What's hot: Fall temperatures have migratory mackerel flowing back into local waters. Both king and Spanish mackerel are showing up in good numbers along the coast. For the next month or two the seasonal run should be in full swing.
Tips: Go early. Both king and Spanish mackerel are most active at daybreak and feed aggressively until the sun gets high overhead. This is a good time to either anchor, chum, and fish deeper in the water column or target something else such as gag grouper. There is typically a second feeding period at around 3 or 4 p.m. Many giant kingfish have been caught just before sundown. By far the best live bait for mackerel is a small Spanish sardine.
Tactics: Keep a big livebait, such as a jumbo blue runner, slowly trolling behind the boat on a wire stinger rig. Big kings often follow mackerel frenzies, pouncing on their smaller cousins. Make sure the bait is too big for the abundant Spanish to bite. Live mackerel make good baits in this situation, if you can catch one and put it on the hook right away. They will not live in a livewell.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.