On the pier king mackerel numbers should improve dramatically this month along with the Spanish mackerel. The kings are usually caught drifting live or frozen cigar minnows on the end of the pier. The Spanish are caught casting bubble rigs, gotchas or strip baits. There should be a increase in the flounder around the pilings using jigs tipped with Fish Bites or bull minnows. Expect a few pompano in the shallows and some blues at night. Now that fall is approaching there will be several opportunities for the surf fisherman. The most highly prized species in the surf is of course pompano which will begin to bite better this month that the last couple. The best baits to target them with are freshly caught sand fleas using a sand flea rake, fresh peeled shrimp purchased here at Half Hitch Tackle or frozen shrimp. There should be a good supply blues and small sharks to catch in the early evening using frozen menhaden, cut pieces of ladyfish or frozen cigar minnows. Lastly there will always be the supple of ladyfish, hardtails and now with fall approaching small jack Cravelle to entertain anyone castin gotchas, spoons or bubble rigs. The jetties will be much like the pier and surf with some pompano and some blues in the afternoon on the out going tide. The reds both puppies and bulls will be around and bite best on the out going tide also. They can be caught bumping spoons off the bottom, drifting a pinfish or cigar minnow and occasionally on plugs. Some mornings will produce good Spanish and bonito runs.Slow trolling for kings and Blackfin tuna in or near the southeast rocks, broken bottom and pier rubble can produce some wonderful summer action if you really want some of the action from these near shore blackfin tuna you are going to have to sacrifice some hooks and a few kings. As we all know for kings a wire leader is a must but for blackfin tune this doesn't work well. You need a 3-4 foot 40lb fluorocarbon leader and a live bait slow trolled either on the surface or on a downrigger. The best action is the first hour of daylight and the last two hours of daylight when visibility for the tuna is at a minimum. You will lose some hooks to the kings fishing this way but the end result is worth while if you get a blackfin and not have to go more than a few miles from shore. Snapper will move a lot this month looking for better supplies of food and cooler water temps. I find September to be a good time to find the red snapper and red grouper on the shallower reefs and wrecks to the east south east of Destin. Places like the Grayton reef and Seagrove rock near shore or the hard rock bottoms to the east.Well this is the month to pile up some numbers on marlin especially white marlin is you have the patience to hook them up. White marlin take over the area from the nipple across the flats and out to the squiggles and over to the spur. The white marlin get thick at times but can be very difficult to hook even though some days you might get 6-12 chances a day. If you want to improve your hook up percentage try the Central American sailfish trick of using circle hooks. Rig a naked medium ballyhoo and run on your riggers with a very light rubber band. Also it works well to have a pitch bait ready. With the circle hook rig let the white marlin pick up the ballyhoo and run to a 10 count and then slowly push the strike lever ever so slowly pointing the rod at the fish until he jumps. Once the fish jumps or comes tight discontinue pushing the lever any farther as the fish will be hooked and ready to fight. You almost never miss one using this method. Amberjack will hang out on the larger metal man made reefs just off the edge. A good supple of live hardtails and live threadfin herring are a must of the quality bites. Grouper have moved to the deepwater looking for better food and water temperature. They are in mostly 180-350 foot depths. The current can be very strong this time of year and sometimes you will find that more than the usual 1oz for every 10ft of water depth of lead is required to hold the bottom while grouper fishing. Also with the fish being so deep a electric reel sure make life so much more enjoyable in the summer heat.Here on the flats you can find trout and reds most mornings and evenings. The first two hours of light and last three hours of light are the better times as the water temps are cooler and fish are more active on the flats. Mirrolure Top Dog Pups, Yozuri Tobi Minnows and D.O.A. are the favored baits. The top water baits are of course more fun as you get to see the bite happen but the D.O.A. fished slow across the bottom is always the number one choice. Live shrimp under a popping cork are an excellent choice for those wanting to sit back and enjoy a cool drink and catch a few fish with the least effort.
