May Offshore Gulf Fishing Forecast
By, Capt. Dave Pinkham
Are you geared up and ready for some of the most
outstanding fishing action of the year? If you are not, I
would strongly recommend that you get ready. The reasons
for my upbeat outlook are straightforward enough. First off,
in the course of the next few weeks it appears as if we are
in for plenty of good old Florida sunshine. More sunny days
equates to warm weather. Warmer air temperatures mean
rising gulf water temperatures.
Actually, just about any species that swims in the gulf is a
good target during the month of May. Other encouraging
factors for anglers would be that it’s not sweltering hot yet,
and an added benefit is that you don’t have to worry about
dodging the afternoon thunderstorms yet.
All this considered, the month of May is high on my
“monthly get out and go fishing” must do list. Following is
a list of target species to go after while you’re fishing out
the gulf this month.
- Kingfish and Spanish mackerel should still make a decent
showing in the next few weeks. Look for both species in the
areas where you see white baits such as pilchards, Spanish
sardines, and cigar minnows. Live baits will usually out fish
artificial baits so make sure when you have the opportunity
to load up the live well with them. Keeping your lines and
wire leaders as light as possible will help to account for
more hits. Single-strand piano wire for leader material is
mandatory to prevent cutoffs from the big ones.
- Permit should make a showing on area wrecks and reefs
later in the month. These beautiful fish game fish prefer
crustaceans so bring some jumbo shrimp or crabs along. If
you see permit finning at the surface, cast your bait out in
front of them allowing it to fall naturally. You more than
likely won’t need any lead weight on this rig.
- Grouper and snapper fishing is always a dependable
standby on the gulf coast. When targeting these bottom
species consider fishing around a wreck or some good
broken hard bottom. There are plenty of 2-foot ledges
scattered all over the gulf floor so keep your bottom
machine running. When you notice a change on you bottom
graph indicating a rock crevice below, toss a marker jug
and try it. Normally if you hook into gag grouper or
mangrove snapper then you’ve located good structure.
When bottom fishing be sure to put out the extra effort and
keep a couple of livies free-lined out on top. You never
know when a school of kingfish, some mahi mahi, or
blackfin tuna may swim through. As the water continues to
warm up this month, red grouper should make a good
showing. For the keepers concentrate your efforts 20 to 50
miles offshore. Bouncing baits along the bottom while
drifting is a great way to locate these bottom feeders
- Black fin tuna should make a good showing this month in
the 80 to 140-foot range. A good place to start looking
would be in the area of an anchored shrimp boat. These
commercial shrimpers normally pull their trawls during the
night. Often, come first daylight the shrimpers will anchor
down their boats and go to work picking through their
catch, and then throw the by-catch overboard. This in turn
can draw fish such as blackfin tuna.
- Tarpon should make a showing later in the month. Sight
fishing for them just west of area beaches is one favorite
way to fish for them. Once a pod of tarpon is located, try
casting live or artificial baits at them. Some of their favorite
natural foods are crabs, shrimp, threadfin sardines, and
pinfish. Large numbers of tarpon should also begin
showing up in Boca Grande Pass this month. On the falling
tide the Tarpon will be feeding on the small crabs that are
washed out of the bay. Bring along a long handle net and
try scooping up your own crabs.
- Shark fishing for some anglers is about as good as it gets.
For the rest of us, they can sure mess up a good grouper
bite. Regardless of your personal feelings, this is the time
of year to tag into a shark. Lately on just about every trip,
whether we want to or not, we’ve been hooking into one or
another species of shark. To target shark, bring along some
chum and fish a couple of lines up off the bottom while
- Cobia is another fish to target in the month of May. Clearer
gulf water will make them easy to see. Casting live baitfish
in front of sighted cobia is about as exciting as it gets.
Cobia tend to hang around any sort of structure, so when
fishing around these areas keep looking into the water.
- Greater amberjack and giant jack crevelle will be hanging
around the deeper wrecks and big ledges. Healthy live baits
will often provoke fish into hitting that otherwise wouldn’t
feed. Be sure to keep your rigs simple as clear water makes
it harder to get them to hit.
May is one of the best months of the year for fishing on the
gulf. Remember if you’re too busy to go fishing you’re just
too busy! Get out and go fishin cuz’ it’s good fer ya!
Capt. Dave Pinkham has been on fishing guide on the
Southwest coast of Florida for more than 22 years. His
deep-sea charter boat "Legacy" is docked at The Crow's
Nest Marina, Venice. For Gulf of Mexico fishing charter info
call Capt. Dave at (941) 473-4603 or check his webpage,
Capt. Dave Pinkham operates his offshore charter fishing
boat Legacy out of the Crow's Nest Marina and Restaurant
in Venice. For information on a fishing charter please call
941-473-4603, or check
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