Thursday, November 23, 2017
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Spanish mackerel, kingfish arrive early

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What's hot: Columbus Day, which is celebrated on the second Monday of October, usually marks the beginning of the fall Spanish mackerel and kingfish runs. But apparently nobody told the fish, because they are already here. On all our recent trips, we have caught our personal boat limit of Spanish mackerel, which is seven per person if the party wants to keep that many. The regulatory limit is 15. It seems as if the larger mackerel are farther offshore. Mackerel of all sizes can be found within a mile of shore near all the passes emptying into the gulf, especially on an outgoing tide.

Tips: Trolling at 6 knots with two No. 1 planers (with No. 1 or No. 00 spoons) using 20 feet of 30-pound leader should provide consistent action. We have been deploying a third line down the middle with a jig head equipped with a locally manufactured 4-inch soft plastic shad tail. When a strike occurs and the boat is taken out of gear to land the hooked fish, the shad tail sinks in a manner that has proved irritable to some of the larger mackerel. We have caught kingfish every day by trolling larger spoons behind the No. 1 planer with 50-pound test leader, live Spanish sardines or scad on a stinger rig with a small trolling lead about 10 feet ahead of the bait.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

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