The month of May is one of the best saltwater fishing months here in the Southern Outer Banks. We have dual migration going on right now; both inshore and offshore.
The Gaffer sized Dolphin (Mahi) fishing during May is world class and second to none. We also have some unbelievable Cobia fishing. IT'S MAY! There is truly something special about Cobia fishing. Maybe it's the aspect of being able to sight cast a bait to them, maybe it's the small window of opportunity. Regardless of what it is, these elusive "Bronze-tinted 18wheelers" are heading through their near shore migratory highways right now in our backyard. It's time to go ahead and pull a few of them over!
Inshore: As previously stated, the Cobia have made their arrival. These fish can be targeted a Maximum of 3 miles from shore (our state water boundary) due to the Federal closure this year. This year NCDMF will be deploying Cobia tags, so all anglers be aware of tagged fish, if you see one, hear of one, or know somebody who has heard of one, go ahead and call Marine Fisheries at 800-682-2632 or report a tag online at www.portal.ncdenr.org/web/MF/report-tag-online
The Cobia can be targeted in two ways. Sight fishing or bottom fishing. If you are sight fishing, look for good bait balls, or any large species swimming the surface, and the Cobia will be nearby. Bucktail Jigs with a large curly tail, or live free lined Menhaden are two of the top go-to methods for sight fishing in our area. If you plan on bottom fishing, make sure to bring some good chum to bring life to your boat. Whole cut Menhaden, whole cut cob mullet, live Menhaden, live blue crab and live eel are all good options. Again, make sure you are not using undersize blue crabs if you go the crab route. Good places to soak baits are any good sand bottoms near an inlet in the 18-40ft depth range.
Now, we are also seeing some of the first early morning big Speckled Trout action on topwaters. These fish are staging in shallow shell/sand bottom areas after dark, and can be targeted with topwaters at daybreak when fish are moving off of the flats/reefs. There will be plenty of slot sized Red Drum in the mix as well. The slot sized Red Drum are moving into the backwaters now, and will reside in the shallow muddy/shell/oyster areas throughout most of the summer. Flounder are now on the move into their inshore summer areas. Places like AR315, Core Creek, and Radio Island rock jetty should have some fish arriving. The bigger flatties will be mostly chewing on live finger mullet. Spanish Mackerel have shown up on the beaches, they can be taken casting a stingsilver, trolling clarkspoons, or you can troll a Yozuri plug for some of the larger fish. Sheepshead are arriving inshore to dock areas and rock jetties; Sea Urchins, Fiddler Crabs, or clusters of Black Mussels will get you a bite. Black Drum in the 5-15lb range will coexist with the Sheepshead and bite the same types of baits. If you are the type to soak a two hook bottom rig from the beach, there have been some Pompano around, as well as Black Drum, Sea Mullet, and a few Red Drum.
Offshore: The gaffer sized Dolphin is really what is going on right now, 90% of the boats going out are after the Gaffers. Pulling ballyhoo is basically all you need to do, look for a grass line if you can find one, the fish are scattered between the 90ft drop all the way on out to the Big Rock. If you are into catching less fish, but want to battle them on light tackle, find a grass line and slow troll a couple live baits up top down the grass line. Heavy spinning gear can be really fun on them. There have been a few Billfish around, as well as some stray Blackfin Tuna. Bottom fishing is still going well with Triggerfish, Beeliners and Grouper being caught. If you are fishing for the Gag Grouper, fill up your live well with some live Pinfish (Grouper hate them), or stop in the store and get some select frozen Grouper baits from us before you head out.
As always, Tight lines from Freemans Bait & Tackle