What's hot: King and Spanish mackerel are abundant and hungry along our beaches. After a windy weekend, look for clean water and bait schools. We have had predominantly northeastern winds that will keep bait schools closer to shore, thus keeping kings and macks following them. Look for diving birds and bait pods spraying the surface of the water, and troll figure-eight patterns in and around these pods. This past week kings have been averaging 20 to 25 pounds, with a few over that range, and mackerel have been plentiful and fat. All have been in 15 to 20 feet of water.
Techniques: Trolling hardware (spoons and plugs), use good swivels, wire leaders and troll 4 to 5 knots. Normally, trolling two lines, one short and one long, will prevent tangling of lines when turning and trolling figure eights around bait pods. Trolling live bait is basically putting your engine in and out of gear to keep the lines straight behind the boat and keeping your boat's bow into the wind or tide, whichever is stronger.
Tips: Kingfish normally run 3 to 4 feet long. Use a wire leader a foot longer; this will prevent tail slapping and losing your catch. Live bait for king mackerel can be blue runners, ladyfish, shad, mackerel or mullet. Also, be prepared for a kingfish to make a second run once it is boat-side.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center, (727) 518-7637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.