Monsters of May

by Capt. Bobby Manske

Monsters of May

Well, it's May already; probably one of my all time favorite months to fish here in the Marathon area, aside from the other 11 months. May, in my world, is the time of year for monsters. Offshore, big dolphin (mahi mahi, not Flipper) are on the prowl and we'll be looking to beat last year’s big bull of 61 pounds, as we do every year. My personal best,  or biggest, is 67 pounds, but, really, any fish over 50 pounds is a big win, considering we are fishing with light tackle--25-30 pound spinning tackle.

FishMonster Magazine-May/June 2016Monster tarpon have invaded our area inshore waters around the world famous Seven Mile Bridge and Bahia Honda Bridge. The silver king (tarpon) regularly exceeds 150 pounds and, again, this is live bait, light tackle fishing at its best. Early morning, or late afternoon/early evening are the best times to catch these monsters off their guard.

Then, there is the ground game, or bottom fishing; another one of my personal favorites. With the exception of dolphin, from tarpon to grouper,
monster snapper and permit, tactics and tackle are critical. I know what you’re thinking. Where is he going with this? I'm going to try to enlighten you.

You don't need eighty pound line to catch a fish that weighs between 20 to 150 pounds. In fact, I'd be surprised if you catch anything at all. The water, as you may have noticed, is very clear in our area. And my, what big eyes our fish have--a big tarpon has eyes the size of coffee cups, and permit and mutton snapper have big eyes as well. Ray Charles can see eighty pound leader material in our water--so can these fish and they will avoid it like the plague!

Here are some tips that will surely help you achieve your goals of catching those trophy fish.

  • Big bait, big fish = wrong; elephants eat peanuts. Big fish, big hook = wrong; I catch 20- 50 pound fish on any given day with a hook no bigger than my thumbnail.
  • Sailfish (90 pound):  4/0 light wire; circle hook ten feet of forty pound leader to a Bimini twist to 25 or 30 pound mainline on your spinning rod.
  • Tarpon (150 pound):  7/0 light wire, 1x strong 50 pound max leader; Bimini twist to 30 pound mainline spinning reel.
  • Permit (20 pound max--usually 15-17 pound):  use a 3/8th's jig head and live crab.
  • Big muttons on the wrecks:  30-50 pound leader again, 4/0 live bait hook.
  • That 61 pound bull dolphin we caught last June:  25 pound spinning tackle with a fifty pound leader.  As I said, dolphin don't care too much when they are fired up, but the hook size, a 5/0 mustard 9174 live bait hook is effective.

So, let's break it down.

  • Fish can see well; get light on your leader to get the bites. Yes, you will break off some fish, but you will have ten times the bites and hook ups.
  • Matching the hook size to the bait, not the fish you are targeting, is critical. If you have a small bait with a big hook, your bait will not act or swim right; yes, the fish will notice.
  • Leader selection:  I could write an entire article on this, but I won't. Fluorocarbon vs. regular leader--there is a time, no, place, for both. I use both; more Flourocarbon on the wrecks and reefs.
  • Line color:  For clear, clean water, use clear line. For dusty, green water, light tinted green leader. You get the idea.

The monsters of May await. Remember, get light to get the bite!




Capt. Bobby Manske
Capt. Bobby Manske

Author

Captain Bobby Manske owns and operates Aikatsi Sportfishing out of the Marathon, Key Colony Beach area. He has over 30 years fishing in the Florida Keys and specializes in offshore, reef and wreck fishing, live bait sailfishing and tarpon. You can reach him at 305-481-1118, or go to his website www.captbobbymanske.com.



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