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Fishing | May brings fine fishing across Southwest Florida

By CAPT. GEORGE TUNISON - Fishing | May 3, 2024

Capt. George Tunison

Cape anglers are blessed with year-round sport and food fishing for a huge variety of species. Remember those long winter months sitting by the window in your snow white tan watching wet snow cover your boat while videos or magazine articles about sunny Florida’s Lake Okeechobee big bass or Boca Grande tarpon, teased you? You finally made the move and now, pumpkinseeds to permit, tilapia to tarpon, snook to snakeheads, we’ve got a fish for you and your style of angling, all year long.

May 1 has a special ring to it as local anglers know it means the beginning of some of the year’s best fishing that Southwest Florida has to offer, especially for our world famous tarpon. Many tarpon have already moved into our passes especially Boca Grande with Redfish and Captiva passes less crowded hunting grounds.

Don’t care for boat bumping crowded pass fishing? No problem as we’ve got large numbers of silver kings strung out along the coast, as well as on the inside along the ICW from the Sanibel Causeway north through Pine Island Sound.

Other groups of migrating fish will bear right and swim up into Matlacha for a bridge party with yet another group choosing to head up into the Caloosahatchee. Our resident tarpon will enjoy their southern cousins’ spring visit, giving Cape anglers plenty of opportunities to put a big and beautiful, chrome-fish-of-a-lifetime in the air using a variety of techniques.

If you enjoy competitive fishing, gear up for the South Seas Tarpon Tournament at Captiva Island, May 16-17. (www.southseas.com/tarpon)

The catch-and-release snook crowd are also fired up knowing that they won’t have to poke around here and there in the mangroves for hours on end looking because now they’ve got them cornered! They’re all at the beach! Well, not all, but if you’re like most local snook, there’s a good chance that’s where you’re headed for your summer of love. Still there’s a group that for some reason hangs back from beach cruising. I’ve seen huge female snook at the very top of the Spreader Canal in the northwest Cape in July. Who likes crowded beaches anyway, may be their reason.

Cape offshore anglers hope to enjoy favorable winds early this month finding hungry fish in 80 feet and beyond where red grouper and a variety of snapper species await. Other players like permit and African pompano can show up as well calling for a variety of rods to be already rigged and ready to do work at a moment’s notice, along with a ready selection of baits and proven lures, especially for a surprise cobia which could show up anywhere, anytime.

May tarpon and sharks go together like bread and butter and for me, catching sizeable sharks from a staked out skiff in shallow water, on live or dead bait, lures or flies is about as good as it gets. Nothing like seeing a big dorsal fin rocketing away above the water on a drag-burning, blinding speed run in two or three feet of water.

If you want to get serious about sharking, as in really serious, you’re in the right spot as we’ve got sharks so big here in Southwest Florida they can make your bay boat feel small. Is there a 1,000-pound or even larger hammerhead shark swimming in Boca Grande tonight? There’s a real possibility that could be true, maybe tonight or during the coming weeks, so don’t fall out of the boat.

A bigger problem for local tarpon and clumsy anglers would be the world’s most foul tempered, always dangerous bull shark which is swimming in pass waters right now.

Family fun Spanish mackerel are reported from the passes, into Charlotte Harbor, and close along the coast. Troll flashy spoons or chum them to the boat for outstanding, ultra-lite tackle fun.

Donations to recent Midwest tornado victims are greatly appreciated.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or via email at captgeorget3@aol.com.