Stuart Offshore: May 2022

With the April showers behind us, the Treasure Coast can look forward to some great days on the water this month.

May has traditionally been the month for big dolphin off the Treasure Coast, but with the population way down, it’s no longer a sure thing. Here are a few things you can do to increase your chances.

While kite fishing is very productive this time of year, it’s probably not the most effective way around here to target big dolphin. The run and gun method looking for float and tossing live bait and jigs does work, but with fuel at almost $5.50 a gallon, I think trolling will be a more common approach this season. Big baits and trolling faster is key, a decent size mahi has no problem eating big lures at eight knots. I use a mixture of Barts and Scylla lures, incorporate a down bait, and I use a Cannon 10 TS downrigger, which has a cycle mode and a whole bunch of other incredible features. From May through September, this is a huge advantage. With this one I’d recommend putting it on wire since it’s going to double as a wahoo getter this time of year.

Let the females go, I’m not saying every single one, but we’re lucky enough to be able to identify the sex of these fish prior to killing them; we should use this to our advantage. It may not help you this year but next year if we all did it, we would see a huge difference.

Even though over the last 30 years I’ve got some really nice dolphin in shallower water, say 75-to-175 feet, it does seem that lately the quality fish have been a little deeper. Don’t be afraid get out beyond the Hill and look for weed lines, float, current, birds and bait. This is the time of year when venturing out to 1000-plus feet can pay off big, but you’ve got to be willing to strike out if you’re going for the home run.

If you just want to bend a rod with a good variety, the Eight Mile Reef is a great place to focus this time of year. Look for a color change or a weed line in 135-foot depth and rig your rods for sails, kings, blackfin, mahi, cobia, snapper and grouper.

For my top water baits whether trolling or live baiting, I use a six-and-a half-foot circle hook rod from Blackfin, Fin or Marquesa 30s spooled with 20-pound test with a 50- or 60-pound leader and a 6/0 circle hook. Normally we use monofilament leader, but this time of year, quite often we put a trace of 50-poudnd titanium wire from AFW. It doesn’t impede the way the live bait swims, kings and wahoo can’t cut through it, and our sailfish, mahi and blackfin ratio is unaffected. I definitely recommend trying it out if you haven’t.

On more somber note, I’d like to wish my deepest condolences to the Guertin family and the Brogan family. Gary and Big Jim will definitely be missed around the docks and on the water. Wishing you boys calm seas, sunny skies, and Off the Chain fishing! God bless.

FORECAST BY: Capt. Scott Fawcett
Off the Chain Fishing Charters
Phone: (772) 285-1055

Lonnie Houck, with his dad, wife and father-in-law for a fun three-quarter-day of action—mahi, sail, blackfin and kings. Photo credit: Capt. Scott Fawcett.