As May comes to a close, it's normally "game on" for some of the largest snook of the summer. Interestingly, the surge of big females that usually descend on our west central beaches seems to be late.  In just the last week, groups of these big fish are finally starting to show. The explanation may be water temperatures, which have dropped back into the high seventies in the last 10 days. Normally, low to mid eighties are the norm right now. Fishing in the first half of May did involve some beach fishing, as always, but in order to catch decent numbers of fish, some local fishing guides were targeting groups of small to medium fish that would hole up under mangroves on the higher phases of the tide.  The size of these fish ranged from 18 to 30 inches but, when found, could provide good entertainment. On some days, a short stretch of mangrove shoreline would yield 3 - 4 fish. The most effective approach was to scatter a dozen whitebaits around the perimeter of a likely bush and wait for the a blow up or a bait jumping clear of the water.  Throwing on either usually produced a quick strike. Going forward, increased efforts will be directed at the larger beach fish. Almost all deep swash channels, shoreline structure such as rocks or bushes, or man made jetties will hold fish. To catch the largest fish, stay as far away as possible, offer a variety of baits, and give fish time to bite as it may take multiple presentations to trigger a strike.

 Large Snook

With the last of the larger seatrout preparing to leave local beaches, redfish would be the next most available target species. The beauty of a redfish is that it always wants to eat, which can be welcome relief on some days after throwing at large snook that seem reluctant to do so.  A few large schools of fish are around but constant movement to a variety of locations has produced the best results.  Several fish from multiple locations can add up to a productive day. Cut pinfish, thread fin herring and ladyfish have been the baits of choice, although live pinfish should always be available. Fishing mangrove shorelines during the higher phases of the tide has continued to be the best approach. Cut baits, fished with a heavy split shot, allow the angler to cast accurately into these shorelines and the weight will hold the bait in place, preventing it from drifting into mangrove roots or other hang ups. Aside from improving casting accuracy, cut baits are difficult for undesirables (like pinfish and small snappers) to remove from the hook, giving time for the bait to soak long enough for a redfish to find it.  That said, most baits thrown near a redfish are consumed almost immediately. 

Big Summer Inshore Redfish

Tarpon have been available in local passes and along the beaches in decent numbers for the last three weeks. The best opportunities are generally during the first and last few hours of daylight as fish are less bothered by local boat traffic however groups of fish can be spotted through out the day. More often than not, baits are refused, but with a stealthy approach (best to let the fish come to the boat), proper presentation of a live bait, and persistence, willing fish will be found. The best bait would be a small pass or blue crab, but tarpon have been known to eat a wide range of live fish...mullet, grunts, pinfish, thread fin herring and pilchards... and are even occasionally targeted using dead bait on the bottom. Good luck and good fishing.

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