Florida Fishing Report - May 10

FreshwaterCentral Florida?Bass fishing on Lake Toho is outstanding right now. There?s still a lot of big fish?like the 11-pound, 12-ounce bass caught last weekend?being landed by anglers fishing the outside grass lines and lily pad fields with live shiners. Lots of 8 to 10 pound fish are being taken every day. For those looking for action on artificials, work the grass in 2-4 feet of water with Sweet Beavers and Horny Toads rigged weedless on 50 pound braided line.Bluegill and shellcracker have moved into the shallows of Lake Kissimmee, Lake Toho and the entire Winter Haven Chain of Lakes. Shellcrackers leave beds that look like bomb craters, and you target those fish with live worms. For the bluegill, it?s hard to beat a live cricket, although a lot of anglers like to fish fly outfits and small yellow or black popping bugs. Look for the beds in 2-6 feet of water over hard sand bottom.Lake Okeechobee? Bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee continues to be the best anyone has seen in 20 years. Lots of fish, big fish and consistent fishing are what everyone is talking about. It?s starting to warm up, so the best action has been early in the day fishing the maidencane or lil pads with Assassin Logger Toads, or fishing the potholes in the grass with a Die Dapper in Junebug color rigged Senko style. Live shiners fished along the grass at King?s Bar and First Point are producing 30 fish per trip right now.Bluegill and shellcracker have moved into Nubbin Slough and the Indian Prairie Canal, with limits of fish being taken on red wigglers. The panfish are just starting to bed, and there are days when the fish are so concentrated you can smell them. The best fishing has been in the middle of the day when the sun is up and it?s easy to spot the beds.SaltwaterFlorida PanhandleInshore? In Destin, trout and redfish action is consistent in the bay over the grassy areas using soft plastics. The Gulf side of Sandestin is producing cobia and pompano. In Navarre and Gulf Breeze the redfish and seatrout action is picking up on the flats for anglers working topwater plugs at first light, then changing over to soft plastics in New Penny color as the day heats up. Look for the trout in 2-4 feet of water of scattered grass.Offshore? Calm Seas allowed anglers to fish offshore this week, with the Spur holding some blended water and no real color changes or rips, but the floating weed and debris has been holding dolphin, wahoo and tripletail. The Steps have a nice color change with billfish on them, as do the rigs, which are producing billfish and plenty of blackfin and yellowfin tuna. The best tuna fishing has been at night, although boats trolling ballyhoo during the daytime are catching a few fish.West Central FloridaInshore?Water temperatures are heating up to 80 degrees so the best flats fishing has been early in the day. Tarpon are running the beaches in small schools from Siesta Key to Stump Pass, with live crabs or live theadfins the best baits. Fish to 180 pounds have been caught. Inside Sarasota and Tampa Bays, seatrout, bluefish and redfish are the mainstays, with live pilchards the top bait, along with topwater plugs and dark colored soft plastics. Lower Tampa Bay, Tarpon Spring and Homosassa are also producing good numbers of redfish and trout, mostly on white bait or Nuclear Chicken Assassin 5-inch jerkbaits.Offshore?Spanish mackerel are the main target offshore from Tarpon Springs, with silver spoons or live pilchards catching Spanish to five pounds. Limits of fish can be found around the diving birds. King mackerel are being caught in the mouth of Charlotte Harbor on live blue runners slow trolled during the incoming tide. Most of the kings are under 25 pounds, but a 38 pounder was caught there on Mother?s Day.Southwest FloridaInshore?tarpon are migrating along the beaches from Marco Island to Boca Grande large lipped plugs and live threadfins are taking fish to 150 pounds. Don?t be afraid to fish mullet on the bottom around the schools pushing inshore. There are days when the fish are not eating well, but repeatedly casting at the schools with live baits will usually produce a strike. There are also permit from 15 to 30 pounds traveling in the same areas, with live crabs the top baits for the permit. Tarpon will also take the crabs.   