May was a good month for fishing in Southwest Florida. Snook, redfish, seatrout, & tarpon were targeted on Quiet Waters fishing trips – run out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. Sight fishing was the focus of fly fishing charters throughout the month. Larger snook and juvenile tarpon were welcome sights on night dock light trips.
Many snook have moved to the passes and beaches, but there are still plenty of snook to target on the flats. Our higher tides are giving snook plenty of water to sneak far into the mangroves, so targeting them before the tide gets too high is imperative. It’s extremely difficult to coax snook out from the mangrove labyrinth where they have plenty of food and safety.
On fly trips run during the day we found the DT special and other hackled baitfish patterns to be the most effective. The floating minnow fly is still catching plenty of fish and is a good option for luring snook out and away from the mangroves. At night, the reliable JT clouser is still catching plenty of fish. With larger snook around, we’re using larger EP baitfish patterns more frequently. Shrimp patterns and glass minnow/fry patterns as small as size 6 are still effective situationally.
Redfish have been fairly reliable targets on inshore sight fishing trips. In general, they are less spread out and in fewer places then they were just a few months back, but where you find one there should be others not far away. We’re finding varying sizes of loosely schooled redfish with the fish spreading out to work sections of flats and mangrove shorelines. We are still seeing singles and doubles, but much less frequently.
Targeting reds with baitfish pattern flies has been effective. Unweighted and sparsely tied traditional saltwater patterns have worked well. Flies that land softly spook less fish and usually have natural movement even when they’re not actively fished by the angler. Redfish have not been as deep in the mangroves as snook on high tides and have been receptive to the right presentation.
The deep grass is holding plenty of sea trout. Find the ladyfish and bait and trout won’t be far away. Seatrout were a bycatch for us in May. Most of our seatrout were caught while sight fishing for tarpon on the inside over grass. Soon water temperatures will begin to reduce the feeding window for seatrout and anglers will do best to get out early if they would like to target them. Our seatrout regulations are changing.
Tarpon season is in full swing. Anglers can find tarpon in a variety of locations right now. They’re off the beaches, on the inside, in rivers, and on dock lights. Water temperatures continue to increase and that will begin to have some impact on flats fishing as we get later into summer.