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Many fish spend May on the move

May is a month of transition for many fish.

Tarpon have begun the long migration north in preparation for their spawn in July. The majority of these fish will travel within a quarter-mile of the beach, so plan on seeing numerous schools as the weeks progress.

Kingfish have just about finished their stay. A few still can be caught in 60-plus feet of water, but there's nothing to get excited about. The main push is arriving in the Panhandle.

Snook have started to flush out of the inner bays and can be found loitering around any structure close to the beach. The swash channel that contours the beaches also is starting to hold good numbers of linesiders.

Gag grouper are easing their way west as the water temperature begins to heat up. The majority can be found at 90 feet or deeper. On the other hand, red grouper have moved east, meeting the gags at about the same depth. This allows the best of both worlds for grouper die-hards.

Barracuda are invading local wrecks with a fury. Thousands of these toothy gamefish are making a summer home and providing some great action.

Sharks can be found at all depths. Several species have arrived, including one of my favorites, the blacktip. Not only do they put up a mighty fight, but they are one of the best table fare. As the water temperature climbs, so will the numbers of these cartilage fish.

Even the baitfish have made a transition. Massive schools of threadfin herring have pushed their way from the deep, up against the beaches. Spanish sardines are working east and are settling on most of the artificial reefs 10 miles from shore.

The great part about this month is you never know what's going to bite.

Here's a tip for this weekend: The first three hours of daylight have been the most productive. Crystal clear water and a full moon phase will hinder midday action, so try and get your day started before the sun gets too high.

_ Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276.

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