Pier fishing should be pretty good this month. Most of the action will come from king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. If you visit the pier at night, you will see some of our hard-core shark fishermen out there all night. If you haven't seen these guys fight a large shark from the pier, it is well worth the trip out there.The king mackerel bite will be hot this month. Near shore, you will see a lot of boats trolling for them around the whistle buoy, which is approximately 4 miles out of the St. Andrews Pass. This area holds a lot of bait, thus draws the kings. Be prepared for anything while fishing this area. Every year some very large wahoo and a few sailfish are hooked by people either trolling or flat lining baits for kings. Bottom fishing near shore will be slow, as the areas have been hit hard all summer. You will be best off traveling down the coast a bit then heading off a few miles, where there are a lot of natural bottom areas. Mahi-mahi dolphin will be caught near shore around weed patches.Blue marlin, white marlin, wahoo, swordfish and dolphin should all be caught offshore this month. Fish the areas around the Point or the Squiggles for the pelagics. It is a little further, but if you have the fuel capacity to take you there, the Desoto Canyon is another excellent spot to troll - or set-up for a night drift and a chance to catch some swordfish. Offshore bottom fishing should also be good this month in 200+ feet of water. Keep a flat-line out for Mr. Wahoo when he comes by.If you are fishing for trout up in the bays, you will want to be out there right at daybreak and fish a top-water plug over the flats. This technique will usually work good for the first couple hours in the morning and then just prior to sunset. During the day, you will be best off fishing live bait such as LY's or shrimp either under a popping cork or fished right on the bottom on a jig-head. Redfish can be caught in the same manner in the same areas you are finding the trout. Mangrove snapper will be around most bay structure and can be caught on light tackle and small live shrimp. Spanish mackerel will be available, but they will be spread out throughout the bay. Flounder will be caught throughout the bay as well. Live bull minnows or plastic grubs fished in the sandy holes of the bay should produce a bite.
These are truly the dog days at the Okaloosa Island Pier. The summer kill of Lys has begun and this can be considered by many beach goers as a bad thing as they wash ashore and smell. To the pier fisherman this can mean the thoughts of catching a real smoker king. Overall kings will be slow this month with only a few caught each day but the larger kings get lazy in the heat and all the dieing Ly make easy pickings for them. Drift one along with the other dead ones and chances are good at picking up a nice smoker one afternoon. There should be a few tarpon still and some bonito. The ladyfish and hardtails will be abundant if you have the need to entertain some kids for a morning or afternoon. They should get the occasional pompano or whiting but only in small numbers. Hot august temps make for long hot days surf fishing. Pompano are a possibility for early morning hours either on sand fleas, fresh peeled shrimp or fish bites. One or the most productive activites will be catching ladyfish using spoons, bubble rigs or pompano jigs. There are some whiting this month bottom fishing and some blues to be caught at night on cigar minnows or menhaden. Sharks are still in abundance and are easiest to pursue at night using chunks of ladyfish or bonito for bait. The sharks range in size for several feet in the 20-30lb range up to ones in excess of 10ft weighing up to several hundred pounds. The sand sharks, bulls and black tips are excellent table fare also. Black snapper are one of the prime species for the savvy jetty angler. Drifting either a small piece of cut cigar minnow, menhaden or live shrimp when available along the rocks is a great way to find some snapper for dinner. Fishing to far from the rocks only gets you trash fish so real, real close to the rocks for the best chances at snapper. The reds will be active on the outgoing tide, spoons or live baits are the best for them. Blues and ladyfish are around most afternoons and can be caught on cut baits, jigs or spoons. The bonito will be around on some mornings and drifting a live cigar minnow or tossing a bubble rigs will entice the most activity.Kings can be difficult when the want to be in August as the hot dog days keep them fairly inactive some days. To be the most productive at catching them you must fish very early if you are going to surface troll for them. Once the sun gets going the kings move to deep water drop offs and edges looking for a cooler place to spend the day foraging for minnows. A planner or better yet a downrigger is the key to a successful day on the water. The downrigger unlike a planner allows the angler to fish relatively deep but still use very light tackle. The lighter tackle is more fun to fish with and the lighter the terminal tackle the more bites you normally get. The Braid Runners and Yozuri plugs can be effective when live baits are hard to come by. Snapper can be found near the beach still in August but you have to be savvier to get them. Try real light leaders and smaller hooks with live baits. Fishing man made structure like chicken coops will provide the best action. Even though live bait is best for the snapper you should still be able to do well butterfly jigging.Opportunities abound here as the heat really only bothers the fisherman here. All the offshore species are well equipped to handle the heat. The wahoo hang on the deep edges looking for food. The dolphin prefer to roam weed lines and rips and the tuna like the mouth of the canyon, the rigs and hanging around the large offshore shrimpers looking for the royal reds. When the shrimpers are culling there catches the tuna find easy meals and they get careless running around the boat looking for food and this is the time to take advantage of them chunking with menhaden. As for the marlin they are likely to be anywhere you find the dolphin and tuna. This is a tough month for bottom fisherman, the weather is hot, live bait can be tough and fish have moved off shore looking for cooler feeding grounds and the current can be very bad. With that said there is still plenty of action if you are willing to work a little. Going to a much lighter fluorocarbon leader, lighter lead, smaller hook and lighter rod/reel you can still be productive. Fish see to like natural bottom better than wrecks when the temps are hotter. Live bait will help a lot but sometimes they can be hard to come by. If you are bait fishing and having trouble getting bites even though you see plenty of bait try out one of the new fluorocarbon bait rigs, there are more money but can save a tripReds are the main focus here, look for them especially the larger bulls on the outgoing tide in the pass near the Destin Bridge and jetties. Some tarpon near the shipwreck between the mid bay and 331 bridge. Trout will favor the area around Mack and Horseshoe Bayou's. Floundering in the Bayous around Niceville will be good for now through mid to late November when the move to the gulf on the first cold fronts. Jack cravelle can be found in the Santa Rosa Sound and in Cinco and Poquito Bayou's. Lastly there will be good runs of mullet around the bridges and bayous.
