Captain Greg's Fishing Report for May 2023
Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Orlando
May is probably the most cooperative month we have for all the species we have to target out of Canaveral. In this report I am going to go through the game plan for a successful trip and what species are hot like a typical report and for those who want to read more, I will lay out some issues and shed a little light on the challenges we face these days with offshore fishing.
Mahi in May is something to get excited about. Let’s forget days of long ago when you would consistently put 20 plus nice mahi in the fish box a trip. Unless you’re going to the back side of the Gulf Stream or luck up on something floating that’s stacked this big days are not going to happen. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth going. Read the water and don’t run right past them thinking you need to go far. Flying fish are going to be your ticket to finding fish. If you’re running offshore and you start kicking up flyers in 60ft, 100ft, 120ft, 160ft wherever it is definitely worth putting your trolling gear out and giving it 30 minutes once you have a full spread. Don’t be lazy, put it all out, teasers, downrigger, all of it and be prepared to deal with seaweed. You have to earn these fish but once you get that first one work that depth until you stop kicking flyers. You will get rewarded by the end of the day with a respectable catch.
May is tuna time. Trips to the backside of the Gulf Stream always seem to pay off with the nicest yellowfins of the year. A lot of fish between 40 and 80 lbs are caught along with a lot of nice mahi, other tuna variety’s such as black fin and ski pots plus you get some shots at marlin if you choose to settle in for a long battle.
Bottom fishing in May is nice because grouper are open but just like the mahi if you think you’re going to see grouper like you did 15 yrs or more ago you are not. Fish big baits and small bottom is your best chance for success. Almost all the bottom spots are loaded with sandbar and bull sharks but especially the bigger bottom or bottom with lots of fish. No matter what you do the sharks are going to eat 50% if the grouper you get turned but bouncing around smaller bottom helps. A PHENOMENAL day of grouper fishing is gettin 10 shots. Out of 10 shots if you get 5 of them not to break you off right away that is good. Out of those 5, if you get 1 to 3 of them past the sharks you have done very well. This is gag grouper I’m talking about. Red and scamp grouper are also around but sparse, however to do have a much better chance at getting those species past the sharks because they fight way less.
Live bait trolling and bottom fishing structure 100ft or less is in my opinion the most fun to be had. This is just a numbers game. Use chicken rigs, drop big baits on big rods, fish flat lines on the surface, set up mangrove snapper rigs, float live baits down on spinning rods with knocker rigs. Just do volume. You’re going to break off a lot of fish. Goliath groupers and sharks are going to eat a lot of your fish. You will release a lot of red snapper and small grunts, and other reef fish but at the end of the day you will have a mixed bag of desirable fish and you will have had a lot of action and fun.
Lots of other specific styles of fishing such as deep drop fishing for golden tile fish or daytime sword fishing will also yield good results for those fisherys.
May is a great month so manage your expectations and go have a pile of fun.
What people need to understand about the fishery along the East Coast of Florida from North Florida to Jupiter. We are being severely mismanaged by NMFS. It is clear they do not care about what the fisherman have to say and they do not care about the public’s enjoyment of the resource. They don’t spend time on the water, they take their info from data that is about as inaccurate as could be and make decisions.
When you are in the business of fishing, wether it be For Hire Charters or Commercial or even if fishing is a hobby you frequently do and are passionate about there is a sentiment of being be down and defeated in the air. This is a large population of people that all feel the same way but nothing is being done.
Red Snapper are off the charts and they tout extended red snapper days in the Gulf, we are lucky if we get 2 days at 1 per person. When you look at the big picture Atlantic commercial fisherman don’t have it any better. Recreational and commercial need to quit blaming and fighting each other and they need to collectively take on NMFS. Not being able to harvest a small amount of red snapper per trip for a majority of the year is absolutely destroying us and it puts a lot of pressure on other species that are not as abundant and severely limits where you can fish. We can’t get around the red snapper. NMFS is not listening to reasonable regulations that would fix this problem and ensure the red snapper stocks continue to stay healthy.
Sharks are the next big problem. The public has been fed a line of propaganda for at least 25 years now that sharks are endangered or the evil shark commercial fisherman cut off the fins and throw back the poor shark to die. This might have been and possibly still is true for other parts of the world. Not true for sharks in US waters that are not highly migratory. Yes if you don’t believe that the creatures that live in the ocean are a resource to be harvested then we should just leave everything alone but if you believe that you really shouldn’t be reading this report. We have to move past that stigmatism of killing large sharks. They are a sustainable resource when properly managed. Sandbar sharks and bull sharks are both very abundant. Sandbar sharks are protected species and probably always will be because NMFS won’t listen so anglers have to decide on their own how to handle that problem. Bull sharks are not protected but they are very large and hard to deal with. Commercial fisherman don’t target them because the commercial value on large sharks is worthless and shark fin sales have been banned all together. How stupid is that? Let’s harvest the meat but let’s just waste the most valuable part because we want to take a stance. Fisherman have to get inventive on how to start harvesting these bull sharks and make sure the population is controlled but also not being wasteful.
Goliath Grouper is another species that has made an amazing come back like red snapper but instead of celebrating and enjoying the success of this come back we are facing a problem. They are everywhere in shallow to mud range water and eat everything you try to real up. Slot limits have been suggested to help control the population and make sure the stock stays healthy but again the NMFS does nothing.
For those of us in the business, charter, commercial, fish houses etc. The amount of paper work reporting, government over reach and just overall BS is staggering. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface on how flawed and wrong it is. I honestly cannot recommend for anyone to get into this industry in this area. Even if you have grown up in the environment and it is your passion, your soul, you need to run away and turn your back on it or you need to prepare yourself for a fight that you are way behind in. It is truly sad what it has become.
If you are a recreational fisherman or a tourist that wants to have fun out fishing on the water in this area and you read this all the way through. Don’t be disheartened. We still have a lot of fun and catch a lot of really nice fish. The fun level you will have is going to be top notch. Sharks, Goliaths and everything else is super cool and super fun. Your expectations of a fresh catch dinner and memory’s with picture of big fish will happen. It’s just a little different fight and approach for those of us who live it.
Tight lines everyone and we would love to see a leader emerge to charge this fight against NMFS. I don’t feel I have the energy for it but I would for dam sure be a strong ally in your corner.
About Captain Greg's Reports and Forecast
Captain Greg has been fishing the waters of Port Canaveral and the Atlantic for over 30 years. He has the largest and most highly rated private charter business in Port Canaveral, Sea Leveler Sport Fishing Charters. Greg and his team of full time captains fish well over 200 days each per year. We have kept detailed catch history for every trip ran since 2010. You can access this history at www.sealeveler.com/reports. His engineer wife, Amber, has analyzed the catch history along with other historical data such as water temperature and weather patterns. Greg uses his fishing experience and knowledge along with his wife’s statistical analysis to bring you the best fishing report available for Port Canaveral. Greg will give you the honest truth on how the fishing has been along with his best prediction of what to expect by using all of this information.