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Local water temperatures are now holding in the upper 60s, and that has really kicked the fishing season into high gear. So far the biggest news has been the consistent action on large chopper bluefish. This is the best May I can remember for folks hauling in the big blues. In addition, almost any other fish you want to target is out there and active.
The bluefish bite I wrote about last week has remained strong and carried over into the surf. Surf casters are getting into the blues using cut bait. A chunk from any fish you catch—bluefish, silver perch, pinfish—is fine as bait as long as it’s fresh. Pompano are also starting to show in the surf if you’re fishing cut fresh shrimp, and you can still catch sea mullet and puppy drum there.
The piers continue to report steady action on the bluefish. Small snapper blues (which are the best bluefish to eat) are being caught on the Gotcha-style pencil plugs. The big chopper blues, in the 5- to 9-pound range, are hitting live bait on king mackerel rigs.
The piers have also reported their first king mackerel of the season. Meanwhile, boaters just offshore are reporting nice catches of Spanish mackerel when trolling.
The piers are also still seeing consistent action on sea mullet, in addition to more pompano and the ever-present black drum. Both the sea mullet and the black drum are staging bites at night if anyone remains around after dark to catch them.
Inshore the flounder bite is stirring but hasn’t quite taken off yet. The water temperature is about right, but the keeper flounder have been slow to respond so far, although a good many throwback flounder have been caught. Everything points to the flounder fishing as the next big thing.
There is still action on puppy drum, specks and a lot of black drum roaming around the bridges and docks. Fishing with live shrimp, minnows or lures will take these fish. Mud minnows and finger mullet from your cast net are good baits right now, and they will catch a lot of flounder once the flatfish really start to hit.
In addition to the flounder, the other fish that hasn’t staged much of a run is the spot. Bottom fishermen have had a very good season for sea mullet and black drum, but the spring spot have not really materialized.
The next few weeks should continue to feature strong fishing for bluefish as well as the arrival of better flounder action and more pompano. The water temperatures will continue to make pier and surf fishing great options, and fish should bite best in the early morning or just before sunset. All of the inshore fish should be very active before the really hot weather arrives.