May brings changes to catch-and-release species

As we transition from spring to summer you can expect fishing to heat up around Anna Maria Island.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is stellar on the flats right now, and will soon be hot along the gulf beaches. As we progress through the month of May, the snook will migrate from the mangroves and back country to take up residence along the passes and beaches in preparation for their spawn. Catching snook along the beaches is especially exciting because you are sight-casting to the fish. What makes this even better, is you get the opportunity to sight cast to some large fish — some 30- to 40-inches.

Beach fishing for linesiders allows you to use fairly light tackle because there is no structure to contend with. This means the large fish can run up and down the beach and never find anything to cut your line on. This being said, they still have razor sharp serrated gill plates so there’s still some luck involved in landing a big snook.

Another occurrence in May is the arrival of tarpon. You’ll most likely see our residential fish showing in Tampa Bay in the beginning of the month and, as we near June, you’ll begin to see the migratory fish along the beaches. If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to break out the tarpon gear and make sure everything is up to par. When dealing with large fish, such as the silver king, you want to make sure your tackle is operating at full capacity as these fish will put it to the test.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m concentrating on spotted seatrout. Free-lining live shiners over deep grass flats is producing decent numbers of these popular fish. Sometimes when the bite is slow, I’m adding a split shot to the rig, which seems to put the bait right in front of their nose and will trigger a strike. While targeting trout, I’m seeing Spanish mackerel and ladyfish, which adds a nice variety to the bite. On the shallower flats, catch-and-release snook action is good. Free-lining live shiners around mangrove shorelines is producing some great action, especially during high tides.

On a conservation note, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has decided to keep snook and redfish closed to harvest through May 2020. The same now applies to spotted seatrout. Catch-and-release snook and redfish is already in effect and spotted seatrout become catch-and-release on May 11. This new rule applies to waters south of the Pasco-Hernando county line through Gordon Pass in Collier County.