Spanish mackerel fishing is only getting better with each passing week. Hard-bottom areas within a mile of shore are holding good numbers of fish.
Try Sand Key, Blind Pass and Redington. They should all be holding Spanish mackerel as well as the occasional cobia. Also, the artificial reefs from 3 to 10 miles out are also good places to target. On a recent snapper trip to one of the near-shore reefs we had the snapper and the mackerel chummed up behind the boat. Although only a few baits made it past the mackerel to the snapper it was still really good fishing.
Upon returning from our trip offshore we decided to try for some trout along a deep grass flat just inside the pass. The tide was moving in quickly and packs of terns were dipping on schools of small fry bait. It definitely looked promising.
After tossing out a couple of handfuls of frisky chummers it didn’t take long for the water to begin to boil. There were trout anywhere from 12 inches up to 18 inches popping up all around the boat. As we caught trout after trout all the while continuing to chum to keep the bites coming, we managed to lure in a school of Spanish mackerel ranging in size from 18 to 24 inches, definitely our best mackerel of the day.
Catching bait has been good lately. Small pilchards have been staged up right inside the swash channel all along the beach.
These baits are anywhere from an inch and a half up to two and half inches long so I would definitely recommend a quarter inch mesh cast net. It also is a good idea to lighten up your hook so that your bait swims naturally.
A size-1 gold Aberdeen hook has been working great with the small baits and the slightly longer shank than a traditional live bait hook will help to prevent cut-offs from the Spanish mackerel.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.