This is one of the best months for pier fishermen. Bonita will be caught on bubble and straw rigs along with Spanish mackerel and a few blue runners. Those targeting Spanish will be throwing a #1 Clark spoon two to three feet behind a one ounce sinker. The big draw at the pier this month will be the kings. The die-hards will be there one hour before sunrise catching live baits, then rigging them on a stinger rig for the kings.hose trolling for kings will find that the bite will usually be much deeper this month than others. The more successful fishermen will be using downriggers with their baits fished around the 40 foot range in 60 to 80 feet of water. In such depths the darker color duster skirts seem to produce better. July also brings those wonderful weed patches that hold all of our mahi-mahi (dolphin). If you run across one of these weed clumps pull to the upwind side and kill the motors. Start chumming with small pieces of squid or cut minnows. Once the feeding frenzy has begun simply hide a small 1/0 hook into pieces of bait. Remember to keep one fished hooked by the boat and in the water at all times to keep the school near.Blue marlin, white marlin, wahoo, swordfish and dolphin can all be caught offshore this month. Fish the areas around the Point or the Squiggles for the pelagics. It is a little further, but if you have the fuel capacity to take you there, the Desoto Canyon is another excellent spot to troll - or set-up for a night drift and a chance to catch some swordfish. Offshore bottom fishing should also be good this month in 200+ feet of water. Keep a flat-line out for Mr. Wahoo when he comes by.Flounder fishermen should have good luck fishing
On the pier tarpon are the most prized catches from the pier but they provide a challenge. The first challenge is to get the bite. Many days the tarpon come in just out of range of most casters. It takes a 9-10 foot rod to reach them most days. The favored lures are Braid Runners, large 4 oz spoons, cedar plugs and the like. Live hard tails and ly's work if they come close enough to reach with these baits. Once you get the bite having enough line and strong enough line to handle the battle of an hour or more with a tarpon is key. Power Pro line will help immensely here as its small diameter allows plenty of line with good strength and does not tend to blow up reel spools like mono will on large species. The other target fish from the pier are king mackerel which are generally caught between 4:30 am and 8 am or in the afternoons if the trade winds blow above 10 mph. any time we have a weather front pass is a good time to try your luck. Live Ly's are the best baits but are harder to get now that they don't allow the use of Ly ribbons anymore. Plain gold hook rigs will work to get baits but are no real substitute for a Fluorocarbon Sabiki rig rigged with a 2oz lead. There always seems to be an abundance of sharks in the surf in summer. There are several sizes of sharks that roam the beaches that you can catch. First there are the black tips and sand bar sharks that are generally just the right size for large spinning tackle using a 4-6 foot leader and a porgies or ½ a ladyfish for bait. The other species like the bull, hammerhead and dusky generally require much heavier tackle to catch as they can be from 4-12 foot in length. For the larger one, a Penn Senator 6/0-12/0 filled with 80lb line is best. Your leader should be longer than the targeted size of shark. Again ladyfish whole or ½ of a bonito make the best bait. Most of the sharks are caught during the evening hours. For fishing in the day time, the pompano will bite from time to time on shrimp, sand fleas or Fish Bites. There are plenty of lady fish and some Spanish to catch jigging lures. There are some reds around but not as numerous as the cooler months. The jetties will have some black snapper hanging around the rocks. They can be caught drifting fresh cut porgies or cigar minnows and even live shrimp. The reds and blues will bite on the out going tide either on cut baits or lures. They should be a few Spanish and pompano around but not nearly the numbers we experience in the spring months.
Kings should be steady all month. Some real smokers were caught in June. Early in the mornings you will find the kings on the inshore spots like the airplane rock, Billy spot, broken bottom, pier rubble and El Matador gulley. Once the day heats up the fish move off to the Nickey Grounds, 18"s and Timber Holes looking for cooler water to escape the heat of the day. This is also the month where it is not unheard of to catch a sailfish, black fin tune or whaoo in shore also while trolling or live baiting for kings. Plenty of schoolie dolphin should be prevalent also. Do you want snapper? We most would have you believe they have all moved to deep water because of heat. But check those inshore wrecks and see if you don't see something on the bottom machine. A lot of times the snapper are ther but is hard to get a bite, if this is the case get a light spinning rod with like 20lb line and a 3-6oz lead with a live shrimp. a lot of times this is a excellent way to get a bite. If live shrimp are in short supple because of summer heat cast new a few small menhaden in the bayous as they work good on a light rig to. Sometimes in the summer heat the snapper like a smaller snack rather than a larger one.
