What's hot: With the exception of a few days, we've had mellow breezes vs. the usually relentless winds of April. Most species have been cooperative lately, especially large schools of sizable Spanish mackerel. Fish in the 5-pound range are being caught in Tampa Bay from the Sunshine Skyway bridge to the Gandy Bridge. These toothy fish are quite easy to catch, making them ideal for dinner and a fun time for kids.
Technique: Mackerel have sharp teeth, so use a hook with a long shank to help prevent a "bite off." Some anglers use a single-strand wire leader to keep the fish from biting through, but because of their keen eyesight, a mono leader with a longer hook will trigger more strikes.
Tip: Small, shiny silver spoons will catch Spanish mackerel if artificial lures are used, but they love live baits, such as scaled sardines, greenbacks or shrimp. If chummed up with chunks of fish, they will hit cut bait.
Best fresh: Some say mackerel are oily or "fishy." But if they are iced thoroughly and cooked the same day, they are splendid on a broiling pan or in the smokehouse.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or snookfish.com.