Coastal Outlook for May 2017 | Great Days Outdoors

May Is Wonderful Month for Coastal Anglers

May is a wonderful month for all outdoors folks. So many things are growing green. The air is fresh and the fish are biting! While the red snapper anglers are still on hold, there are multiple options to bend your rod. Whether catch, photo and release or catch and fry … May is truly a great month for coastal anglers!



Anglers looking for a wall-hanger speckled trout still should have that option, as specks continue spawning activity in shallow areas near drop offs. Theodore Industrial Canal remains a great place to target the huge spawners because of the presence of salty water throughout the winter. This is due to the depth of the canal and its deep turnaround basins. Salt water, being denser than fresh water, makes it heavier and likely to be on the bottom in most scenarios.

Big specks will inhabit the shallows of the Theodore Canal banks early and then recede to greater depths as the sun becomes bolder. During that low-light period, it is best to ply the waters with topwater offerings, such as a Skitter Walk, Top Dog or a Zara Spook. Chrome colors with a black back are best, but chartreuse with a silver belly is right behind!


May is also a good month to target speckled trout at Gaillard Island in Mobile Bay. The riprap that surrounds the island allows the waters to warm up quicker in May, due to the radiation effect of the rocks collecting the rays of the sun. Subsurface plugs, like MirrOlures and Mirrodines, work well along the rocks. Live shrimp under a popping cork will take the specks as well.

“White trout will start to make a strong showing this month around Dauphin Island.”

White trout will start to make a strong showing this month around Dauphin Island. The multiple manmade reefs towards the west end of the island will hold white trout as well as school-size specks. Both will hit grubs when aggressively feeding. Otherwise, live shrimp will be the bait of choice.

You can also encounter some nice puppy drum on the reefs closest to Katrina Cut. The rocks along Katrina Cut can be hot at daylight and until the sun rises above the horizon. Use soft plastic grubs fished along the rocks for best results.



Many anglers along the coast are itching with desire to head offshore in May. One such angler is Vince Resso of West Mobile. Resso, a former city of Mobile law enforcement officer, looks forward to May as sort of a warm-up period prior to the opening of red snapper season. The extremely shortened red snapper season has made catching the beautiful fish a losing proposition, due to all the regulations placed on anglers in federal waters.

“It does not make any financial sense to target red snapper with all the tight restrictions in place. When out fishing offshore you see six or seven anglers on a boat, splitting expenses, trying to make the trip worthwhile. Otherwise, the only time you see many folks offshore is during the weekend tournaments,” Resso said.


In May, Resso will catch live hardtails for bait at the close-in gas rigs. He will use those to target red snapper and amberjack on the tanks (public wrecks). In state waters out to nine miles from shore, the recreational red snapper season runs from 12:01 a.m. May 26, through 11:59 p.m. July 31 with a 2-fish daily limit per person. Each snapper must be at least 16 inches long to keep.

“We like to fish with live baits on the tanks in 100 feet of water. You can run into red snapper, amberjacks and grouper. Move out a little farther to the rigs in 130 feet of water and you will hit grouper, amberjack, and of course, red snapper,” Resso said. “If we are targeting lane snapper or beeliners (vermilion snapper) for the ice chest, we downsize our tackle and baits. We use a two-hook rig (see video tutorial) baited with small pieces of squid.”

While Resso and others complain about the high cost of a fishing trip versus the amount of fish people can legally keep, he does have a story that not many people can tell and smile as wide as he does.

“We were fishing on some structure and catching plenty of snapper and throwing them back. After unhooking a 2- to 3-pound snapper, I noticed a reward tag on the fish. We put that snapper in the livewell and headed in shortly after that. We then went straight to the resource station to produce that fish and the tag. Much to my surprise, the tag was worth $250! That will put a lot of gas back into the boat,” Resso said.

Even the kids get in on aggressive May bass. Photo by Mike Thompson


May is a month that bream anglers look forward to on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Many kids have been broken into fishing while catching the feisty bream. While fishing along the banks of almost any shallow bay can pay off in finding bream, most delta anglers chose to target structure in shallow water to locate a bed of bluegills. Look for openings in the grass lines and pay close attention to any stick-ups you encounter. Once you find either of these, you should probe the area with a cricket or wiggler.

The remnants of old duck blinds are also great places to target bream in May. Drop your baits along the outside of the blind first and then try to lower your cricket or wiggler into the interior. It pays to use wire hooks in this situation, as you will hang up often. The wire hooks will bend straight with steady pressure, allowing you to bend the hook back without having to re-tie.

If you have access to a farm pond or small lake where you can walk the bank with a pole, May will be your month for great bream angling. Dropping wigglers or crickets under a cork can result in panfish ‘victory.’ If you have an ultralight rod, you can tie on small spinnerbaits like a Road Runner and catch some of the bigger bream in the pond or lake.

“Be sure to concentrate on any wood you encounter, no matter how small.”

Some bass will still be cruising the shallow grassy bays near the Mobile Causeway this month. You’ll need a pretty good high tide to swim your spinnerbaits over the grass where the bass will be lurking. You may even have to resort to swimming lizards or worms through the grass to access the bass. Culprit tequila sunrise and junebug colors work well.

Out along the rivers of the delta you should concentrate on the mouths of ditches and creeks leading into the rivers. Running a shallow-diving crankbait across the mouth of the creeks should result in bass success as waters warm. Be sure to concentrate on any wood you encounter, no matter how small.



May is an awesome month to be on the water along the coast. Whether salt or fresh, there is a species out there ready to test your skills. With temperatures mild, it is easy to forget about the burning sun. Be sure to wear sunscreen and be safe on the water,

See you out there!



Important Information

Deer River Bait and Tackle (Live shrimp on Mobile Bay)


Road Runner spinnerbaits


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