Wahoo and dolphin can be found anywhere from just inshore of the edge and out. The rock cliffs, steps, flats, the nipple and the squiggles have all had their share of fish. White marlin and blue marlin have picked up around the spur, squiggles and the mouth of the canyon. Yellow tuna have been fantastic with lots of black and skip jack tuna around the spur, canyon mouth, double titty and rigs have all been good. If you get lucky enough to find an offshore shrimper or whale shark, try you best to stay with them. Shrimpers normaly cull the catch twice or three times a day and the tuna will normally be around for that. As for the whale sharks, they only hang out in areas with a lot of plankton, and where there is plankton there is squid. Where there is squid offshore, there are tuna and usually lots of them. There have even been a couple of bluefin tuna caught this year. Troll spreader bars of squid or bullyhoo to attract the tuna and use small soft heads, islanders or jets to get the tuna. Wahoo wasters in black/red, black/green and black/purple have all been good. Also the new Voodoo jets and highspeed lures have worked well. Grouper and amberjack will be good in water over 150 deep. Water temps have heated up and will require live hardtails for amberjack and live cigar minnows or threadfin herring for grouper. Use a extra long leader for more action. A couple good places are the large rocks south of Destin around 22 miles. 3000.027/8631.687, 3000.194/8631.521 and 3000.118/8631.671.
Trout will be moderate to good during the day and best at night. Live shrimp, menhaden, D.O.A. lures and Yozuri minnows work best. Best of all are the number of black and or mangrove snappers around the bridges and jetties. If you just want a good pull on the line look for large schools of jack cravelle in the mouths of the bayous in the early mornings.
King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and redfish will all be caught at the pier this month. Use live cigar minnows for the king mackerel and Got-Cha plugs or straw rigs for the bluefish and ladyfish. Redfish can be caught on the bottom with a piece of shrimp for bait. As a general rule, the bite on the pier tends to be better right at daybreak and during the last couple hours prior to sunset.June is a great month for offshore trolling. You will have the opportunity to catch Wahoo, Dolphin, Marlin and Swordfish. The closest deep water to us is the Squiggles. Most people will start trolling around the point, which draws a lot of bait, then head towards the Squiggles. The red snapper and grouper bite should remain strong this month. Thus far the better snapper bite has been within 20 miles of the pass in about 100' of water. Live and dead baits as well as jigs have been working well and should continue to do so. The better grouper bite should be in deeper water this month. Try fishing the live bottom areas starting in about 150 feet then move out to deeper water out to about 250 feet. Have at least one larger bottom rig (6/0 with 60-80# main line and 100# leader) with a large live bait dropped down for your best chance at a large copper-belly. Amberjack will be over most of the bridge spans and other structure and can be caught on jigs and live baits. Most bottom fishermen will fish a flat-lined cigar minnow for a chance at a wahoo, black-fin tuna or king mackerelKing mackerel will be the main target for near shore fishermen this month. Slow trolled duster/cigar minnow combos or lipped plugs should catch the fish. Don't be surprised if a wahoo grabs your offering, as this is how a good many wahoo are caught each year. There will also be a good number of chicken dolphin inshore this month around weed patches. The easiest way to catch them is on a light action-spinning rod with a piece of squid or chunk bait on a hook.June is usually a very good month for fishing our bays. The flats will be holding plenty of trout, redfish and flounder. The larger trout will be holding in deeper waters such as channels and can be caught on various artificial baits as well as live pinfish, shrimp and LY'S. Flounder should have migrated back into the bays and can be caught on plastic grubs as well as on bull minnows rigged Carolina style. Spanish mackerel will be plentiful in the bay and can be caught trolling mackerel tree rigs and casting Got-Cha plugs.
