What's hot: Spanish mackerel fishing on the nearshore St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach artificial reefs is as hot as it gets. Doubleheaders and tripleheaders are common when trolling small spoons behind No. 1 planers or trolling sinkers. The use of a short piece of wire leader will save tackle from cutoffs, but it also will appreciably reduce the number of strikes from these sharp-eyed speedsters. We have been using 40- or 50-pound test leader between the sinker or planer and the spoon and have lost very little terminal tackle. When fish are striking on the surface and the planer is not necessary, switching to light spinning tackle and a small trolling weight to keep the spoon just below the surface will provide much more sport, especially when youngsters are onboard.
Tactics: Spanish mackerel can also be caught while slow-trolling or drifting live greenbacks on the same reefs. Most of the baitfish on the reefs are very small and cannot be caught with a Sabiki rig. If the game plan is to use live bait, it is best to use a cast net near shore or in the bay before venturing out to the reefs.
Bonus: All of the above mentioned reefs currently are harboring several different species of sharks. Once enough mackerel for the table are caught, anchoring, chumming and deploying a fresh filet of mackerel will generate great action. All it takes is 50-pound class tackle and wire leaders, along with some patience.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815.