What's hot: Spanish mackerel have moved near the coast of Pinellas County, with most action in 18- to 22-foot depths. Trolling silver spoons at the end of a steel leader (to prevents cutoffs) works well for locating fish. However, I prefer to look for birds working offshore bait schools, foraging on bait the mackerel and other fish have corralled to the surface. Hang a chum block overboard and chum with sardines to draw mackerel to you. Anchor over rocky, hard-bottom areas that have an abundance of coral and ledges to hold bait schools.
Tip: Mangrove snapper are schooling around the same terrain as the mackerel. Be prepared to fish straight down using a small split shot, allowing a sardine to slightly drift in your chum. Usually the snapper are visible rising from the bottom and eating in the chum slick.
Bait: Sardines and threadfin herring have appeared in huge numbers in the swash channels along the beaches at first light. Most of them are just big enough to fall from the net. Look for pelicans and other birds diving along the sandbars, exposing the best areas to start throwing a cast net.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and through his website at captbrian.com.