What's hot: Mackerel are showing up nearly everywhere and a bunch are within a mile or two of the gulf beaches. Each of our last several trips has produced more than three dozen of the toothy speedsters, many in the 3-pound class. Ladyfish, jack crevalles, blue runners and some bluefish are mixed in with the macks and have kept drags screaming on light spin tackle for as long as we've cared to catch them.
Techniques: Each trip's a bit different. Most days we've anchored over patchy hard bottom near Blinds Pass and chummed them to our boat. Nothing gets them going like combo chumming with a frozen block and some live chummers behind the boat. Other days they hit moving baits and we've produced by slow trolling.
Bait and tackle: Gathering bait had been made simple by easterly winds drawing big schools inside the swash right along our beaches and most have been the perfect size 3-inch whitebait. I prefer spin tackle when mackerel fishing. It's easier to cast with a light bait and even the smallest spinners hold enough 10- to 16-pound test to get the job done.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.