What's hot: The annual arrival of Spanish mackerel has happened rather suddenly. Almost overnight, Tampa Bay received a huge influx.
Tips: When the bite is on, nothing in the water is safe, especially live baits. The artificial lures of choice are silver spoons. Live baits should be free-lined downtide. Spoons can be trolled or pitched. To attract mackerel, use a frozen block of chum. Anchor and tie it to a cleat and plop it over the side. Just never forget a partly used chum bag in a boat hatch!
Tactics: The preference is light spinning gear. A fairly limber rod and a smooth, loose drag will help. Use a leader. Some use thin, single-strand wire to prevent biteoffs, but mono and long shank hooks are preferred. Monofilament is easier to work with than wire, which is important when dealing with fish that have razor sharp teeth. Look for them around range markers and in shipping channels.
Cooking tips: Ice the fish immediately and eat them fresh. If they must be frozen, do so in a block of water. Mackerel can be prepared in a variety of ways; try them on a broiling pan with fresh citrus juice applied after it has been cooked.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at snookfish.com or (813) 310-6531.