What's hot: Probably the surest thing for anglers in the gulf now is Spanish mackerel. Larger fish have taken up residence on most nearshore artificial reefs, 4 to 6 miles offshore. They can be targeted in several ways; the most common is to troll No. 1 planers followed by 20 to 25 feet of 40-pound leader attached to a gold or silver small spoon. The key is not blind trolling, but locating the high profile structures on each reef and trolling figure-8 patterns around it so your lines are presented to the predators attacking the shelter-seeking baitfish. Another method is using live bait either caught on site by the use of sabiki or to net white bait inshore and take it to the reefs. Attract the mackerel by anchoring over a structure and deploying a chum bag along with slivers of cut baitfish. A live baitfish nose hooked with a long shanked gold hook will produce non-stop action. If you get too many cutoffs, use a small trace of light wire.
Tip: If you troll hardware (planers, spoons, or plugs) and have to go through a no-wake zone to get to the gulf, put a No. 1 planer and spoon out. The no-wake speed is almost perfect for trolling and it is amazing what can be caught by using this method. Through the years, species we have caught include Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, speckled and silver trout and grouper.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.
Stephen F. Holder