Check the thermometer. Lower water temperatures and shorter days have activated many species of fish in Tampa Bay. Just about everything is biting. Fall is a great time to fish in our area. The fish sense a change coming and are starting to fatten up for winter.
What's hot: Spanish mackerel and some grouper have pushed into the bay. This has left smiling faces everywhere from happy anglers. Nice big ones up to 5 pounds are being caught from the Gandy Bridge to Port Manatee and all the way to the beaches.
Tip: Fish where birds are going nuts. They have a unique overhead view. Seabirds in a big group are almost always an indicator for schooling fish like mackerel. When targeting mackerel, the use of a single-strand wire leader will help dramatically with "bite-offs."
Bait: Medium-sized scaled sardines (greenbacks) are an ideal bait for fall mackerel. They are available on the grass flats of Tampa Bay. A can of jack mackerel mixed with plain cornmeal is a simple, trusted chum. Flick out small amounts in the same area to attract bait fish. Be patient. Throwing a cast net well requires practice. Never mind what the neighbors think when practicing in the front yard.
Capt. Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or snookfish.com.