Pompano and a few whiting can be found all winter, look to catch them best on the couple days just prior to a big cold front coming down from the north. The reason for this is most days we have an offshore wind blowing and the water is calm and clear and pompano get very weary. On the days before a weather front we normally get a heavy southerly breeze which kicks up a swell and beach break. This in turns stirs up the sand fleas and shrimp and gets the pompano rowdy. Large red fish roam the beaches in winter and can be taken on cigar minnows, squid and cut mullet, they are even a few keeper size mixed in with that large bulls so dinner is always available.
Scheduled list of events.
• 8:00 am: Park Opens, Set-up. Volunteers welcome. Coffee time.
• 9:00 am: Getting Acquainted, Question and Answer time.
• 9:30 am: Casting Demonstrations by Neil Mackellow and Frosty. This demonstration will be a brief display to show just how much distance can be obtained with proper techniques.
• 10:00 am: Equipment/Technique discussions, Fish cleaning demonstrations, Product sales. Bring some fish in a cooler, we’ll show you how to clean them.
• 10:30 am: Cast Net Demonstrations.
• 12:00 – 12:30: Lunch break.
• 12:45-? Question and answers as well as reviews.
This month the pier will produce flounder, pompano, whiting and winter bonito. Flounder take the usual offerings of bull minnows, live shrimp, jigs tipped with fish bites and grubs. Pompano prefer fresh peeled shrimp, sand fleas and jigs. Whiting of course like fresh peeled shrimp too!!!. Winter bonito can provide excellent fun from the pier to occupy slow winter mornings. Most morning you can see bonito working the beach under the birds. They seem to feed best and be most active the first few hours of daylight. As they move in and out from the pier they can be caught on white jigs, straw and bubble rigs and small spools. Please do remember if you are not going to keep the bonito use a pier net and not a gaff as you will want to release them unharmed and a gaff surely means death and less fish for the future.
Not a lot of activity here, other than a few bonito, a couple Spanish and the remote possibility of a king mackerel that forgot to migrate south inshore trolling is about finished for the year. The only real possibility is maybe that of trolling a Rapalla, Yozuri or Mann’s stretch on a downrigger for groupers over some near shore reefs. This is much more productive farther south where the water is shallower but can work here when conditions are right.
Most of the Wahoo, dolphin and marlin are gone now but let this stop you from venturing off to the canyon and the rigs for some fantastic yellow fin and black fin tuna action . You will need to watch the weather and pick some nice days to make the necessary fun to where the tuna will be. Many times they can be found around the Spur and mouth of the canyon 2927.327/8656.298, when fishing this area you will be trolling open water with ballyhoo rigged on a Islander or Moldcraft soft head. You should be looking for tides lines, slicks, birds, whale sharks and offshore shrimper’s all of which attract tuna. If you cannot find them here you may need to venture over to the rigs. The tuna may be at the Petronis 2913.740/8746.858 or the Ram Powell 2903.638/8805.503. At the rigs you can either troll lures, jig live bait or chunk for the tuna. Any of the methods can be more or less productive depending on the mood of the tuna.
This area produces many choices for the inshore angler this time or year whether fishing from the bridge, shore or boat. Redfish are the main targets and take a variety or baits. Seastriker spoons1 ½ oz to 2 oz, D.O.A. terror eyes, yozuri slab spoons, live shrimp and live pinfish do the job well. Sheepshead around the pilings are easy pickings on either live shrimp, fiddler crabs or oysters. One excellent method for catching sheepshead is for them to find you rather than you find them, do this by taking a garden rake with you and scraping the barnacles from the pilings them slowly sink and chum once you have scraped off. This will attract the sheepshead to you making them much easier to catch. A Carolina rig with a 1 to 2 ox egg lead and a #2 mustad 94150 hook is the rig. Flounder are much more abundant also and the trick here is a D.O.A. shrimp or gotcha shrimp tail tipped with fish bites. Live bull minnows and mullet also do will for the flounder.
Check some of the bay reefs this month for grouper as with colder weather the often move into the bay. Live or frozen cigar minnows are the bait and maybe a live pinfish. Some good places to try in the bay for grouper are the cones 3024.747/8630.757, 3024.738/8620.230 and the barges at 3026.192/8629.523 and 3026.227/8629.531. Speckled trout , redfish, black drum and sheepshead are the the main focus here for the next while.. Trout roam the flats both early morning and evening, Mirr-o-lure top dog jr’s , D.O.A shrimp and terror eyes work well. Drifting a live shrimp under a rattle cork over the flats does well for the angler who doesn’t want the effort involved in lure fishing. Reds and sheepshead can be found around boat docks, bridge pilings and bay reefs. Lastly a good bet is white trout. They can be found all over the bay. They like close access to deepwater but with structure, with this in mind almost all the bridges and deep bayous hold white trout. Small pieces of shrimp or grub tails tipped with shrimp catch these small but tasty trout.
