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‘Tis the season for whiting, cobia, grouper
Capt. Judy fishing


If you have been following my fishing reports you already know that this year’s cold water spotted sea trout bite has been very good. And normally I am saying, “The spotted sea trout bite is about to really turn on!” 

However, it really never shut off. 

For those that have had trouble finding a solid inshore bite up to this point, all of this is about to end. Why? With the month of May at bay, the fish bite is exactly more dependable and predictable. 

In our fishing world where we get to fish all of the time, it is no wonder that we catch the fish at least most of the time. And as you all know, them fish don’t bite all of the time. 

However, if you fish all of the time or not but keep records, it is much easier to know their whereabouts. Believe me, during colder water times if you don’t fish a lot and can’t get a handle on the whereabouts of live shrimp, then you’re catching troubles are many. 

During this time, live shrimp can be caught holding on mud banks, deeps holes, backs of creeks and of course at the bait shops. The best news is that May is our best month because everything that swims puts on the old fish feeding bag.

By the time May rolls around, the spotted sea trout bite has joined up with the flounder bite, meaning two types of fish for one type of bait. 

As always, live shrimp under an adjustable float or popping cork works like a charm. However, if you want to get your bait closer to the bottom, but not right on it, an adjustable cork will do just that. The reason being is that you can adjust the depth fished (close to the bottom) so as to keep your cork floating properly upright. The bottom line when presenting bait this way is spotted sea trout will find your bait and the flounder can see it. 

If it’s artificial lures that you are looking to work instead, I suggest purchasing yourself some Berkley Gulp Alive baits, which come in all sizes and shapes. The old saying, “The secret is in the sauce” comes into play when using this line of artificial baits. These styles of artificial baits have been proven by the wants of many fish and fishermen.

For those that just want to go fishing, I suggest giving bottom fishing in the sound a try. The whiting bite has been pretty good and should continue well into June. I suggest bottom fishing around mud and sand bars in anywhere from 10 to 30 feet of water. 

Believe it or not, but the old whiting can be found in both shallow and deeper water. I always suggest fishing every chance you can while not letting the tides be your guide. However, whiting bite is better with the least amount of current. So the two hours before until the two hours after the tide turns is going to be the optimum time to get your best bite. 

As far as bait, this fish love small pieces of shrimp fished directly on the bottom. Please remember this is the only fish that I know that peels its shrimp before eating them. So feel free to peel some just to see how that bite goes. 

If you get a bite and miss it, reeling in and finding a shrimp shell on your hook is a very common thing. It will be up to you whether or not you want to go into the peeling your bait mode or not! Other great baits are small pieces of fillet of fresh whiting with or without added small pieces of shrimp. Please remember, when the bite slows, change your bait and give that a try. Sometime using just shrimp or just small pieces of fish will turn the bite back on. Heck, if that doesn’t work put both baits on the hook at the same time.

As far as the best rig to use when targeting whiting, I suggest a Caroline style. This rig should be made with appropriate size egg sinker that will hold your bait on the bottom and a small thin tinned hook. It will be up to you whether or not you want to use a circle or Kahle style hook. 

I mostly use small circle size #2 (or smaller) thin tinned hooks Eagle Claw circle L 197 hooks when targeting whiting. 

Artificial reefs

The bottom fishing can be very good at this time of the year at the artificial reefs. Best bottom baits are cut squid and fillet of fresh fish. These baits once put on or near the bottom get the fish’s attention. 

The black sea bass, trigger fish, summer trout, flounder and other bottom biters love the option of a free meal. Any small fish that you catch, I suggest lip hooking them on a beefed up Carolina-style rig and sending them right back to the bottom. 

With a live bait offering, you could find yourself catching anything from a large king mackerel to a big gag grouper to an early arriving cobia. Grouper season is now open through Dec. 31.

As far as top water bite, the Spanish mackerel have arrived. You might not see them, but they are here. Best places to troll are going to be over and around structure. 

For those fishermen that don’t want to troll lures, I suggest pitching spoons or any sort of glass or cigar minnow imitators over and around the structure. If you happen to see a few Spanish catching air (jumping), I suggest working the area while pulling small to medium Clark spoons at different depths. 

While circling the structure and around any sort of surface live bait or jumping Spanish mackerel, you also could find yourself catching king mackerel, barracuda or little tunny. 

May is cobia month 

The month of May means a lot for the top water fisherman, because it is the cobia season at the artificial reefs. During this time, the allusive cobia arrives along with its various ways for driving fishermen crazy. 

The reason being is this is a fish that sometimes bites and sometimes they don’t. Here’s the thing, you can see them, and they can see you, but sometimes bites don’t happen. So it is best that you try to trigger a bite. 

Best live baits are juvenile black fish, pinfish, cigar minnow, Spanish sardines, peanut menhaden, live shrimp and eels. The bottom line is these prefect live baits might not work in regards to getting the eating attention of this fish. 

If the live stuff doesn’t trigger a bite, I suggest being prepared with some sort of artificial bait. My go to artificial is a green/white or blue/white 3 ounce jig, which I have threaded on a white eel or some sort of trailing soft artificial bait. This bait in most cases brings on a hit whether the fish is hungry or not. You can find it at

If a cobia comes to your boat, swims around and won’t take any of your bait offering, I suggest casting a jig out in front of the fish’s heading, letting it free fall for about 10 feet, then working it an upward downward motion while not reeling in any line. It is a known fact that this action in most cases can gets the cobia to strike at the jig. Please whatever you do, once in this mode, give the jig time to work. You might not see the cobia, but it will be watching your bait.

When the month of May rolls around, offshore fishermen get excited. The reason being is that grouper season is in the wide open mode. 

This is the month where gags and scamps (grouper) exercise their right to make a move to feed. As far as what’s best to use for bait, I suggest the nervous bait, such as live cigar minnows or Spanish sardines, which are easily caught on just about any type of gold hook sabiki rigs. 

The secret is to use sabiki bait rigs made with #6 to #8 size hooks laced with fish skin. Once these styles hooks are dipped into the water, baits can’t resist the gold flash or the secret smell delivered. Another method for getting a solid grouper bite is by “jigging,” which has been working quite well for us for many years. As far as best jigs colors cigar minnows or Spanish sardines “look a likes” has been the catching deal. 

The secret to jigging when it comes to catching big grouper is to drop to the depth where the fish are holding and then work your jig by raising and dropping your rod. This basically works your jig about 4 to 5 feet up and down at the same depth. I call this working the “strike zone.” Once hooked up this area it then becomes better known as the “feeding zone.”

As far as top water fishing at the banks, anything goes from king mackerel to dolphin, aka mahi mahi. The means you really never know what might bite you hook. When moving from spot to spot, I try to always pulling some sort of a swimming lure, which means just about any will work. 

I like dragging a 6/0 J style 3 in-line hook rig Sea Witch (1 to 21/2 ounce head) lure rigged with a small to medium ballyhoo. The secret to hooking up is to make sure that you have your reel in a medium drag mode, which is not to loose and not too tight. At this drag setting, your fish will get hooked up in a more solid fashion. I like pulling this rig on a standard stand up bottom fishing rod with a 4/0 reel loaded with 50 pound test monofilament line. My father always said, “If you want to snag them you got to drag them!”

For those that want fishing information for fishing from your boat or mine, please give us a call 912-897-4921 or email

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