What's hot: If you're not targeting king and Spanish mackerel, you should be. This is the time of the year when both species can be caught in the same place while using basically the same tackle, as long as the weather is right. When the winds are coming out of the east, head for the coast off Pinellas County. Recently, Larry Mastry fished off the Don CeSar Hotel and came home with numerous 4- to 6-pound Spanish and kings up to 30 pounds. "Soon as we got out of the pass, mackerel were coming out of the water," Mastry said. "I told my guys we're going to start right here and we ended up staying there all day."
Be prepared: Proper gear, technique, and bait are critical. Mastry spends hours getting his king and mackerel rigs made up ahead of time and stored in separate bags. Rods are rigged. Reel drags are pre-set. Technique usually depends on the tide, but variations can happen. Typically, he'll slow troll his minnows unless he can get it done anchored up and chumming. He'll do that when the fish are hanging over a patch of bottom and not moving. When the tide is slack, slow-trolling is the only way to go.
Bait: Live bait for Mastry normally consists of a live-well full of large greenbacks (threadfin herring) and whitebait (scaled sardines) that fits his rigs. The stinger hook should lay just past the bait's dorsal.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376.