Coming soon: When my orange tree blossoms and the flocks of robins, blue jays and cardinals appear in my yard, I know king mackerel will be here soon. Already the Spanish mackerel have flooded into Tampa Bay. Huge schools are gathering around the bridge piers and some along the beaches. Soon the king mackerel will be chasing bait just offshore. Generally we consider March 15 the unofficial start of kingfish season here. But with the sudden change from winter into spring we may see the first catches before that. Water temperature is crucial with most fish, and the mackerel are keen on warm water to survive. They favor the 70s and 80s.
What to look for: Watch for diving terns to locate the schools of baitfish, where you will also find the mackerel. Even if you don't see the birds diving, wherever you notice a shower of bait on the surface you can be sure that the king mackerel will be close by.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit CaptainLarry Blue.com.