Although we are only in the middle of the month and even though there were a few hiccups along the way, the month of May has definitely been one of the better ones that anglers have experienced in recent years. Water temperatures are reading in the mid seventies, much warmer than in recent years and the fishing that’s being encountered is proof of how Mother Nature works. Unfortunately the Atlantic bonito, a fish that a lot of near shore anglers look forward to hooking up with each season, made a very brief showing and the bypassed our area due to the warmth, but the other fishing that’s being had has almost made up for it.
Near shore, the Spanish mackerel fishing has been outstanding along the beaches and near the inlets and with the very warm and sunny days being forecast for this week, the early and late part of the days will probably produce for anglers just a bit better than mid day fishing. Boaters trolling Clark Spoons are finding the fish in water depths of around 25 feet. Jigging Gotcha Plugs and throwing small weighted spoons around the outskirts of the Masonboro Inlet Jetties will also elicit some strikes from both Spanish and bluefish if they are around, which normally they are. Pier anglers are also getting some action from Spanish on both Gotcha’s and small spoons.
For those looking for a lot more action, the cobia fishing and catching has been pretty terrific for those in search of them. Some anglers are electing to go the natural route and troll or drift live menhaden around the inlets and near shore reefs and have reported catches of upwards of sixty pounds. Some anglers are dropping some larger artificial baits, such as bucktails and rubber eels around the bait balls running the beach and are also managing to have some luck. Whatever your course of action, if you’re lucky enough to hook into a behemoth and then skilled enough to get it to the boat within gaff range, be prepared. Most anglers have a rubber mallet ready to dispatch the fish as soon as it hits the deck of the boat due to the destruction and injury that they can cause. A cobia, after being gaffed and placed in the bottom of a boat or even in a cooler will play possum but will then seek to break tackle, boat parts and even body parts unless it’s subdued in quick fashion.
For those wishing for a little less excitement but for some fishing action, the king mackerel have been found in pretty good numbers around the five-mile mark with some better fishing for some larger fish being found around ten miles. If anglers can find some live menhaden, it’s a tough bait to beat and will also draw the attention from other species, but remember that catching and keeping a cobia beyond three miles is not allowed.
Bottom fishing in water depths around one hundred feet has been good for grouper, black bass and snapper with triggerfish being found just a little further out. Gulf Stream fishing around the Steeples and Same Ole has been producing some very good fishing with reports of lots of gaffer dolphin and some wahoo along with some decent action from both blackfin and yellowfin tuna. Anglers have also reported some encounters with billfish in those areas.