Monsters of May

Tampa Fishing ForecastMay brings in the heavy hitters. The water temp goes into the mid to high 70’s and big fish  invade the bay and inland waters feed and breed. The big fish in May are tarpon, king fish, cobia, and shark. Below I will give you tips on how to successfully target each one of these May monsters!

Tarpon: Most of our bay area tarpon have made a two month migration up the west coast from the keys. They usually stay and feed and breed for a month or three and then they migrate back south, some go further north before heading back south, we call them “back sliders”. Our tarpon seasons length is determined by weather. The better the weather the more back sliders there are, the more back sliders the longer the season, because they visit the bay area coming and going, so we get two shots at the same fish weeks or months apart. So good weather means a good tarpon season.

Site casting tarpon on the beaches is my favorite type of tarpon fishing. I like to cast live hand sized thread fins at them unless the crabs are flowing, then I like to cast a live crab. Bridge fishing is fun too. I like to fish with “fresh”dead cut hand sized thread fins, not frozen and thawed. Tarpon can tell if it’s frozen, it’s hard to foolMother Nature! Tarpon tip of the year for bridge fishing is chum A LOT.

King fish: Kings are here to feed and breed as well. Nothing is more exciting then to see a giant king fish launch on your bait and shoot 15 feet into the air like a rocket. King fish hang further to the west out in the Gulf of Mexico and some do migrate north and south, but most come from the deep. My favorite way to target kings in May is to slow troll, and I like to troll as slow as my boat will go. Slow trolling won team Ana Banana the King of the Beach Tournament a couple years ago, trolling live lady fish and mullet is my favorite technique. Also try anchoring or drifting with balloons over your baits. Several Captains swear by the kite technique. King fish tip of the year, use as lite a wire leader as you can. Wire leader size is determined by water celerity. Murky water heavier wire, clear water lite wire. Also always use a stinger rig. Over half of our caught kings were landed with the stinger hooks stuck in them. Their strike is so violent it helps to have two hooks on a single line.

Cobia: If you’ve never hung into a huge cobia, definitely add that to your bucket list. Cobia can act dumb like a buck in rut or sly as a fox. In the winter time we target huge cobia’s in and around the warm waters of power plants. We find them riding under rays, manatees, and sea turtles. Starting in May we find them primarily daisy chaining around markers, buoys, poles, shipping channel cans, and bridges. In the winter months we find horse shoe crabs, blue crabs, and stone crabs in their stomachs along with an occasional sea horse, baby bonnet head shark, star fish, or sand dollar. Theory is they hang under big rays, manatees, and sea turtles who sweep the sand bottoms with their flippers, wings, or tails, brushing sand off the baits mentioned above. In May Cobia’s breed. The reason they are daisy chaining around structure is so the male can spread his sperm to the fertile female. Many times in May, you’ll spot two cobia together, one monster and one small one. The females are bigger, with wide heads, males a smaller with narrow heads. Cobia tip of the year, use live 8 inch sting rays for bait.

Fishing Forecast Tampa BaySHARK: Many Marine Biologist agree that Tampa Bay is the shark capital of the world. They say we have the biggest population of sharks and the most variety of sharks. If you like shark fishing visit to find out how to get involved, sponsor, and/or participate in the 9th Annual Phil Pegley Black Tip Shark Shootout Hosted by Hall of Fame legend Wade Boggs to benefit The Pediatric Cancer Foundation. I’m honored to have been the Tournament Director for the past several years and last year our tournament team raised over $25,000 for pediatric cancer research. We’re also proud that our all release tournament provided much needed shark data for Mote Marine Laboratories Center for Shark Research. Dr. Hueter and Marine Biologist Jack Morris trained us on how to tag all species of sharks caught over 4ft. and record species type, condition of fish, size, sex, and location of catch. It’s a fun filled 21 hour tournament an awesome fish fry at Sunset Grill, live entertainment and a kids fishing derby at Hooks Waterfront Grill, and a beautiful venue at Little Harbor Resort. We have great raffle and auction items, and thousands of dollars in prize money. Shark tip of the year, please help us take a bite out of pediatric cancer.

* For a charter with Captain Joel visit or call 813-267-4401 or visit him in person at Hooks Waterfront at Little Harbor Resort. NO FISH NO PAY! Ask about our hook n cook special, YOU HOOK EM! WE COOK EM!