If youíre the type that loves blacking out the live well with perfect sized pilchards before starting your fishing day, then this is the time of year you have to love.
Hoards of pilchards have settled into our area and collecting them has been easy.
When the winds are out of the east thereís no easier way to nab the oil rich baits than to throw your cast net right along the beach. Look for the bait to be holding just a few feet off the beach, which may require you to hop out of the boat at low tide. Itís been no problem to average a couple of hundred baits per throw this past week.
When you canít get them there, chumming them with a combination of jack mackerel and tropical fish food along deep grass flats just inside the pass has been easy as well.
Spanish mackerel fishing has been excellent over the past week, both inshore and off the beach. Inshore, find deep grass patches in 4-to 6-feet of water and chum the fish up with live pilchards, when the tide is moving strong the action has been non-stop. Speckled trout are also mixed in with the mackerel, most have been under-sized with a few keepers, the bigger fish will move onto the flats as the water continues to cool.
Offshore, finding the schools of Spanish has been easy. Watch for the birds and the mackerel can be seen busting the water below.
Anchoring and chumming with live pilchards and a frozen chum block will bring the fish right behind the boat, also have a heavier rod rigged up with a double stinger rig so that you can quickly hook up one of the smaller mackerel and slide it back out under a balloon. Plenty of big kingfish were caught this past week and Spanish mackerel is their favorite food.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper and online, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to email@example.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.