The month of May is far and away my favorite month to fish here in the Florida Keys. The weather is just right – not too hot, not too cold – and as the water temperatures climb, the fishing heats up right along with it. Both inshore and offshore fishing is productive and more times than not the conditions will determine what style of fishing we will do.
Offshore, the dolphin bite is red hot. Gaffing size fish in the 10-25 pound range have been coming through consistently, especially once the southeast breezes picked up in the middle of the week. Look for working birds and scattered grass to be the best indicators for these tasty game fish.
If tuna is your flavor, the black fins will not disappoint. The humps off of Marathon have been very active as of late with many fish in the 15-25 pound class. Live baits have yielded the larger fish for the most part, but vertical jigging and trolling has also been productive. If you are getting small fish on the jigs, try dropping them deeper but make sure that your reel has plenty of line, because there is a good chance that a big amberjack will hit that jig and spool you.
With all the life offshore, there is a great chance at catching a billfish. While running around this past week, we have seen countless sailfish and even a couple of blue marlin free jumping. To target these fish, you need to spend time trolling. Look for current rips with lots of bait in them as good areas to target.
Inshore, on the wrecks from 110 feet out to 150 feet, large schools of permit make for an awesome angling challenge. We have stopped on our way in from offshore several times this past week and have hooked up every time.
These powerful fish will put your abilities to the test.
A live crab on a jig head has been the most productive, but a live shrimp will work well, too.
Look for the permit fishing to get only better over the next couple of weeks.
While the offshore fishing has been good so far in May, the inshore fishing, namely tarpon fishing at the bridges has really come to life. The Bridges from Long key to Bahia Honda have steadily filled up with the silver kings. I have seen schools with literally thousands of tarpon in them and have had the dubious task of trying to land a double header at the Bahia Honda Bridge.
That was quite a challenge! Live bait around the bridges has been the most productive means of getting bites but artificials and flies will do the trick as well. The bridge you are going to fish will determine which live bait will work best. Your local tackle shops not only have the bait you need but will tell you where to use them.
Best Bet tip of the week: May offers countless angling challenges with some of the hardest fighting fish these waters have to offer. Now is a great time to be on the water, and if you want to avoid the big seas offshore, try tarpon fishing.
Mike, John, and Butch of Indiana were talking all year about catching a swordfish on there next visit to Marathon. With “lucky Joe” along for the ride they landed a 140 pounder. The fish jumped 10 times and John fought it for an hour and 20 minutes.