Kings at the pier are going to be biting good for the same reasons they are good while trolling. The best days at the pier are the days the wind blows for the south or southwest. There will always be a few kings caught early in the morning and a few right at sunset but for the rest of the day the mid morning will be slow. On those afternoons the wind blows good (10 miles or harder) the afternoon bite should be really good. Spanish we be biting most days on gotchas and bubble rigs. Tarpon will also beginning to show in numbers in June. Tarpon are fantastic pier prizes but remember they need to be released in good condition, this means no gaffing them. Once you get them to the pier you need to get a quick picture of them in the water and then break the line as close to the fish as possible to ensure there life for future generations Pompano in the surf will become harder to catch sometime this month as the June grass takes over but there is a good chance it won't happen until either late in the month of maybe even into July sometime. We call it June grass because it usually comes in June, if you surf fish much you know what I'm talking about. It is the green slime seaweed looking stuff that takes over the beach for 2 to 3 weeks every year. What it actually is a bloom of algae that looks like seaweed and happens when the water temperature and salinity come to a certain point with just the right amount of rain water. We all hate it as it gets all over your rigging and is a slimy nuisance if you are swimming but it is a natural happening and refurbishes the beaches and water. So don't be disappointed when it happens as it is a good thing. There are other things to catch when the pompano bite slows, there are whiting near the beach, plenty of ladyfish and all the sharks you want late in the afternoon and early evening fishing with cut chunks of the ladyfish you caught earlier in the day or a whole porgies that we sell here at Half Hitch Tackle. Spanish mackerel have invaded the jetties and should continue to bite all month. The black snapper should be making the appearance this month and are a prized target for jetty anglers because of there excellent table fair. Bonito will make off and on appearances at the jetties along with all the hardtail and lady fish you could ever want. Reds will bit on the out going tides along with the blues. The blues are fun and good eating. The reds are here but not in the numbers you find during the cooler months.Snapper, triggers and mingos should good on the inshore reefs. If you want triggers I would make some rigs say 30lb out of the new Yozuri disappearing pink fluorocarbon. Then use a # 4 live bait hook and tiny pieces of squid. When looking for triggers the smaller the hook and the bait the better, if you use too large a hook and bait it is much easier for the trigger to nibble the bait away and not get hooked. Triggers are very adapt at this because of their exceptional maneuverability in the water. Their size and shape make it easy for them to hover, turn sideways or upside down to nibble the bait from the hook and not get hooked. You should also find a good supply of mingos using this same technique. Red snapper will be caught using slider or egg lead rigs using 60lb leader and a 5/0 Mutu Light Owner cheater rig fishing in water depths between 75-150 foot deep. The kings have been late showing up this year so I expect June to be a better than normal month for king fishing. The water did not warm up nearly as fast in May and the bait fish are just now starting to show in really good numbers. There will be a steady bite of threadfin herring just north of the Destin Bridge, then some on the south side. Farther out towards the jetties you will find regular herring and cigar minnows for live bait. With cooler water temps than some years I would think you might have an excellent chance of limiting out on kings most days trolling the new Braid Runners, Yozuri Tobi minnows or even a duster rigged with a frozen cigar minnow. If you go during the heat of the day it would be best to use either a planner or downrigger to fish deeper. There is also the opportunity to catch a black fin tuna, wahoo or chicken dolphin inshore this monthNow here is where I start to get extremely excited now that the blue water has fully moved in. Opportunities are abound for those wanting to venture deep. This is truly big Dolphin month as large weeds lines consisting of Sargaso weed bunch up in light to moderate wind conditions. I have seen weed lines inside of 12 to 15 miles but these most hold only chicken dolphin, an occasional wahoo, bonito, barracuda and hardtails. The real action on big dolphin happens on the weed lines that form offshore of the 100 fathom curve. This is the same area as you will find the larger wahoo, blue and white marlin and tuna. Smaller juvenile whaoo (15-40lb) can be caught on the south or southwest edge as well as the rock cliffs but the larger more mature fish will be in open water as they become more solitary and less school oriented. I concentrate more efforts on wahoo, dolphin and tuna because of the dinner table factor. But the blue marlin fishery is as good as it gets in June and all the tournament winners will attest to that. There is almost a tournament every weekend in June somewhere along the coast and I would never feel comfortable with a fish on the leader board unless he was a solid 500-600lbs. The grouper (keeper sized any how) will have moved to the edge or deeper (165-300ft) range. Amberjack will get more finicky as the water temps warm; you will need either live hardtails there favorite or extremely lively threadfins to get the bite. The Bait fish have become more available and the AJ's get to where the really want a bait with a lot of movement to attract the biteSpecked trout and red fish at sun up or just before sun down on the grass flats. Live shrimp drifted over the flats underneath the popping cork works wonderful. If you like lures yozuri, crystal minnows, DOA shrimp, fin's lures and top dog lures work also. Mid day and afternoon find the trout and redfish near deep water docks and bridge pilings. Live bait is a must during the heat of the day, shrimp or menhaden are the first choices during these times. At night under dock lights is the time to find a gator trout. Black snapper can be caught around bridge pilings, chumming with menhaden milk and live shrimp or menhaden. Flyfisherman will fin June to be a great month.Green and white clousers, shrimp and crab patterns work very well. Good numbers of Spanish mackerel around bridges, jetties and surf. Spanish can be caught on spoon flies, glass minnows, and red and white deceivers. Along the surf, look for pompano, lady fish and hard tails. Pink or orange crazy charlies, small shrimp and crab patterns. Off shore fly fishing should produce lots of bonitos and some king mackerel. Best bet for offshore fly fishing chumming over natural reefs or wrecks to get fish up to the surface. Bonitos and Kings regularly take large streamers, blue and white or green and while or very small glass minnow patterns. On offshore weed patches you should find plenty of small school dolphin. They will take almost any fly, they are not very picky and are a great deal of fun on a 5-6-7 fly rod.
