by Capt. Tom Van Horn
Summer is here, and the longer days allow anglers along Florida's Space Coast the ability to spend their afternoons after work relaxing on the water. Warming coastal waters of May draw streams of baitfish north followed by warm water predators and our prevailing easterly winds give way to summers genially shifting sea breezes. May serves as the beginning of our summertime fishing for tarpon, large jacks, kingfish and sharks just off the beach, so break out your heaver tackle and join in on the adventure.
Inshore, the bait pods, Atlantic menhaden (pogies), have shown up along the beach, and now is the best time to target the ocean predator shadowing these schools. It's not uncommon to catch large redfish, large jack crevalle, blacktip sharks, cobia, and tarpon from within the same pods of bait. To locate bait pods, simply look for feeding birds, flipping and jumping bait, muddy water along the beach, and busting fish.
Spanish mackerel, snook, redfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, flounder, sheepshead and black drum are just some of the species available in the Lagoon inlets and beaches this month. As the baitfish migration moves north, this type of fishing will only get better.
Offshore, dolphin fishing will be the focus of blue water anglers this month. April and May are the time of year when the larger bulls are taken off the Florida Space Coast. The early season dolphin bite has already yielded so big fish. As a bonus, the potential of taking a blue marlin, wahoo or sailfish are good. Near-shore, the kingfish bite has heated up on the near-shore reefs and wrecks and some cobia are still around. As the seas settle down and the bait schools move in close to the beach, look for the kingfish action to move in as well.
On the Lagoon flats, redfish and spotted sea trout will provide most of action for light tackle and fly anglers. The water has warmed up to the point where jack crevalle, ladyfish, snook, and tarpon are showing up. Although they will bite all day, I like to target redfish and sea trout at first light or at dusk with top water plugs like the High Roller Pop Roller and Rip Roller. As the day heats up, change your focus to the deeper edges of the flats (2 to 3 feet deep) jigging with a DOA CAL Shad or 4" & 5.5" jerk baits.
On the St Johns River, increased rainfall has water levels rising and should have the larger catfish on the move, so it's once again time to start soaking bait in the deeper bends of the river.
As always, if you need information or have any questions, please contact me. Also, please consider fishing with my guide service if you would like to tackle any of the above species with my assistance.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn