Here’s what’s going on in the waters of South Florida at the end of May 2018. In these reports our guides address the most current state of their specific fisheries and make short-term predictions based on their own historical experiences. Remember that there are many variables that can affect the fishing from day to day, so use these reports as a general outline to help you prepare for your next trip.
The tarpon are moving in full swing on the ocean in the lower part of the bay. Until this weather deteriorated we’ve been doing extremely well with yellow Tarpon Toads. There are also big tarpon in the deeper water in the northern part of the bay and around Key Biscayne. Dark rabbit strip flies are the ticket here.
With the winds and clouds it can be difficult to fish these tarpon. If we’re having a hard time seeing these fish, we’ll move into the deeper troughs around the islands in the lower part of the bay. These troughs should conjugate clouds of pilchards this time of year and you’ll be able to see 10-50lb. tarpon rolling around looking for a pilchard meal. This is best on an incoming tide near high tide. Similar opportunities occur around the creek mouths on the west side of the bay.
While the bulk of them are spawning offshore, we’ll still get shots at permit along the oceanside points at the lower end of the tide.
The tarpon fishing has been on fire. There are 40-60 pounders all down the gulf. They are feeding on the hordes of tiny anchovies that have moved in. Mixed in with the tarpon are small (12″) mackerel. We’re avoiding the mackerel and still feeding the tarpon by dredging big dark flies. There’s speculation as to why the numbers of these mid-size fish are so high when most of the bigger fish have left. We’re attributing it to a great spawn a few years ago and the abundance of food here for them right now.
There has also been a push of snook along the beaches in the gulf. With a little bit of sunshine we should be able to start sight fishing for them soon.
The water is super tannic in Coot Bay from all the rain and there are good numbers of baby tarpon in there ready to pounce on a popper or gurgler.
Offshore Palm Beach
Seems like we have traded out winter winds for summer downpours. Fishing remains to be at the mercy of whatever type of weather happens to be going on at any given time. Action along the beaches has quieted for the most part, and will probably stay that way until the bait schools show, though you are likely to see pods of tarpon moving. Structure, (rock piles, reef) close to shore may hold a variety of species such as smaller amberjack and juvenile king mackerel, blue runners and spanish mackerel to name a few.
The reef action is heating up nicely with numerous species. The first few large false albacore have started putting in appearances. We had an 18 + pounder a week ago. Blackfin tuna have been good in assorted sizes. The smaller fish, (3-8 lbs) will show at almost any time of the day, but if you are in search of the jumbos, (20+lbs) low light times, (dawn, dusk and cloud cover) are the best bets.
King mackerel have been schooling up in several locations from Lake Worth to north of Jupiter inlet. Some of these fish are quite large with a 77 pound king recorded last week!
Blue and rainbow runners are thick along the reef edge from Palm Beach inlet to Jupiter inlet. There are hordes of very hungry bull sharks, (and other varieties) in this same area. Anything you hook will be gladly eaten by the sharks if you don’t reel quickly enough.
Dolphin numbers have been erratic. Good numbers one day, non-existent the next. In comparison to the last two years, it is encouraging. We may actually have a good dolphin season. They tend to be closer to the reef edge (150-300 feet of water) this time of year, but finding good cover out deep, (500-1000 feet of water) may produce some very good fish. An occasional school of skipjack tuna may be found in this same area. Around the time of the full moon, wahoo have been just off the reef edge in 140 feet – 300 feet of water.
Lake Ida & Inshore Palm Beach
Lake Ida and the freshwater fishing has been slow. The fish are spawning and being difficult. Although we have found some on the beds willing to cooperate. Things should be picking up here real soon.
Even with the freshwater flowing into the intracoastal from the spillways, the bridges in Palm Beach have been stacked with both snook and tarpon at night. The dirty water requires a large fly for the fish to find it. We’ve been having the most success dredging big EP style baitfish patterns. Tide is tricky here, we want to fish the incoming tide but we have to make adjustments according to how these winds are affecting the water flow.