Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fishing Report MAY 2021
While we had a week of almost constant small craft advisory level winds, the fishing in May was very steady. The trout bite was great, with fish moving between the shallow flats and 5 to 8 feet of water. On the deeper flats, sand trout were mixed in with the spotted variety and provided some additional action (and tasty filets). We had a run of oceanic (smooth) puffers, also called rabbitfish, which happens every few years. Having a large puffer attack a topwater lure is not something we usually see. The really remarkable thing about this past month was the redfish bite. Redfish were everywhere, and especially giant inshore redfish. While we’re used to seeing that in the fall as mature fish are ready to migrate, it’s unusual to see that many big fish in close this time of year. Near the end of the month, I fished with Doug Barrett and we caught 8 nice redfish to 27 inches and several over 20 inch trout in about three hours, fishing topwater plugs and Live Target suspending Spanish sardines.
Offshore, amberjack season opened with a bang and there were some huge fish seen at the cleaning tables. Migrating kingfish and cobia showed up with schools of whitebait and Spanish mackerel season is well underway. Several large tournaments took place with good catches and a big one is coming up in June.
Here are some pictures from this month at the Sea Hag:
Click on any photo to see the full image!
Fishing Forecast for JUNE 2021
The big news is scallop season! I haven’t seen any preliminary reports for our area, but I have seen some scallops in the usual areas this past month. In our Big Bend area, the season runs from June 15th to September 6th. This is the most exciting and busiest time at the Sea Hag Marina, so it’s time to plan your family trips. You need to plan now, because accommodations and boat rentals are filling up fast. For a great review of scalloping in our area, read Capt. Tommy Thompson’s review here (keep in mind this was written several years ago, so the dates are not correct for this year): https://www.naturalnorthflorida.com/blog/bay-scallops-the-best-of-floridas-big-bend/. Almost all of our guides do scallop charters, and for a full day will be glad to do mixed trips: fishing in the morning, scalloping after it warms up, but many weekends are already booked, so plan ahead. If you’re never scalloped before, getting started with a guide trip is a great way learn.
For a look at what scalloping is like at the Sea Hag Marina, watch this video:
As the heat builds during the summer, the best fishing is either early or late. Get out at daybreak, beat the scallopers, and fish near marsh shorelines with topwater plugs for large trout. They tend to be solitary during the summer, as opposed to the smaller keeper trout on the flats that will stay in schools. Those are available as well, using popping corks and Gulp baits. This past month a lot of the flats trout were just at keeper-sized fish, with some slightly larger fish further out in deeper 4 to 6 areas. Look for mixed sand and grass bottom (same as for scallops) and throw into sand holes for the ambush-minded trout. On hot days, or when the scallopers are clustered on your favorite spots, head out to the deeper grassflats in 5 to 10 feet of water and fish jigs with Gulp baits, or even cut bait, to find spotted trout, and try sandy areas in the same depths to find silver (sand) trout. Because they school, drifting across the flats is the best way to find schools of fish. While we used to have to throw out markers to mark spots so we could come back after a drift, now your GPS unit enables you to mark your spot for a return drift easily. Redfish may become more lethargic during the heat, so fish early around structure: rocks, oyster bars, creek mouths, especially in areas with mullet jumping. Fish suspending or topwater plugs. Schools of whitebait are already moving north offshore and nearshore, so look for kingfish and Spanish mackerel. Trolling spoons and jigs near these schools is usually a great way to find some fish.
The other big news is the opening of two seasons for our offshore guides and recreational fishermen. Gag grouper season is open in all the counties in our area in June, and red snapper season opens as well; it differs for recreational anglers and captains with reef permits:
- The 2021 red snapper season for recreational anglers fishing from private vessels in Gulf state and federal waters and charter for-hire operations who do not have a federal reef fish permit (can fish in state waters only) will be June 4-July 28.
- If you plan to fish for red snapper in state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, even if you are exempt from fishing license requirements, you must sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal required) at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
- The 2021 recreational red snapper season for federally-permitted charter for-hire operations will be June 1 through Aug. 2 (closed on Aug. 3).
One of our largest tournaments will take place this month. The Doug Johnson Reeling for Kids event will be on the 11th and 12th, so if you’re not registered and you want to fish the richest tournament of the year, better hurry. There are captain’s meetings in both Gainesville and Steinhatchee. For more information, check here:
We’re looking forward to a great summer at Sea Hag. Our accommodations are filling up and our rental boats are being reserved, so don’t wait too long to make reservations. To make a room reservation call 352-498-3008 & ask for Gail; you can preview our accommodations on our website. We’ve got live and dead bait, rods and reels, and all the tackle, lures and soft baits you will need to have a fun fishing trip. And for the summer, we also have masks and snorkels, dive flags, and everything you’ll need for a fun day scalloping. This is the family time of year and we’re looking forward to hosting you at the Sea Hag Marina.