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There has been a run of beautiful weather, and the fishing is keeping pace. Rising water temperatures have really kick-started the season and we are headed into May with a full head of steam as fish are hitting hard both inshore and out in the ocean.
Last weekend, the piers reported their first decent catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Blues and Spanish are targeted from the planks with pencil plugs like that old pier angler’s favorite, the Gotcha. Blues are known to like plugs with red on them, while Spanish react favorably to the shine of gold or silver.
Despite the preferences, it is inevitable at some point during a pier fishing trip you’ll see a guy using a pink glowing Gotcha, or similar offbeat–looking plug, catching fish. Strange colors or color combinations can sometimes get fish to bite when traditional color combinations fail. A lot of predator game fish are out there now reacting to the flash of baitfish in the water, and they don’t always follow the usual patterns.
However, some truths can usually be counted on, like the fact that blues (and many other species) will often stage a good bite at daybreak and just before sunset. Spanish really do seem to prefer a lure with a gold or silver body over a plain white one.
When either species is really hitting, though, they will often nail whatever is in the water. This is especially true of the bluefish, who remain dangerous even after you have them up on the pier due to their sharp teeth and the way they thrash violently.
The jetties are holding lots of redfish and some big trout for the boaters. The best bait right now is live shrimp, usually fished under a float. They’ll also hit mud minnows or finger mullet, as well as various soft lures. At inshore spots like creek and inlet mouths you can throw a MirrOlure for specks early in the morning and you may luck into a feeding school.
There are tons of black drum out there, and they are hitting cut shrimp on the bottom. You want your shrimp to be as fresh as possible to attract more bites and hold the hook longer if pinfish start nibbling your bait.
Black drum are around the bridges and docks as well as the pier pilings. If you are on a pier at night, try for them right beneath your feet, since black drum tend to hit even better after dark than during the day.
A lot of flounder are around now, but most of them are under the size limit of 14 inches. Next month should be a better one for keepers. Flounder hit mud minnows and finger mullet cast, drifted or trolled on the bottom. They can also be caught on live shrimp or occasionally on bottom rigs fished for panfish or black drum. Flounder also strike a variety of lures if you fish them slowly on the bottom. The inshore bridges and docks are hotspots for flounder.
Finally it has been a good year for sea mullet (whiting) off the piers and we should see more spots being caught by bottom fishermen in May. Sea mullet will continue to hit fresh shrimp and more folks will be using bloodworms or artificial bloodworms hoping to add some spot to the cooler.
A lot of baitfish are in the water now, and you should be able to catch bait in your cast net. Don’t discount the potential of small pinfish you can catch in your net. Although finger mullet are a reliable bait for almost anything, small lively pinfish are actually very good for targeting larger flounder and big trout.
As the weather gets hotter, the best fishing will begin occurring in the early morning and in the afternoon just before sunset, and you’ll be able to have good success fishing after dark. It’s been a good year so far, and with Spanish and flounder really starting up, May should be the best month yet.