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Published Aug. 31, 2005

Anglers around Tampa Bay are starting to shout "holy mackerel." Spanish mackerel are thick around the Sunshine Skyway fishing piers. Bridge fishermen are having a blast; just about anything shiny is fair game for a hungry mack.

Live bait or cut chunks will produce violent strikes. Long shank hooks are preferred over wire leader. Inspect and change leader material as necessary. Use the least hardware possible. This will help prevent biteoffs because it minimizes targets for mackerel to attack. Sometimes they will even hit the knot connecting the line to the leader. Bring extra tackle when targeting these fish.

If dinner is desired, ice down the fish immediately and do not be stingy. A sharp fillet knife run right down the spine will yield a nice slab. The skin usually is kept on and the fish cooked skin side down. When it is ready, the meat will flake away from the skin quite easily.

Snook are still somewhat hesitant to cooperate. Though many fish can be seen on the flats and shallows, they are not going crazy. As warm weather is forecast to be with us for a while, things ought to get very interesting.

_ Captain Dave Walker charters out of Old Tampa Bay and can be reached (813) 831-0355.