By Neil Taylor

Around the state:  

The tail end of spring seems to always conclude in the central and southern part of the state of Florida by mid-May.   April was a warm month and May will likely continue the trend.   For folks in the Nature Coast, Big Bend and Panhandle: Spring should continue to reign.   The kayak anglers will rejoice in access to great fishing all over the state but it’s time to start becoming more conscientious “weather watchers.”    Gulf moisture combined with higher temperatures translates to May storms, nothing to take lightly if you’re an angler, but particularly those who go by kayak.    In my experiences, some of these storms may be in the morning this month.   June to September all the storms will be after 3PM.   Have your “plan” in place for avoiding perilous situations.    May can be one of the best months of the year:  Before it gets hot.   But during May, it might get hot.  

The Tampa Bay region

You name it: We’ve got it.    Everything either settles in or passes by the Tampa Bay region in the month of April.   A sun higher in the sky but not at peak intensity and the recent return of the hordes of baitfish schools will provide the recipe for incredible kayak fishing action inshore, off the beaches and way inside the Tampa Bay estuary.

Redfish should finally collect in larger schools, something that was expected but didn’t happen last month.   Not in great shape, you are lucky if you can get on them good.  

Speckled trout are going to finally tail off toward the end of the month, but expect them to remain extremely cooperative earlier in the month.   Find the baitfish, find the trout.   As it was in April: Go early or go late. The very best action will be when the sun is low in the sky to the east or west.    Anyplace with bubbled up baitfish or hovering birds will probably have trout in those waters. 

Flounder and pompano fishing will get even stronger this month.   The flounder lagged a little with the delay in baitfish schools crashing into the area.   Pompano fishing has been so-so.  The yellow Silly Willy with a pink teaser “loop knotted” onto the rig will get strikes if they’re where you’re fishing for them.  Try the 12 Fathom 3-inch mullet for flounder but to tempt the even bigger Mamba Jamba flatties, put on the SlamR.   It’s all about “pace.”   Anglers who keep these lures riding just above the bottom will connect with flounder.  Flounder are the big story.  A resurgence after a five year lull.  

The white butterflies are an indication that the tarpon are here.   For the next several months, this species will be targeted around the Pinellas beaches and inside Tampa Bay.   These are big tarpon, many of them older than 80 years: If you’re going to target this species, use the right equipment.    Do it from a boat, not a kayak, and use a rod and reel where you can put pressure on the fish to land it in a reasonable amount of time.  

In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson says:  We look for improved weather conditions, with light winds. If that happens, we expect good action on spotted seatrout, redfish and snook around
Sarasota Bay. In addition, bass and bluegill action should pick up in local rivers and lakes.
Fly fishing for small tarpon should be good in The Everglades. Beach snook action is expected to improve daily and the water temperature heats
up and fish move out of the bays.

Florida East Coast:  No doubt, a surge in fishing activity.  The weather and water temperatures are at an excellent place.   May is notoriously good fishing before the water gets hot.   Give it a whirl for redfish, trout, flounder, black drum and a number of other species that this month brings.   Our No Motor Zone fishing will be very good this month giving the kayak anglers opportunities power boats do not have.     

In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway-   What we have been waiting for for months:  Spring weather!   Recent heavy downpours may hinder the start of the month but expect great action for Panhandle kayak fishing when things clear.   There will be great catches of trout, redfish and flounder.  We will also have our offshore gang hitting up reef species.   Call Rob or Brad to talk over the opportunities around Wakulla and Panama City.      To see Rob’s operation, check out: .   If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers:

In Northeast Florida:

A secret that most of us already know:  May is outstanding fishing around Jacksonville, NE Florida and SE Georgia.  The jackets will be put away for months and our people will be back out in big numbers.   We have great populations of fish and fairly light pressure on them.   Make a visit and fish our murky waters for some fantastic action and very mature fish.   What will you catch?   Depends on where you go.  We have sheepshead, flounder, redfish and trout which are very reliable.  Black drum are also an option if you know where to find them. 

In the greater South Florida area:

April wore out with an explosion in activity.   May will be more of that.   We have great options inshore and nearshore for the kayak folks.   Around Palm Beach the extreme anglers will fish the depths for pelagics.   Around the Flamingo/Everglades are there will be great options for tarpon, trout, redfish and some snook.    Please handle our snook carefully.  They are closed to harvest and we would like to see our fish rebound much better than their current condition.   Leave them in the water more, keep them out of the water less and help that fish be around next May!

The tip of the month:

Invest in weedless jigheads.   I use The Edje.   Floating grasses will be something to contend with during the upcoming months.   Learn to screw the nose of your bait in gently so it holds on multiple strikes and see just how much better you can negotiate the floating weeds, and thick turtle grass, without an exposed hook!

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!

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

Neil Taylor, site administrator

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