King mackerel will be the main target this month. Those catching live baits at the pilings and hooking them up to #4 Malin wire with a #2 treble hook will have the most success. Don't forget the big spinning rod, as there will be a few pier-dwelling cobia still around. These fish are usually smaller than the main run so make sure they meet the 33" minimum before gaffing them. Pompano, redfish and Spanish mackerel will also be caught from the pier this month.Everything is pretty much in full swing during May. A few cobia will still be around and can be caught along the beaches. Red snapper season is open and there should be plenty to be caught on the inshore wrecks. Along with red snapper, expect to catch beeliners, triggerfish and amberjack over the same structures. King mackerel will make their presence during this month. People will generally slow-troll a lipped lure like a Mann's stretch 30, or a duster/cigar minnow combination for the kings. Another very popular and effective way to catch king mackerel is flat-lining a live cigar minnow. Spanish mackerel will be caught along the sand bars as well.As the warmer waters move inshore the tuna, dolphin and marlin become reachable. Watch the satellite temperature charts to see where the warm waters are to save time and money. Wahoo and dolphin will show up first with tuna right behind. Many people will troll high- speed lures, such as the panhandler, to find the fish or tide line then use natural or live bait to really focus on the fish. The grouper and red snapper bite should be very good in water 150+ feet deep.The speckled trout and redfish will return to the grassy flats. As the water gets nice and warm during this month the fish will become more active and start hitting top water baits. Live shrimp is still the preferred bait but top water plugs like Yo-Zuri crystal minnow are lots of fun to use. Generally, the better tide to fish is the high tide and the first few hours of the outgoing tide. Bull redfish can be found in the past between the number 5 buoy and the jetty, again on an outgoing tide. Mangrove snapper will be around most structure in the bay as well as at the jetties. Spanish mackerel will be around all month, and it best to troll with a mackerel tree with a Clark spoon. Early in the month use a size 00 Clark spoon and change to a size 0 mid month as both the Spanish and the baitfish get bigger.
The primary targets in May are King Mackerel but again many other opportunities abound on the pier. Come cobia should be hanging around especially when the big bottom rays, turtles and sharks move in. Spanish will be around all month and can be caught jigging Gotchas, Braid Runners or Sea Striker slab spoons. Pompano should be near the shore break at the pier and take jigs, sand fleas and shrimp, and somewhere near the end of the month the whiting should also be moving in good. There is always a chance of a few black fin tuna in May and late may offers a shot at a tarpon. As I said earlier the King Mackerel are the primary target and can be caught best on drifting live or frozen cigar minnows or using the medium size Braid Runner or Rattle traps. May is still a time of optimism and opportunity for the surf angler as many options abound. If you like evening fishing there will be plenty of small sharks to entertain you from late afternoon into the evening. Using a spinning rod rigged with a wire pulley rig and a cigar minnow you can target sharks from 15-50lbs. you have the opportunity to catch several in a couple hours this way. If you want to try for larger sharks using a 114H 6/0 senator reel or larger you can target the larger bull and sand sharks using either a chunk or ladyfish or bonito. You will need to pick a north wind day so you can use a balloon to drift the bait out or swim the bait as it will be to large to cast out. Pompano will continue to be the main target of surf anglers using sand fleas, jigs or Yummy fleas tipped with Fish Bites yellow, pink or orange crab flavor. For the angler who likes jigging May is an excellent month to spot cast pompano and offers good practice for fly anglers targeting Spanish and ladyfish. The jetties in May provide multiple chances at many different species ranging from Pompano, Spanish, Bonito, Reds, Ladyfish and hardtails. Most of the fish at the jetties take a variety of lures but Gotchas, Braid Runners in the small size, bubble rigs and Calcutta jigs tipped with shrimp are best. Bonito will take lures but if you take a Sabiki rig and get live cigar minnows you will do even better. While fishing for bonito you may occasionally run into a grouper or cobia also but either of these will require a net of gaff or some sort to land at the rocks. Black snapper will show towards the end of the month.May is excellent for bottom fishing for several reasons. 1 The weather is normally wonderful in May, light breezes and small seas. 2 The snapper season has just recently opened and inshore wrecks hold good numbers of fish still. 