May 2020

By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors

Around the state:

The word is out:  Fishing all over the great state of Florida is exceptionally good.    With world issues:    People are not going like they normally do.    Will the heat of summer come early for those of us central and south or will May be a mild month?   It should not matter.   Water temperatures will not elevate until June and May should have some of the best fishing stories of the year.    I’d say that May should be one of the best months of the year.    Then, November will be the next month to wait on.    The fish are always there, they are just more active certain times of the year.      May should be one of those active months.   Read on to see what is in store around the state for the month of May:

The Tampa Bay region– 

Outstanding action in our region will remain excellent throughout the month of May.   The usual action would include snook but for the tenth straight year, I will not be offering them as an option for my charters.   Charters are not regular.    The coronavirus stuff:   I lost every out of state trip.     People not traveling and only certain locals wanting to go, it is a lot of time hanging around.    I am doing better than most guides.   It isn’t dead, but it isn’t active in what is historically my “busy season.”

Having a few more snook around is not evidence of a recovery.   Ten years later, we are still fighting to get things back to where they were.    Better management, we would be there by now.     Still, deciding whether to catch a snook or leave them alone is a credible decision.     The likelihood of dolphin eating a released snook makes it better to avoid the species altogether.    There will be another push to reopen this species to harvest come September:  You will not hear me support that if they want to push that through.

The species that are doing the best they have in years:  Flounder.   Unbelievable!   The action for flounder is as good as I have seen in years.   Not in in huge numbers but they should continue to get better.   The major Red Tide in 2005 and ’06 crushed this species.   Slower to recover than the speckled trout, the past three years have not been good but to start out April, more big flounder have been caught in the past three weeks than we caught in basically all of the last three years.    The 12 Fathom 3-inch Mullet, SlamR and Buzz Tail Shad are tremendous baits for flounder.   Put them on a 1/8-ounce jighead and move them painfully slow.   

Trout and redfish will also be the mainstay targets of May.   Toss in some pompano fishing late morning and we have the recipe for some great fun in the month of May!   The number of pompano caught on the flats is also evidence, as it is with the flounder, that it should be an exceptional year for pomps.    I use the 12 Fathom “BLING” Mullet or the Silly Willy (yellow) with a teaser (pink) for pompano.  

Redfish and trout action may shift to “early and late” depending on the weather cycles.   The hotter it gets, the better the action in the low light periods.   With mild patterns, the action should be decent throughout the daylight hours but probably getting tougher “Noon to Six in the afternoon.”  Six to ten in the morning.   Six to ten at night.    Best action.   With both species closed to harvest, their numbers are the best they have been in many, many years.

In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing: 
May usually is a good month to fish. The weather is typically
settled and front-free. I anticipate good redfish action on the flats and off
the sands bars, along with a few snook and spotted seatrout. Snook will
increase along the beaches and they will be around dock lights at night.
Seatrout are always available over the deep grass patches along the east and
west sides of Sarasota Bay. In fresh water, I anticipate good action bluegill,
bass and channel catfish.

The East coast of Florida, It would be interesting to see what would happen over here if species were closed to harvest like they are on the west central coast.    We could use some help of some kind.   Our fishing is decent but it would be great to do things that would make it even better.    Just a thought.     Big drum and redfish are possible any day you go out.     King mackerel are an option offshore “if you hit them right.”     Flounder, possible, again if you get in the right spot.     May is a great month to go!   Get out there.  

In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway on the Wakulla River:  http://www.tnthideaway.com/ .   If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers:  http://sunjammers.com/ .    Great opportunities for just about everything we have.   The fish that spend the winter down south are here.   Mackerel, easy.     Bluefish, here.    Trout:  Always a good option.   Flounder, pretty good if you know where to go.   

In Northeast Florida: Excellent time of year.   It is warm, but not too warm.    The action has been great for trout and flounder.    Very big fish caught.    The offshore game has been very good.   Not as many people doing it as there could be but the guys who know what they are doing are having great catches offshore.   One that is hanging on but will fizzle as it gets hot:   Sheepshead.   Crabs or live shrimp, if you know where to go, sheepshead are a great option. 

In the greater South Florida area:

Things are great in South Florida.   The weather.   The species to target.   It is all great for opportunities for the kayak angler.   We have snook and other inshore species.   We have the offshore targets for those with the right equipment and knowledge.    Too many people are taking risks that they are not ready for.   To get out into the deep water and fight offshore species, you should have a safety plan in place.        Wearing a life vest is simply not enough.    Can you successfully achieve a deep water re-entry?   Do you have your gear secured so you do not lose everything when you flip over?   Do you know how to handle an angry fish in a tiny boat?   For those who have the right skills, this is a thrilling way to try out some extreme fishing.    Our kayak anglers get some exercise, catch some amazing fish and have some great stories to tell.    But this kind of fishing is not for the beginner.   Inshore:  Tarpon and snook are very good options.     Bonefish at the Keys.    By kayak, you have to have the right plan.   The launch, and the path to the fish.  

The tip of the month:
The heat of summer is back, like it or not.   For so many months, we could get away with being less prepared with extra drinks and tricks to stay cool.    Bring way more water than you expect to use and drink it regularly.   In winter, you wear water repelling clothing to stay dry for a very good reason:  To stay warm.   With the heat of summer arriving, there is a very big trick to avoid overheating.   “Stay wet, stay cool.”    At the beginning of a day, before the sun is even up, I get in the water to get my pants and the bottom of my shirt soaking wet.    This is air-conditioning on the water:  The damp clothing will make it feel much cooler than if you are dry.    If you do this, you may feel a lot better at the end of the day and possibly not have to drink quite as much water.   Hurricane season coming up, buy about ten cases of water.   Put some in your car and store the rest at your house.   Water is a great item to have sitting around in all locations.     Just do it.  

Need help learning how to kayak fish?   Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!   Steve Gibson:  The Sarasota area and Neil Taylor in the Tampa Bay region.  

Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor, www.capmel.com site administrator

Neil Taylor

Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding.Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed www.capmel.com and eventually became that web site’s owner.
Neil Taylor

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