Offshore?Kingfish are thick from Sanibel to Charlotte Harbor over hard bottom in 40 to 55 feet of water. Most of the kings are under 20 pounds, but there have been some smokers caught in the last week. For the most part, slow trolling with live blue runners, threadfins or pilchards on a #4 wire stinger rig with #2 treble hooks will get the bite and keep the short-striking kings from cutting off your baits. Mangrove snapper fishing is outstanding on the wrecks for anglers dropping live pilchards on 20 pound tackle.Florida KeysInshore?The Upper Keys are experiencing the best tarpon fishing they?ve seen in years, with live crabs or mullet the top baits around the Channel 2 and Channel 4 bridges. Just about every trip is producing multiple hook-ups, and fly fishermen are doing well out on Buchannon Bank using Lemon Drops. In the backcountry, tarpon are laid up and eating flies, redfish are up on the flats tailing to the east of Flamingo, with a shrimp and jig combination taking up to 20 fish a day right now. Seatrout are all over in 3-4 feet of water straight out in front of the Flamingo Marina, with soft plastics like a Bass Assassin Stinky Pink 4-inch Shad with a 1/8 ounce jighead taking up to 100 trout per day.Offshore?May is a great dolphin month in the Keys, with captains reporting schoolies and gaffers to 30 pounds being caught daily right now from Key West to Key Largo. Start in 400 feet of water and cover ground watching for diving frigate or ha-ha birds. Yellowtail snapper action has been outstanding, but you need at least 100 pounds of chum. Limits of yellowtails are coming on squid, pilchards and  ballyhoo chunks. There are also some permit on the shallow wrecks to 25 pounds, with live crabs the top bait.Southeast FloridaInshore?Snook and big seatrout are the targets for inshore anglers fishing live mullet, Rapala SkitterWalks in silver and black or Copper Juice colored Assassin Sea Shads with a 1/8-ounce jighead. On the outgoing tides the fish are concentrated in the larger potholes of the Indian River south of Fort Pierce, with trout to 12 pounds being caught. For the big snook, work the seawalls of the Indian, St. Lucie and Loxahatchee Rivers at first light with live mullet or topwater plugs. The first tripletail of the spring run have shown up, with the channel markers of the Intracoastal holding fish to 15 pounds. Live shrimp or a chartreuse jig are the best baits.Offshore?The big dolphin finally showed over the weekend, with fish to 55 pounds caught off Stuart and Fort Pierce on live threadfins or trolled ballyhoo with a pink skirt. Look for the fish on the color changes and weed lines in 90 to 800 feet of water, and watch for diving birds. Boynton Inlet has a run of big kings taking place, with fish to 50 pounds or more being caught in 100 feet of water on live sardines. Grouper season is open, and anglers fishing the reefs in 150 feet of water off Fort Pierce are landing black and gag grouper to 25 pounds, along with a few red and mutton snapper. The red snapper have to be thrown back.East Central FloridaInshore?Warming weather has brought small tarpon into the Sebastian River, which along with snook to 25 pounds are eating live mullet freelined along the shorelines on a 50 pound fluorocarbon leader and 5/0 circle hook. Topwater plugs fished along the shorelines from Vero Beach to Titusville are catching seatrout to 10 pounds along with schoolie redfish. The big reds are on fire in the Banana River south and west of Cocoa Beach High School, and also around the Pineada Causeway. Crabs and mullet are the top baits for the redfish, some of which are topping 40 pounds.Offshore?The big three?kingfish, dolphin and wahoo--can be found in 120 to 300 feet of water from Sebastian Inlet to Port Canaveral. The key is to cover the water column with surface baits and a swimming mullet down deep on wire line. The wahoo and king bites are coming on the deep lines, while the dolphin are up on top. Grouper anglers are finding blacks and gags accommodating in 160 feet of water throughout the region, with fish to 40 pounds being caught on live grunts, croakers and Williamson Speed Jigs. Cobia are still being caught along the beach on chartreuse jigs.Northeast FloridaInshore? The spring run of pompano is taking place from Daytona Beach up to Amelia Island, with sandfleas, clams or shrimp the best baits. Look for the fish on the beaches just outside the breakers. Spotted seatrout action is red hot in the Intracoastal for anglers fishing a Drunk Monkey colored Assassin 5 inch Shad under a rattling cork. Use 15 to 20 inches of 20 pound leader, cast the cork/lure combination out, pop it a couple of times and let it sit. Repeat until you have it back at the boat and cast again. The bites will come when the cork/bait are pausing or sitting still.Offshore? Dolphin action has been very consistent off St. Augustine in 140 to 240 feet of water for anglers trolling ballyhoo with a green or blue and white skirt. Look for the fish along the weed lines or around any floating debris. Most of the dolphin have been under 20 pounds, but there are some bigger fish being caught. For bottom fishermen, the artificial reefs off Mayport are producing grouper to 20 pounds or more. Live pogies have been the best bait. Bottom fishermen are also catching red snapper to 15 pounds and a lot of sea bass, both of which have to be returned until the season opens.
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