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May Means Grouper Season

Tina Robertson and Captain Judy Helmey (red shirt) display a fine catching affair. On the old fish cleaning table there is some nice spotted sea trout and flounder!
Tina Robertson and Captain Judy Helmey (red shirt) display a fine catching affair. On the old fish cleaning table there is some nice spotted sea trout and flounder!

Although the spotted sea trout has been a little unpredictable during the months of March and April, May is the month that changes everything! By the time May rolls around, the spotted sea trout bite is joined up with the flounder bite meaning two types of fish for one type of bait.

Inshore
As always, live shrimp under an adjustable float or popping cork works like a charm. However, if you wanting to get your bait closer to the bottom but not right on it, an adjustable cork will do just that. The reason being is that you can adjust the depth fished so as to keep your cork floating properly up right.

The bottom line when presenting bait this way is spotted sea trout will find your bait and the flounder can see it. If it’s artificial lures that you are looking to work instead, I suggest purchasing yourself some “Straight Jacket, Jr.” (made by Boone lures and I just love that name!) The best working colors have been Chartreuse, Pearl and Root beer. All I can say, “This lure is proven by plenty of fish, and whatever you do don’t forget you dip net!”

Savannah Snapper Banks
Offshore fishermen get excited in May because “Grouper Season” is in the wide-open mode. The season for our area (Savannah, Ga.) is May 1-Dec. 31. For more up-to-date fishery regulations, visit www.safmc.net/ (always check for current regulations, because you would be surprised how much they change!)

This is the month where gags and scamps exercise their right to make a move to feed. As far as what’s best to use for bait, I suggest the nervous bait such as live cigar minnows or Spanish sardines, which are easily caught on just about any type of gold hook sabiki rigs. The secret is to use sabiki bait rigs made with #6 to #8 size hooks laced with fish skin. Once these styles of hooks are dipped into the water, baits cannot resist the gold flash or the secret smell delivered.

Another method for getting a solid grouper bite is by “jigging,” which has been working quite well for me. As far as best colors, cigar minnows or Spanish sardines “look alikes” have been the catching deal.

The secret to jigging for big grouper is to drop to the depth where the fish are holding and then work your jig by raising and dropping your rod. This basically works your jig about 4 to 5 feet up and down at the same depth. I call this working the “Strike Zone!” Once hooked up, this area is better known as the “Striking zone!”

As far as top water fishing at the banks, anything goes from king mackerel to dolphin. The means your really never know what might bite you hook. When moving from spot to spot, I try to always put out some sort of a swimming lure. Or a ballyhoo rigged on three 5/0 “J” hooks in a row also works. I suggest pulling this bait naked, meaning no skirt needed.

Gulf Stream fishing
The blue waters of the Gulf Stream can certainly offer lots of action during May. Water temperatures to the west of the stream are still cooler, meaning the edge is still strong.  The bottom line is to look for temperatures breaks and you will find the fish.

The dolphin bite is normally the best during this month. You can catch them pulling small to medium rigged baits right on the surface. For those that don’t want to rig ballyhoo, there is another option. I suggest pulling “old school” birds with artificial squid in tow.

And last but not least: Once you find a school of dolphin, I suggest stopping and pitching to them. You can use small jigs with screw tails, squid on a hook, cut ballyhoo on a hook, or you use small live baits. Believe me it all will work!

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