What's hot: We have been targeting the spawn schools close to the beach. The passes during the outgoing tide produced the best action. Flocking birds helped locate the fish. John's Pass had the best surface action. Mackerel, jacks and ladyfish would strike a quarter-ounce silver spoon reeled quickly through the striking fish. At the 20-foot dropoff of Blinds Pass, we found better quality fish.
Technique: Anchoring on the drop, we deployed a frozen chum block and free-line sardines on long shank hooks. After tossing a few handfuls of live bait behind the boat, the mackerel would start striking the surface. When the first mackerel was landed we cut a large chunk out of the center and deployed it on a free-lined rod rigged with a steel leader and a 5/0 hook, which produced sharks and cobia. This area had schools of large threadfins you could free-line for kingfish. Most mackerel off Blinds Pass were 4 to 5 pounds. Iced quickly, they make good table fare.
Tips: Fish during a moving tide and target the solunar period. With wind out of the east, stay close to shore. Out of the west, look farther offshore.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.