3 Because it is early in the year the water has not really heated up and the fish are much more active and aggressive and can be caught Jigging with Clouts and Sea Striker Slab spoons unlike later in the year when live bait is a must. Trolling inshore (inshore I mean 10-15 miles or less) you will find exceptional numbers of King Mackerel. Some of the more common places to find kings early in the year like this are the southeast rocks, broken bottom, El Matador Gulley, Nicky grounds and the 18"s. kings can be caught trolling many different lures or cigar minnows (live or frozen).Offshore truly turns on in May, the wahoo, dolphin and tuna are very close (as close as 25-30 miles at times in fantastic numbers. The dolphin and wahoo prefer to feed near tide lines, weed patches and rips. They like these places because weed patches provide shelter for many small bait fish, tide lines and rips also attract bait fish because of extra nutrients collected in the areas from the mixing or ocean currents. White marlin will range to within 35 miles or so with the Nipple being one of the hot spots. The Blue marlin typically likes to feed in the deeper areas close to the spur, the steps or the squiggles. The tuna can be almost anywhere food can be found from around weed patches, tide lines rips and just plain old open water. Why open water you may ask well it really isn't just open water as many schools of offshore squid and anchovies are present over deep structure and it appears to be just open water. Water color also dictates where fish will be as they like the dark blue to cobalt water over the green water, the blue water is much saltier and carries more nutrients for bait fish there for producing more predators. Grouper will be along edges and natural live bottom. As for the jacks the often prefer the larger offshore man made reefs. The reason the jack like the man made reefs is many of them are old metal hull boats, barges and tanks (metal). The metal reefs for some reason attract large numbers of what we call Speedos or chum mackerel and amberjack love them. Moral here is attract and have the right bait and you will get the jacks the biteMay is the month you really want to be bay fishing as plenty of trout and reds roam the flats early every morning and in the evening hours. Try a Yozuri Tobi minnow, DOA shrimp or terror eyes. Reds sneak in also. As the day warms the trout and reds move to channel edges, deepwater boat docks and bridges. Large jack cravelle roam the bayous most mornings and can be spotted chasing menhaden. Large spoons, mirrolures, and rattle traps work well here. Get your fly rod out for some early morning fun on the flats. Spanish, trout and reds all take flys good and May is an excellent time to get them to bite - the water is still pleasant and fish are aggressive.
April is by far one of the best months for pier fishing. Cobia will be caught on a daily basis, and while waiting for the cobia to show anglers will be catching Spanish mackerel, pompano, flounder and redfish. If you are new to cobia fishing on the pier, be sure you follow the proper etiquette, which is whoever sees a cobia first, they will yell "first cast" which allows him to have the first cast at that fish. After the first cast is made, all bets are off as you will have everyone else targeting the fish at the same time, so make that first cast count!April is finally here and after a long winter of mediocre fishing, things start to happen in a big way this month. When we talk near shore, we are referring in general the waters within 10 miles of the beach. Red snapper will be opening towards the end of this month and can be caught on live or cut bait over most structure within 10 miles of the pass. Be aware there are new limits that go into effect this year for red snapper so be sure to have a copy of the regulations on board with you. Along with red snapper, there should be plenty of beeliners, triggerfish and amberjack on the same structures.Also near shore this month, those trolling mackerel tree rigs along the sand bars will catch Spanish mackerel.The offshore grouper bite should be good this month, and when the red snapper season opens up later this month, it should also be decent. Live baits, cut bait and jigs should all produce fish. This is also the month folks start dragging high-speeders in the search for wahoo that should start to make their way into our waters starting this month. Towards the end of the month the dolphin should also show up and can be caught trolling surface lures. King mackerel will start to show-up in our offshore waters this month as well.The bays are alive with activity in April. The trout will be over the flats and will start to hit top-waters, such as Mirro-Lures and Yozuri baits, as well as live shrimp and LY's. Redfish will be sharing the same waters and will hit the same baits, as well as a gold spoon. Flounder will be migrating back in the bays and can be caught on live bull minnows and plastic grubs. Spanish mackerel will be thick throughout the bays and can be caught trolling mackerel tree rigs or casting Got-Cha plugs. A sure way to locate the Spanish mackerel is to look for the birds to be diving on bait - the Spanish won't be far. Don't be too surprised if, while you are trout fishing around Redfish point or behind Shell Island a cobia shows up around your boat. Every year there is cobia caught or sighted in these areas.
On the pier cobia are the trophy catch this month but lots of other opportunities abound. Spanish are the most plentiful and reliable but pompano, sheepshead and reds are daily arrival. This first king should be caught some time near the middle of the month. If by chance you are the lucky one to get the first king it will get you a free season pass to the pier. The cigar minnows are becoming abundant and this is a good sign the kings are only days away. Jack Cravelle are also roaming the beaches and even though they are not great table fare the are exciting to catch as pound for pound there are not many others that can compete for the sheer fight the can hand out. In the sand fleas have become much more plentiful; this is a good sign and should bring many more fish to the beach. Pompano are being caught on sand fleas, shrimp or fish bites and the best fishing has been to the east of Destin but this should be changing and more fish should be on the west beaches. Pompano are the popular targets but there is now a much larger variety of fish to be had. Spanish mackerel are plentiful on Sea Striker jig fish, Braid Blades, spoons and Gotcha plugs. Cobia can be caught bottom fishing with live or frozen eels, cigar minnows and whole squid. As normal don't be surprised if you get whiting, reds or sheepshead. On the jetties Spanish are preferential targets here, gotcha's are the best choice, then the new Braid Blades or Yozuri Live Minnows or baits but jig fish spoons and jigs do well also. Pompano are good on Carolina pompano jigs tipped with Fish Bites shrimp, sand fleas or smelly jelly. Reports of blues have been consistent and I expect them to remain thought the month. Expect the reds to be ok with most of them being over the slot limit.Finally! SNAPPER SEASON OPENS APRIL 15TH IN STATE WATERS, APRIL 21ST IN STATE WATERS. Well whether you fish you own boat or use a charter or head boat it's finally time you can get a boat load of tasty snapper. Fishing should be good as they have been closed since October 31st. several of the charter boats have said they have stopped to catch bait in shore and has had to beat the snapper away. This is a good sign. If you are looking for snapper many rigs work well but I would suggest using fluorocarbon leader and Owner Mutu hooks. A good rule of thumb on the sinker.Kings and Spanish are the principal focus here now that the bait fish have shown up. Spanish bite best on trolling style gotcha's, straw rigs with a Clark spoon and 3-6oz trolling lead. Kings and larger Spanish can be caught on Yozui Tobi minnows, dusters rigged with a live or frozen cigar minnows, live cigar minnows and herring drifted over structure.Groupers and amberjack will be caught mostly on the edges and deep water wrecks. Where most of the winter you could get a few on live pinfish and frozen cigar minnows and fishing was tough now it is much easier and the live cigar minnows and herring are easy to get along the beach and in the pass fishing is heating up and the fish will be soon moving into shallower water. Remember to throw over a fly line rig now as this is how to catch your first king of the season. There is also a good chance to pick up a black fin tuna fishing this way also. For those seeking the offshore trolling experience there is good tuna action at the rigs and canyon, some wahoo will be moving near the edge and you would have a excellent opportunity for them within 30 miles by the last 2 weeks of April.Trout and redfish are moving to the flats and becoming much easier to catch. Top water plugs will provide excellent action and well a array of plastics. There are plenty of sheephead around the jetties, bridge pilings and bay reefs. Also there is good action on Spanish mackerel in the harbor, the coast guard channel and around the Destin bridge trolling. If you like to fly fish this is an excellent chance to hone you skills on the Spanish as they take the fly well and are plentiful.
Pier fishing should pick-up noticeably this month. Spanish mackerel will provide plenty of action to those casting spoons, Got-Cha plugs and straw rigs. In addition to the Spanish mackerel, the pompano should show-up this month and they can be caught on sand fleas, dead shrimp or pompano jigs. Bonita should still be around and can be caught on straw rigs, Got-Cha plugs and spoons. Again, have that cobia rod ready especially if you are going to be out there towards the end of the month.You can troll with mackerel tree rigs along the beaches to get in on the Spanish mackerel bite. March is also the month people start to get real excited about the cobia run. They should start to show up in small numbers sometime around the 3rd week of the month. I know if I were doing any fishing at all during March, I would have a rod rigged for cobia, because you just never know when one may pop up next to you!Due to the snapper and grouper closures, there isn
March brings the start of the real fishing season. Typically they have already caught the first pompano by now and in some cases the first ones of the year are either stragglers left over from the fall run or some that have decided to winter here in town. March does bring the first of the true spring run. They can be caught either bottom fishing with sand fleas or shrimp or jigging with small 3/8 to 5/8 ounce jigs.Cobia show up this month also usually during the last week. There have been rare times they come earlier if the weather gets good. Most of the pier fisherman use jigs to catch them, some will take live eels or bottom fish with whole squid. The ells or squid work much better if you are looking to get one from the surf.Bottom fishing is mostly triggers, mingo snapper and amberjack. Early in the year you do have the opportunity to get some keeper amberjack fairly close to home. Cobia show up in March and are one of the prize catches this month. They catch the first one usually in the 3rd week of the month but in recent years several have been caught as early as the first week of March. The main part of the run appears during the last week of the month. Cobia jigs, ling tubes and live eels are the most popular baits. More people catch them by sight casting but a few are caught trolling or bottom fishing. Trolling for Spanish is the most productive type of fishing. The best bet is trolling either a Clark spoon with a straw rig, maybe a gotcha troll. Either way it is best to run a trolling lead in front of either. You will find them near the pass, along sand bars and in the harbor.There are always some tuna both black fin and yellow fin around the rigs and the canyon. Also you have a shot at wahoo around the rigs. As for bottom fishing if groupers are open they will be good around the edges and deepwater reefs. Boston mackerel and live pinfish are good baits. Amberjack should be plentiful and aggressive taking Butterfly type jigs, clouts and spoons very well.Speckled trout will open back up in March and with warming temps will start to take lures better. The best lures are Yozuri plugs, DOA shrimp and Gulps, as for live bait shrimp will be the choice. Reds should be plentiful around almost any structure. Spanish mackerel should also be abundant near the pass and in some of the bayous around the Cinco and Shalimar Bridges.