Capt. Pete Rapps
Spring is here, and one of my favorite months of fishing is among us. Mild weather patterns make May a perfect month to enjoy our local waters. It is typically a dry month with light winds. The water is warming up into the 80s, and the fish are on their annual migration from the back country waters into the near shore Gulf flats and island areas.
Snook season was again open for a couple of months, but now closes on May 1 and will remain closed until September 1. The big “momma” snook are beginning to show their faces as they work their way out of the back country and into the Gulf. If you are targeting snook, please take extra care to not wear them out with light tackle and to take an extra couple of minutes to assure a full revival when releasing them.
Redfish are around and will gladly accept live baitlike pilchards, thread herring, shrimp or fiddler crabs. Also, be sure to try a GULP shrimp on a weighted Cotee jig head, or a gold spoon. Look for reds around oyster bars, especially during the last part of the incoming tide.
May is generally a mild month as the winter winds are finished and the summer storms have not yet begun. Because of this, you can travel further distances and work different wrecks and areas less fished by others. If you get out to the shallow wrecks, look for larger schools of permit. They will happily feed on small live crabs, artificial crabs, and jigs. Cobia will be available on the same wrecks. Bring a few live finger mullet out to these guys for a little drag screemin’ fun!
The flats are alive with speckled trout this month. Drift grassy areas in the 3’-5’ depth range. Throw 1/4 and 3/8 oz buck tail jigs tipped with a small piece of shrimp forsome fast action. Also, try all types of soft plastic jigs, spoons and top water plugs. Trout will happily hit live baits like shrimp and pilchards. Most of what you catch will be in the slot. When you find one, mark the spot and keep coming back and drifting past it, or just stake off and work the school.
Take a kid fishing and target mangrove snapper. They are plentiful around the mangrove roots and can be caught on live shrimp. Remember, keep a child busy catching a lot of small fish. Their day will be much more memorable catching 20 snapper versus hunting for a couple of trophy fish all day!
This month, some of our fleet and I will be in Big Pine Key to get in on the annual Tarpon Run at the Bahia Honda Bridge. We still have a few openings left for our Florida Keys Tarpon-only charters so drop us a line and let’s get you hooked up to some giant Tarpon!