The cooler waters we experience in November should result in excellent surf fishing. Pompano should be cruising the beaches and providing anglers with great action. Not only do pompano put up a good fight on light tackle, they are also excellent table fare. The two main tactics to catch these fish are to bounce a pompano jig off the bottom, or set up a two-hook bottom rig, using fresh shrimp or sand fleas for bait and a Owner 2/0 mutu-lite circle hook attached with 15-20 pound fluorocarbon leaders and a 1 or 2 ounce pyramid style lead. Mixed in with the pompano will be some redfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and whiting.Fishing at the pier should be pretty good in November. Those fishing the same rig as described in the surf section should have good results with the pompano. November is also a very good month to target the bull redfish on the piers. A good rig for the reds is a 20# class spinning outfit, rigged Carolina style using a 2oz egg lead, 4 foot, 30# test fluorocarbon leader and a piece of chunk bait attached to a 2/0 kale style hook. Flounder fishing should also be good this month, with live bull minnows being the best bait and a white/pink or chartreuse jig being close second. Large Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish should also provide plenty of action.Redfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and flounder should all keep anglers happy this month. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will hit a Got-Cha plug, silver spoon or straw/bubble rig. Be sure to use at least 50# leaders with these toothy fish and check your leader for frays after each fish. The redfish will be hitting live baits such as large shrimp or small to medium sized pinfish on a moving tide. A large top water plug fished early in the morning or at night should provide great and exciting action. The flounder will be caught on the bottom in areas around the kiddy pool.November brings the close to red snapper harvesting in the Gulf of Mexico. This is also the first year that grouper will be closed for harvesting in federal waters from November 1st until January 1st. Grouper may still be harvested in state waters throughout the year. Be sure you check your charts and make sure you are in state waters if you are grouper fishing. As the water cools the grouper move in to shallower waters and will be hanging around the inshore wrecks and structures. Try some of the inshore bridge spans. During November you should also be able to catch flounder, vermillion snapper and triggerfish on these same spots. While you are bottom fishing, flat line a live pinfish or cigar minnow (dead or alive) on a kingfish rig and it is very possible to catch a kingfish or cobia this month.November is not the best month for trolling, however during the first part of the month the king mackerel will still be around. A good trolling rig for the kings is a duster or widget, cigar minnow combination or a Manns stretch 25 or 30 trolled around some of the inshore wrecks. Spanish mackerel will still hit a trolled Christmas tree rig in the bay or along the sandbars.Flounder are migrating out of the bay this month and can be targeted at the mouths of creeks and canals as well as any sandy area close to the pass. Live bull minnows, finger mullet or ly
October should be the start of some very good surf fishing. As the water cools down a bit, redfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, flounder, whiting and pompano will all be caught in the surf. The recommended rig for flounder, redfish, pompano, whiting and flounder is a two hook bottom rig with about a 2oz pyramid lead, baited with fresh shrimp and fished right on the bottom. The serious pompano fishermen will be using various pompano jigs in the surf. Some preferred rigs for the Spanish mackerel and bluefish are the straw rig with a bubble, Got-Cha lure or silver spoon. Be sure you use at least a 50# monofilament leader on these rigs.With the pier being shortened by the recent hurricanes, the king mackerel bite won
Lots of excitement in the surf now the red tide is subsiding. There should be a good supply of sharks and lady fish. Also carry extra bait as there are so many small jack Cravelle that you will us plenty of extra sand fleas or shrimp Pompano will be back in full swing now but some of the favored areas may be inaccessible such as Ft. Pickens, the National Seashore between Navarre and Pensacola Beach and Navarre itself. That doesn’t mean there are not any good spots. Your choices are the big hole just east of the east jetty, Henderson Park, Topsail Hill Park, Grayton Beach Park and Blue Mountain Park. As well as Pompano expect good whiting bites, blues and ladyfish can be caught on straw rigs and Seastriker Jigfish. Some sharks at night can be caught on cut chunk baits.
Kings will be the main target but there are a multitude of other options here also. Spanish should be around most days, flounder will be very consistent on live minnows, shrimp and jigs tipped with fish bites. A few blackfin tuna should show up in the mornings and evenings of the full moon. Oh yeah and the Grouper, we have already seen many grouper near shore since “Hurricane Ivan the Terrible” and some of these grouper will stay inshore all winter making for some exciting fall and winter action around the pier.
