by Capt. Tom VanHorn
As summer approaches and our water temperatures increase, so do the fishing opportunities along the Lagoon Coast of Florida. May is one of the best fishing months on east Florida's coastal waters, so make sure your lunch is packed, mental health days are scheduled and be prepared to hit the water on a moment’s notice.
Near-shore along the beaches, concentrate your efforts in the areas of active bait pods (pogies). Typically, when you see concentrated areas of bait with birds feeding on the surface, big fish are just as active underneath. Species feeding on these pods include tarpon, jack cervalle, redfish, cobia, and sharks. Near the end of the month, you can add kingfish to the mix. Also, tripletail and flounder numbers should be improving around the Port Canaveral buoys. At the inlets and beaches, Spanish mackerel, snook, redfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, flounder, sheepshead, and black drum are just some of the species available this month.
Blue water trolling should be excellent in May, with the larger dolphin being the focus of most blue water anglers. Also, in the mix are tuna, wahoo, kingfish, sailfish, and an occasional marlin. When targeting these species, work areas of color and water temperature changes (lines) in 120 feet of water or deeper, and in areas of concentrated floating weeds and debris. In addition, do not forget that kingfish and cobia are present on the near-shore shoals, reefs and wrecks like Bethel Shoals, Pelican Flats, Chris Benson, and 8A reefs.
On the lagoon flats, redfish and spotted sea trout will provide the majority of the action for light tackle and fly anglers. For sea trout, fish your favorite top-water plugs at first light in about two feet of water concentrating in areas where baitfish are active. After the morning top-water bite fades, switch to your favorite soft plastic jig fished in three to five feet of water alone the edges of flats or spoil islands.
In May the water has warmed to the point where the jack crevalle, ladyfish, snook, and tarpon will begin to show up in good numbers. In addition, there is a huge showing of finger mullet this season, so it is time to break out your DOA Bait Busters. Schooling redfish and other predators find the Bait Busters difficult to resist when retrieved quickly just under the surface of the water in areas of concentrated mullet schools. Remember when using the technique; keep your lure moving until you feel the fish on the line.
Finally, fishing on the St Johns River freshwater is particularly good in May. The crappie are balled up in deeper water if you know where to look for them. Also, the bluegill and shellcrackers are concentrated on beds and are very tasty and great fun on light tackle. Lastly, the larger channel catfish will be on the move once the water levels start rising from our summer rain.
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn