Water temperatures have reached the magic number and the king mackerel run off the Nature Coast is in full swing. They will have company, to the tune of large schools of Spanish mackerel, cobia, Bonita and several species of sharks.
Look for the action in depths starting as shallow as 20 feet. Most any natural structure with a high relief that holds baitfish will produce. The area's numerous artificial reefs will also be hot spots and are easy to locate. These reefs will be covered with bait so be sure to bring along some Sabiki rigs. This is the best way to match the hatch, and your offerings will not go unnoticed for long. While you are free-lining these baits on the surface, always drop a few to the bottom. The grouper fishing is getting better each day and this will help you bring home a mixed bag.
Tips: Wire leaders or heavy monofilament leaders testing 60 to 80 pounds are a must when the mackerel are around. Those who choose to go with mono will have more strikes but cutoffs are to be expected. To increase your odds with mono leaders try using an extra-long shank hook. The Mustad and Eagle Claw Nos. 3 and 4 chrome wire hooks work well and are light enough not to impair the action of your live baits.
Capt. Troy P. Sapp with Fins and Tails Guide service can be reached at (813) 920-6928.