Kind of the same thing here as with the bottom fishing, there should be an abundance of kings and blackfin tune that have headed east ahead of the storm. If you are looking for a rodeo winning king do your hardest fishing in the first two weeks of the month. In most normal years the winning king is caught before the first real signs of fall. Once the cool snaps come, the small schoolie kings get very active but the big smokers tend to head to deeper water. There are very few years when the winning king is not caught in week one or two of the rodeo. There will be plenty of schoolie dolphin so long as we don’t get an early freeze.
The swordfish have been fantastic all summer and you still have about 4 to 5 more good weeks when weather permits. White marlin makes for great excitement because of the sheer numbers. You can find them in a triangle the starts at the nipple over to the flats and out to the spur and back. In the same area you are likely to good numbers of yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, Wahoo and some blue marlin. Remember, kind of like the kings; it is better to get an early start on offshore species for the rodeo, just in cast we get an early freeze.
Flounder will become major targets in the inlets to bayous, the mouth of the pass and the near shore reefs. You will find the flounder bite best on the tide change and the outgoing being the better tide. Reds will be in these same areas and bite on live pinfish, spoons and jigs tipped with fish bites. Trout will be moving to the flats, this is a time for some really exciting top water action. Most bayou mouths, grass flats and points along the shallows will hold good numbers of specks. The white trout will be good near bridges in the day and in the harbor and bayous 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 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.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.The grouper have been good all summer since Hurricane Dennis and I see no reason why this trend should not continue. The snapper on the other hand have been somewhat slow but with the passing of Hurricane Katrina to our west this should have moved a good supple of snapper our way so I expect the overall bottom fishing to be very good over the next couple of months barring we do not have another hurricane to affect it is a adverse way.Kind of like the pier now with fall approaching the kings should be very good near shore whether you are trolling with dusters rigged cigar minnows or slow trolling live baits. There will also be a nice supple of chicken dolphin mixed with some black fin tuna.This has been the most pleasant surprise all summer. The august white marlin fishery was fantastic and we are expecting the same or better kind of fishing during September. Also the swordfish had been just out of this world. I cannot ever remember the numbers of swordfish like we have this year in the mouth of the canyon near the spur. Many reports have come in of boats with 4, 5 or 6 in a night and we are just now approaching the time when they really get good. The wahoo will move to the rock cliffs looking for food and the yellowfin tuna will be around the rigs if you can find one after the hurricane. Dolphin should be on almost any floating debris you can find whether it is grass, pieces of trash or whatever.The bay should start to turn back on this month. The trout bite has been almost a night thing only with the heat but now that is will start cooling at night just a little the early morning bite should last up into the morning instead of only the first hour of light. The reds will be good on the flats and also around the pass on the out going tide. The jacks should be moving into the sound and northern bayous now. We have had reports of lots of ladyfish on the north side flats and they bring with them a good number of sharks if you like to get them in the bay.
Surf fishing should pick up this month as the water cools a bit. September is typically a good month to target whiting using a two-hook bottom rig tipped with fresh shrimp. If you peel the shrimp and remove the head prior to putting it on your hook, the bait will stay on your hook a lot better. Casting a silver spoon or a Got-Cha plug for Spanish mackerel and bluefish should also be productive. Towards the end of the month the flounder should start making their move back into the bay, so a live bull minnow dragged along the bottom could result in some fine eating.King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, redfish, ladyfish and flounder towards the end of the month should all be on the menu for pier fishermen this month. The better bites will come early in the morning and late in the afternoon. King mackerel will fall prey to a flat-lined cigar minnow (dead or alive) while the spanish mackerel and bluefish prefer a Got-Cha plug or bubble rig worked swiftly across the top of the water.A flat lined pinfish should result in some great redfish action this month. Most will be over the 18
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.
This can normally be tough month for bottom bumpers unless you are willing to deep water fish. Structures in water over 150ft will hold the most and largest species. Snapper, grouper and amberjack will be available to anglers using a variety of live baits fished over deep water structure. Jigging can produce good catches of amberjack on diamond jigs, clouts and Jigfish. Also, just like in the dead of winter live shrimp can be the savior to the near shore snapper fisherman when they are available. The snapper really like live shrimp and these are some of the few types of bait that can entice the inshore shallow water snapper to bite. Quite a few dolphin and black fin tune range inshore this month so it is a good idea when bottom fishing to keep a flyline out to see what action may arise.
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.
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.
As you may already know, there seems to be an abundance of sharks in the surf. 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.
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.
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.
