the bridges are often the best spots near the channel or random deep spots near abutments.
We’ve recently seen some tarpon rolling at the inlet, but not every day. May can be a great time to target tarpon at the inlet and beaches using 10-to-12-inch mullet and 8-inch pilchards. The key is getting out early before sunrise with bait ready in the live well. Weekdays are always better than weekends with less boat traffic spooking the tarpon. We use 6/0 or 7/0 circle hooks with 60-to-80-pound leader.
The fishing remains great back in the South Fork with lots of bait and snook of all sizes with jacks and occasional redfish. We should also start seeing the juvenile tarpon showing up back there soon.