Sunday, February 18, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Looming winter sparks several species

What's hot: Spanish mackerel, kingfish, barracuda, sharks and cobia are active in anticipation of winter. Landlocked anglers have caught Spanish mackerel from jetties, beaches and piers on outgoing tides. Free-lined live shrimp and small whitebait work well, but more consistent catches are being made casting jigs and small gold spoons with a trolling lead. Casting uptide lets the lure imitate the baitfish and shrimp carried out by the current.

Techniques: Anglers with boats do not have to venture more than a mile for mackerel. Troll small spoons or plugs or anchor and deploy a chum block along with small slivers of cut bait. Several fun methods can be used to catch fish once chummed up. One is to free-line live whitebait or shrimp with a long, shanked gold hook. Shrimp are a natural bait for mackerel. You also can cast small lures, shad-tailed jigs or spoons. The strike is often visible and results in a drag-screaming run when using 10-pound class or lighter tackle.

Tips: Have a heavier rod rigged and ready while fishing for Spanish mackerel. Sharks, kingfish and cobia will frequent the same areas, but heavier tackle and wire leader is mandated. Kingfish are still scattered, and most of our catches have been made by trolling spoons near the shipping channel or on live bait on a flat line while bottom fishing.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

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