Hip Hip Hooray – It’s May!
Ahhh May. You’d be hard pressed to find a charter boat Captain who doesn’t love May.
May is the month when every major fishery in Marathon and all of the Florida Keys really kicks into high gear.
First and foremost is the opening of grouper season in the South Atlantic on May 1. Black, gag and red grouper will be hitting the docks in great numbers this month. If the catches we’ve seen just prior to the season opening are any indication, it won’t be surprising to get grouper over 40 pounds.
Also on the reef, the yellowtail snapper are beginning to spawn, which makes for some of the best flag fishing we see all year. Flags are yellowtail in the 20- to 24-inch range. Every year on the SeaSquared we manage to get at least one or two in the 26-inch-plus class, weighing six or seven pounds – absolutely huge for this species of snapper.
And, the mutton snapper are also beginning to congregate heavily on the reef as well as slightly further offshore on the wrecks and rough bottom patches. When you find the right concentration, it’s easy to put 10, 12 even 20 muttons in the box in a short amount of time. Again, these are some of the largest fish we see all year with more than a few surpassing the 20-pound mark.
Adding to the May snapperpalooza are the mangrove, which are also forming their annual congregation on the reef. Most of these are large, mature fish in the four- to seven-pound category.
The mighty permit are hanging on the higher profile wrecks, with many going 25 to 40 pounds and the occasional specimen exceeding 50 pounds. Permit are highly sought after in the Marathon area and a true test of your angling abilities.
May is when the tarpon are at the peak of their run at the Marathon bridges from Bahia Honda to Long Key. On an average four-hour outing, you’ll see a couple hundred tarpon rolling, and the chances of landing the fish of a lifetime are very good.
Shark fishing is outstanding as their migration peaks in May as well. If you have the desire to tackle some of the largest sharks we have – tigers and hammerheads – now is your time.
Oh yea – the dolphin run is in full swing and, again, with some giants coming through the Marathon waters this month. Blackfin tuna and wahoo add to the offshore action.
So, you’d be foolish to miss out on everyone’s favorite month to fish in Marathon.
If for no other reason, come and bend a rod in memory of the Spanish Fly, Jose Wejebe!
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of the 7 Mile Marina in Marathon.