Big game season is in full swing now. The last month of June brought the Emerald Coast Classic where ever category was filled with tremendous fish including the 1st place Blue Marlin a 634lb fish caught on the Wishbone. There have been several Blue Fin Tuna caught last month and this may continue if the loop current stays close to home. For over a month now you have been able to fish eddies of the loop current that have come within 100 miles of Destin. The blue water has been much closer, as close as the rock cliffs at times. For the best results offshore call or come by the store for recent rip, weed line and blue water info or you can get a true Roff’s report for $75.00 showing exactly where to go each day on line at Capt Jeff Moorman. All the normal species should be readily available in the 35-70 mile range and for those of you heading to the rigs things may even be better.
The pompano run is still going strong. Most will be caught on live sand fleas with light line and fluorocarbon leaders. Fresh peeled shrimp will produce some great whiting catches this month. A few bluefish and skipjack(ladyfish) will also be caught on Gotcha plugs and silver spoons. 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. Throwing a bubble and straw rig off the pass side of the jetties will result in some great topwater action on Spanish, bonita, ladyfish, and hardtails this month. Take along your favorite pompano rod and a few jigs for the schools of silver sides running the jetties. So far this has been an outstanding bottom fishing year. Try using live or dead cigar minnows on any structure in 60 foot of water or deeper to fill the box with red snapper. Grouper fishermen are finding they have to go just a bit further this month to get the quality bites that are in the 100 to 125 feet mark. A lot of amberjack are still on most any structure deeper than 75 feet. Try trolling a widget and cigar minnow tandem 10 to 15 feet behind a 6-ounce lead stopped by a barrel swivel for some wild king mackerel action. Remember that these early fish are usually the bigger variety so have those drags set loose. Most of the inshore structure will be holding a few fish.
Pompano 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.
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.
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 month.
Now 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.
June is going to be a fantastic month for bay fisherman as like the kings in the gulf everything is about a month late because of water temps. All during May the trout never really left the deep water docks and moved to the flats like they were supposed to until the last week of May. This said you have a fantastic opportunity to catch some super sized trout over the flats using top water plugs, live menhaden and live shrimp. If you are using menhaden a Owner Mutu Light #1 hook is all that is required for terminal tackle, if you are using a live shrimp you need a rattle float or popping cork attached to a 24 inch mono leader and then the hook. Use the popping sound of the cork to attract the trout to the shrimp and also to keep the shrimp from hiding in the grass. Remember the smaller trout like hiding in the grass on the flats and the larger trout hang out on the sand beds surrounding the grass flats. Jack Cravelle will be in the bayous crashing schools of mullet and menhaden and are huge fun on fly tackle or smaller spinning outfits.
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 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.
Trolling inshore (inshore I mean 10-15 miles or less) you will find exceptional numbers of King Mackerel. Many of the common spots to locate them can be found on the Custom Half Hitch May we sell here at the shop. If is a list of basic numbers no fisherman should be with out, it is more or less my personal book of numbers I have decided to share, the reefs and wrecks on it are by local name and are easy to locate for the most part ($ 5.99). 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.
The trout will hit the flats this month in force and top water baits will do them in. The new Yozuri soft live plugs and the new D.O.A. chuggers have been working great and will produce excellent numbers when fished over the flats. Reds can be caught on red ripper spoons especially the ones with spinners. Captain Mikes Flats Candy Lures with the Fish Bites inside them really does the trick also on the reds also. The Jack Cravelle will be moving into the bay in search of mullet, menhaden and ly’s. The Jack Cravelle are tremendous fun on light tackle and provide a good opportunity to test you fly rod skills on a large hard fighting brute of a fish.
Pompano will be the main target of surf fishermen this month. Look for schools of migrating fish just off of the second sand bar. Once located tossing chartreuse or pink colored pompano jigs at the school will produce some great tasting fillets. Keeping a rod ready with a 2 or 3 ounce cobia jig is also a must this month.Throwing Gotcha plugs with a 12 to 15 pound spinning rod and reel will produce some great Spanish mackerel action. Be sure to use a 30 to 50 pound monofilament leader as these fish have teeth and will break leaders. The main target of pier fishermen will be the fall cobia run. Having a live blue runner(hard tail) rigged up and ready will sometimes entice those fish that will not eat feathered jigs. Pompano will also be caught this month using live or dead sand fleas fished right off the second sand bar.Sheepshead will be caught the first part of the month using a small #1 or 1/0 hook with a small split shot weight attached 12 inches above the hook baited with small live shrimp. The Spanish will be in full swing this month as well. Try throwing a ½ weighted silver spoon attached to a 40 pound leader. Cobia will also be caught using 3 ounce jigs. The first of the kings will also show up. Try using live cigar minnows attached to a #2 treble hook with a 40 pound wire leader.