NE Florida May Surf Report

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NE Florida May Surf Report


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      April 30, 2023 at 9:56 pm

      Pompano, pompano, pompano! If you are watching surf-fishing reports on social media, this is what you will be inundated with. The spring pompano run is in full swing here in Northeast Florida, and we are loving it! That is, if you can find a beach without seaweed and with clean waters.

      Speaking of seaweed, the sargassum seaweed patch that the news has been warning us all about has been arriving in force over the last few weeks, which can be extremely frustrating for those of us who just want to fish in the surf. If you are not able to escape it, it might be better some days to tie some new rigs or hone your inshore strategies.

      What I have been experiencing is that the water conditions will change from day to day and even from tide to tide. Where it was clean and mostly seaweed-free one day is practically unfishable the next (I know this personally!). And then when you had clean water on the outgoing tide, the incoming might be pulling in globs of stuff, wrapping around your sputniks and line, unearthing them from where you so carefully cast them. Sure, you might still be able to catch a few fish, but you’ll be working hard to accomplish the feat. There’s been a lot happening here at Fishin’ Girl and we have been out there trying to take advantage of this pompano run while it’s here, so I wasn’t able to secure a contributor for this month. But that’s okay, because I have a lot to share with you, so let’s get to it!


      With the changing weather patterns from spring to summer weather, we have been having more thunderstorms, so remember that when it is stormy weather, the shrimp boats may not be running, which means that your local tackle shops could be selling out of their live shrimp before you get there. Call ahead so you don’t waste a trip.

      If you’re like me, you are out there before the shops even open, so grab them a day ahead and make sure your bubbler has a strong battery to keep them alive overnight (and don’t put too many in the bucket at once; they will die if they don’t have enough room). Sandfleas are finally making a comeback, and while I have not been personally catching them, I know plenty of people who have been finding them. It seems the best time to get them is closer to high tide. However, most of the fish we have caught are feeding on coquina clams, and their stomachs are full of them.

      You’ll always want to have a good stock of your favorite artificial bait, with many flavors and colors to try to see what the fish are biting on. Lately for me, Fishbites and Fishgum are both working, just not at the same time. So if you’re not getting bites with one type, change things up and try something different. I hear that the mullet are running by the thousands in the rivers, so they should be hitting the beaches soon, bringing bigger fish chasing them in the surf. Things should get even more exciting as the tarpon run will be
      starting sometime in May and lasting into June.

      Weather and Water Temps

      Water temps have been steadily rising now and are almost in the mid-70s range on the average. We should have 3-4 more weeks of the pompano run here before the water gets too warm and they migrate north, so take advantage of the run while it is happening. Watch the fishing reports and GO WHERE the fish are! One of the last times I was out fishing I was trying my luck at local beaches and got skunked because of the seaweed, realizing that if I had gone further south, I wouldn’t have left the sand emptyhanded.

      If you have been following Fishin’ Girl on YouTube or reading these reports in the past, you will hear me talk about an app called “Magic Seaweed” that I use all the time for looking at current and forecasted conditions in the surf. I got notice that on May 15th Magic Seaweed will not be available anymore and instead you can use the Surfline app to get all of that information. It may take a bit to get used to the different format, but it is crucial to use an app that gives you accurate tide information and water temperatures. If not, you will not realize when the slack tide is happening, or you might be targeting the wrong fish for the current water temperature.

      May Strategy

      We have been seeing some ladyfish being caught in the surf, which tells me that summer is on the way. We have been catching a lot more black drum on average than usual in the surf.

      As usual, make sure you are staggering your lines when you set up to see where the fish are running. Throw a line in front of the sandbar, on top of the sandbar, and right behind it. If you are at high tide on a low-impact beach, just go ahead and walk out to the first sandbar and cast from there (make sure you have enough line on your reel so you don’t get spooled). Sometimes this will be the only way you will get your bait out where the fish are running.

      To help with the seaweed situation, try removing the beads, floats, and any other extras to your rigs other than your bait. All those increase the opportunity for the seaweed to get caught on your line. If you notice seaweed building up and “riding” up your mainline, shake it off. This movement could also elicit some bites if there are fish nearby and your bait isn’t covered up with sargassum.

      My big tip for May is if something isn’t working or you are not getting fish because of seaweed, MOVE! Stay connected and build relationships with other surf anglers in different areas up and down the coast. You never know when you might need to ask them about their waters to escape horrible fishing where you are at. (Plus, it’s fun to go fishing with other people and make new friends to swap fishing stories with!)

      I hope this has been helpful and thanks for reading! Tight lines!

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