Spanish mackerel have finally shown up in quantity in the gulf. Until recently the only anglers successful targeting them were those fishing Tampa Bay. Once the mackerel arrived, so did their predators, which include barracuda, sharks and kingfish. Fishing for kingfish has been extremely good for this time of year with many taking up residence at the western end of the shipping channel, midwater artificial reefs and wrecks, and many of the mitigation rock piles on the natural gas pipeline. Barracuda are one of my personal favorites to target and will be found at the same spots as the kingfish and mackerel. Shark fishing has not been as good as in past years close to shore because of the lack of mackerel. Now that they have arrived, hammerhead, blacktip and bull sharks can be targeted near any entrance to the gulf by chumming with frozen chum and having some patience. Mackerel filets, bonita and whole butterfly mackerel are all excellent shark baits and should be deployed throughout the water column by use of balloon floats. Heavy tackle is not required for many of the sharks targeted because of the lack of structure where they are caught. Downsizing tackle provides for some memorable battles. Be prepared by having a float ready to release the anchor and chase the fish down when the big one decides to take the light tackle bait.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.