Gulf of Mexico
Shark fishing in the nearshore Gulf has been off the charts. Water depths of 30 to 50 feet have been hot for adult blacktips, big sandbar sharks and some unstoppably big bulls. The spring mackerel run has been mixed with good numbers of Spanish mackerel but as of this writing (around May 1) the king mackerel run has been sporadic. Hopefully this fun fishery will settle in as the month progresses. Fishing on nearshore artificial reefs has been good with mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, cobia and the ever-present Goliath grouper keeping things interesting. Permit will be arriving in numbers on these sites this month too. Further offshore, in water starting at about 65 feet deep, mixed bag bottom fishing for red grouper, lane snapper, porgys and other reef fish is good. Amberjack season opened May 1 after a six month closure and these hard-pulling fish are swirling around wrecks and reefs starting in about 75 feet of water.
May has historically marked the beginning of the SW Florida tarpon season but this year the fishing really started perking up in early April. Boca Grande Pass rightfully gets a ton of attention since it is the center of the tarpon fishing universe, but SW Florida anglers are lucky to be able to find tarpon in many parts of the estuary. It’s also cool that tarpon can be caught in a variety of ways as they are found in the Gulf passes, in the deep holes mid-harbor, under bridges and in the river mouths. Catch-and-release snook fishing heats up in the Spring too and May often offers some of the best snook action of the year as these fish go into a pre-spawn feeding mode. Life is blossoming on the flats all around the estuary so fishing with shrimp over beds of sea grass is a good way to stay busy with a mix of trout, ladyfish, jacks, Spanish mackerel, cobia, bonnethead sharks and possibly a stray bluefish or pompano.