Let’s be honest here – May is about one thing, and one thing only, for Southwest Florida anglers:


That’s right – ’tis the actual season to be jolly, because the silver king has arrived en masse for the most wonderful time of the year.

Thanks to a severe west wind the last several weeks of April, we’ve gotten a late jump on our tarpon season, but that just means we didn’t have to go through any “false starts” to the migration – the fish are here, there is an abundance, and they. Are. Hungry.

First up, we’ll talk about the beaches, which is my bread and butter. Pods are roaming up and down the beaches from Venice to Naples, anywhere from 50 yards to 2 miles out. The best bait is whatever bait you can get in front of these fish – rarely is a crab turned down, but pinfish, whitebait, threadfins, squirrelfish, mullet, and even catfish will produce jumpers.

I tend not to anchor on the beach, preferring to drift while watching for schools, then jockeying into position with my trolling motor to intercept the fish . . . Remember, intercept means “to be in a position to cast to” – not “to be in a position they will need to swim under” – I see a LOT of boats make this mistake and put the school down.

Most mornings, I will drift from Englewood south almost to Boca Grande Pass – right now, our best day this season has been 13 hookups, and our best “to the boat” day has been 7 landed – those numbers should be eclipsed over the next 3 weeks as the bite gets even crazier.

Although I don’t fish it, Boca Grande pass is already stacked with fish. Do not try this on your own – better to hire a guide to learn the madness. Both holes are loaded, and the surface fish are driving folks crazy by not biting anything (this is a Boca Grande phenomenon – you will see hundreds of fish frolicking on the surface, but they will rarely feed – the hungry fish are deep in the holes – don’t waste your time on the ones you see).

Not to be outdone, the big snook are entering the passes, making this one of the best times of the year to get a trophy fish picture. The females are gorging themselves on big bait and resting for the spawn – think “easy” when trying to catch these big girls – they don’t want to chase something down, preferring a large chunk of cut bait or an oversized pinfish weighted near the bottom. As always, make sure to take great care in handling these fish – they are the brood stock for our next generation, so out of the water for a quick picture or two, then take your time reviving her.

Trout fishing is still going off all over the harbor. Whitebait or small pinfish under a cork seem to be a sure thing, and we’ve seen trout up to 27″ . . . Redfish are a little spotty right now, but are beginning to settle into their summer pattern (high tide – under the mangroves, low tide – prowling the flats) – if you can find them, they’re happy to eat anything you put in front of them.

Tripletail are still hanging around the crab pots, although we haven’t seen anything of any size . . . A few cobia have been hanging around the bridges and off the beaches . . . All in all, there’s not a much better time to fish Charlotte Harbor than the month of May.

What are you waiting for? We still have a few openings this month and in June – shoot me an e-mail travis@gasparillacharters.com or on social @travisthompson or check out our website at gasparillacharters.com


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