Living the Dream
by Capt. Greg Stamper
April was a bit windy, but there were great fish caught. Fishermen throughout the area can expect more of the same in May, hopefully with less wind. It does not matter if you are fishing in the back bays, nearshore waters, or offshore, it is all going to be good. Bait schools of threadfin herring are plentiful in 10 feet of water out. These large schools of bait bring with them predators. If you want white bait, its on the beaches now and easy pickings, your welcome.
Tarpon fishing becomes a big deal now, as the big push of fish have arrived from the South. Tarpon started to be caught regularly last month, in the 100pound class. We will be able to catch permit, cobia, and sharks regularly throughout the near shore waters for many months to come. The back-water trips will be full of snook, redfish, and trout as backcountry slams will come often. Offshore guys will continue to catch an array of good eating fish.
The tarpon spawn is full speed now and lots of anglers will be chasing them from the ten thousand islands all the way to Tampa. Crabs on 5/o circle hooks with 50lb leaders will do the trick. Threadfin, pilchards, and catfish tails also work well, especially if the water gets dirty. Permit are another great fish to target after the arms get soar from tarpon. There were acers of permit last month from 30 feet out. Those same wrecks that hold the permit will also have cobia on them. Snappers, some trout, as well as mackerel, will be some of the other bycatch.
The bays, creeks, and beaches are an excellent place to spend time these days. Snook can be seen cruising the beaches, often within feet of the shore. The pilchard schools are thick now and using them or something that mimics it works best. Pompano will also be moving along these beaches and will usually be out a few feet deeper. Red fishing in our bays and creeks is another option especially if the winds coming from a westerly direction. I recommend starting around the oyster bars and docks on the low tides, then work toward the mangrove shorelines as the tide rises. Trout will be found on almost all the open flats especially those with nice grassy bottoms in 2-5 feet.
Offshore, it is grouper full speed now, with the best fishing out past 100 feet. Mangrove snapper fishing will be good, especially during the night along with yellowtail and mutton snapper. Chumming for 30-45 minutes before even dropping a line is the way to go. Once you can get the snappers up of the bottom and closer to the boat, it is game on! Anglers that get out past 120 feet will find African pompano, gag and black grouper, blackfin tuna, and amber jacks.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
Snookstampcharters.com Fort Myers, Fla