May around Wrightsville Beach in my mind is when “summer” fishing really gets going. Warmer days and most important less wind, we hope! May brings new fish species to target and also the fish start to settle in their summer locations. Here are some of my favorite fish to target during the month of May around Wrightsville Beach.
As the weather stabilizes and the temps go up in May we see a lot more days where we can get out in the ocean and look for those high speed, and good eating Bonita in earlier May (even later April this year) and Spanish mackerel all May long. These fish are a lot of fun to see busting the surface of the water and even more fun to see on the end of your line! Casting small spoons or using fly gear in weights six to eight can make for a great challenge on this light tackle. Look for these fish to be hanging around near shore artificial reefs, ledges and inlets. Trolling Clark spoons and small deep driver lures can be the key to success some days for the Bonita and Spanish mackerel. When using the Clark spoons, I would recommend the pink flash spoon in sizes #00, #0 and #1; the pink flash series has really helped me put more fish in the boat. You might come over a few False Albacore and Bluefish mixed in with the Bonita and Spanish from time to time; sometimes too many bluefish mixed in!
Redfish and May go hand and hand, this month is a favorite for casting artificial lures to them. Reds really start to settle down in their summer spots by early May. Casting Berkley Gulp Shrimp in three inch size on light jig heads is one of my go to baits for May Redfish. My go to colors are sugar spice glow, new penny, Rootbeer gold/chart tail and natural. Saltwater Assassin Sea shad lures in colors copperhead and 10W40 chart tail work well too. Another fun way to catch Redfish is casting top-water plugs like MirrOlure’s Top pup or the new Poppa Mullet. You can also cast popping or rattling corks in these shallow areas with a Berkley Gulp three inch which will catch the Redfish too. If you would rather go the bait route; try some fresh cut Mullet or Menhaden on a light Carolina rig. Try fishing fresh cut bait around docks in the ICW or along creek mouths when the tide is moving.
May is a great month for gator (bigger) Speckled trout; some of my personal largest Specks have come in May! Most of the bigger trout I see in May come off top-water plugs. My favorite is the MirrOlure Top dog, She dog and Poppa mullet; these noisy baits really make the trout come right out of the water after them! Another great bait for bigger trout is the Berkley Gulp five or six inch Jerkshad in colors pearl white and new penny; rigging on light swim-bait hooks. Live Shrimp, small Mullets and Menhaden on float rigs or very light Carolina rigs will also catch those gators!
By mid May the Cobia start to show up around Wrightsville; one of my favorites! I forecast that the Cobia will be here a little early this season. I look for Cobia around inlets, shoals and bait schools; near shore/offshore reefs and ledges are also a good place to look too. With the water being so clear it has been easier to see those brown logs in the water. We are throwing big jigs (Blue water candy), swim baits and live bait to the Cobia. Color really does not seem to matter; but “go bright”! When I’m not sight casting for them, we are fishing around inlets, shoals and near shore artificial reefs. I float fish, bottom fish and kite fish in these areas with live menhaden, blues, pinfish and mullet as bait. Sometimes a great bonus fish when fishing for Cobia is a nice bull Redfish. You can chum if you like, but the sharks and rays will come and they will come in numbers!
With the warmer weather the Flounder will finally start showing up in better numbers, there are still a lot of smaller ones inshore, but the bigger ones will really start showing up in May! Most of the Flounder fishing I’m doing is just off the beach and around the inlets. I’ve caught Flounder on both live and artificial baits in May, what I have seen is more numbers on live bait, but more keepers on artificial baits. Mud minnows on light Carolina rigs with #one L42 Eagle Claw hooks will catch the numbers of Flounder. Berkley Gulp Jerkshad in five & six inch sizes will get the most keeper Flounder. I rig these Jerkshad on 1/4oz, 3/8oz and 1/2oz, 3/4oz (ocean) jig heads with longer hook shanks in red or gray color.
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels 2000, 2500, 3000 and 4000 sizes. Rods: PENN Battalions 6’6” and 7’ Med-light and Medium rods. Line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in ten and fifth-teen pound. Cobia Reels PENN Fathom 20LW or 25LW casting or Clash & SpinFisher V in sizes 5000, 5500, 6000 or 6500 spinning reels, with a PENN Rampage Jigging rod 50 to 100 pound class.
Thanks for reading and good summer fishing to you!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Tackle Elite Staff
Ranger Boats Pro Staff