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Where to Fish in May…


The Salt Water Sportsman editors list the best two locations to go in April for your favorite saltwater species, plus notes for each location about why the bite there is hot.

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: Costa Rica

The deep blue waters surrounding the Hawaiian islands hold more blue marlin this month than any other. Calmer seas off Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast make it easier to detect color changes and the food chain — including birds, dolphins, small tuna and other baitfish — that attracts blue marlin off Flamingo, Tamarindo and Puerto Carrillo.

First choice: Dominican Republic
Second choice: Turks and Caicos

Waters off the northeast coast of the D.R. teem with small blue marlin. While most run under 250 pounds, crews reporting 10 or 12 bites a day won’t raise any eyebrows this month. Much larger blues patrol a few miles off the northwest corner of Providenciales, as well as the “humps” east of the island.

First choice: Ecuador
Second choice: Australia

In May, Ecuador’s famous marlin boulevard is still the best place on Earth to tangle with a black. Most range from 300 to 500 pounds, but considerably larger specimens are always a possibility. Juvenile blacks continue to forage in 10 to 25 fathoms around the Solitary Islands, Australia, where baiting with live slimy mackerel often yields double-digit hookups.

First choice: Dominican Republic
Second choice: Mexico

This month, remarkable white marlin fishing is often as close as a 30-minute run for boats out of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Unless you’re gunning for blues also, rigged ballyhoo or strip baits, both adorned with a colorful skirt, are the top choices. Mexico’s Yucatan Channel continues to offer reliable action with whites for one last month.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Spring sailfishing remains red hot throughout South Florida. Expect Stuart, Palm Beach, Miami and Islamorada to be the top spots, and hit the water early with a good supply of frisky baits for best results. Decent numbers of sails continue to stage off Cancun and Isla Mujeres, but they won’t stick around much longer.

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

While terrific sailfish action is bound to continue for another couple of months in Guatemala, May is historically the last to consistently offer 20 or more daily sailfish hookups. In Costa Rica, rains start in the south and central regions, so seasoned anglers go north to Flamingo and Tamarindo for good sailfishing and drier weather.

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Along the Baja Peninsula, this is a good month to find stripes sunning on the surface, so sport-fishing fleets, including some pangas, venture offshore with a supply of live caballitos or sardinas to tempt the fish. In Ecuador, waters surrounding the Galapagos and Isla de la Plata yield multiple hookups and high numbers of releases.

First choice: Bermuda
Second choice: Mexico

Catch rates spike again for boats fishing Bermuda’s Argus and Challenger banks. Local anglers favor live speedos for bait, but plenty of ‘hoos fall for red-and-black and purple-and-black Ilander lures, especially when rigged with ballyhoo. The offshore banks off Mexico’s Baja coast yield some nice wahoo this month also.

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: Mexico

Ahi, as yellowfin tuna are called in Hawaii, abound in the deep water surrounding the islands this time of year. Many come close enough to land to let small boaters and even kayakers get in on the action. The offshore tuna grounds off Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and other Baja resort towns produce solid numbers this month.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Bahamas

Boats fishing various submerged pinnacles east of the Florida Keys or chumming around anchored shrimp boats on the Gulf of Mexico side continue to cash in on the reliable blackfin bite. In the Bahamas, May signals the start of blackfin tuna season. Expect fish to patrol the edges of reefs in 120 feet or deeper and mount flurries around weed lines in blue water.

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Mexico

May is the top month for bones in the Bahamas as fish of all sizes spend lots of time feeding and cruising over the shallows. Trophy hunters should consider visiting Andros, Great Abaco or Grand Bahama. Ascension, Espiritu Santo and Chetumal bays in the Yucatan are also great options. They produce high numbers, and the average size of the bones has been increasing.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Linesiders, big and small, are accessible and active along both Florida coasts this month. Most continue to ambush mullet and other baitfish along mangrove shorelines near open water or around man-made structures like docks and bridges. Others begin to congregate in passes and inlets. Backcountry lagoon systems in the Yucatan are also good bets this month.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

The annual migrations along both Florida coasts are in full swing. Tarpon like to follow edges and often rest in deep holes and basins, so keep that in mind when you examine charts to identify potential intercept points. Silver kings also continue to migrate south along the Yucatan Peninsula. Bay mouths and major points along the beaches are good spots to find some.

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Mexico

May is considered a prime month to target permit in Belize. The weather is ideal, and the fish spend more time foraging in shallow water. Productive flats abound throughout the region, but fishing pressure decreases the farther south you go. The Yucatan bays of Ascension, Espiritu Santo and Chetumal also shine this time of year, offering lots of shots at tailers and cruisers.

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

The abundance of forage and pleasant weather combine to bring great redfish action to both Florida coasts, where anglers find schools on the grass flats and singles or small packs along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars, jetties and dock pilings. Still, Louisiana remains unseeded as the top redfish destination, with lots of fish in most bays and marshes.

First choice: New Jersey
Second choice: New York

As waters warm up throughout the Northeast, stripers track baitfish concentrations along the New Jersey and New York coasts. Locating bait pods is a great way to pinpoint feeding bass, but it’s not the only alternative. Many of the stripers also focus on lady crabs inside Long Island Sound this time of year, affording great sight-fishing opportunities.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: New Zealand

Broadbill action continues strong off South Florida, where rigged baits and sewn belly strips fished with strobes or Cyalume sticks at night are steadily yielding to daytime live-baiting tactics. Swordfish catches remain consistent in New Zealand waters, where nighttime deep trolling with lighted, rigged squid baits produces better than classic drifting techniques.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Louisiana

With Florida’s water temperatures above 72 degrees, kingfish stocks continue to feed aggressively and increasingly closer to shore. The action often starts at the mouths of major inlets and passes or half a mile from the beach. In the Gulf of Mexico, kings build up in numbers off the Louisiana coast. Fish oil rigs and anchored shrimp boats in less than 250 feet of water.

First choice: New Jersey
Second choice: New York

Schools of voracious bluefish work their way up the Northeast coast this month, and many reach New Jersey and New York waters. Count on finding them feasting on the baitfish schooling along the beaches, and use artificials for nonstop action. Using large topwater and swimming plugs adds to the fun and helps cull out the smaller specimens.

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Bahamas

May brings southeasterly breezes to Florida and pushes the weed lines dolphin seek closer to the coast. Troll along clumps of floating grass early and switch to running and gunning once the sun is high enough for good visibility. Dolphin also find plenty of flotsam to hang around in the Bahamas, especially along the edge of the Gulf Stream.


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