Spanish mackerel are migratory and tend to make a major push through the Tampa Bay area in the spring and fall. Every summer, however, a large population takes up residence inside the bay and along our beaches, taking advantage of the large bait supply in the region. Locating the mackerel can be as easy as locating the food source. Typical signs for finding fish, such as flocks of diving birds, are not always as obvious as when the migratory schools are traveling through. Focusing on structures that tend to hold bait can be successful, even when obvious signs of feeding fish are not present. Anchoring and chumming is my preferred method for drawing mackerel to the boat in this scenario. A frozen chum block will hold the fish's attention, while a handful of freebie baits thrown into the mix can instigate a competitive feeding frenzy. Spinning gear in the 10-pound class is perfectly matched for this type of fishing by allowing the fish to make scorching runs against the drag, keeping the fun factor high. Having a heavier rod rigged and ready can also maximize opportunities when an unexpected cobia or shark also shows up in the chum line.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at [email protected] and (727) 510-1009.