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CAPTAIN'S CORNER

What's hot: Summer is shaping up to be a banner fishing season. Spanish mackerel are within a mile offshore along the gulf coastline to the midwinter artificial reefs, about 10 miles offshore. Probably the easiest way to target them is to rig a pair of No. 1 planers with 20 feet of 30-pound leader attached to a size 00 or 0 spoon and troll at 6 knotslooking for diving birds.

Tip: There's usually a no-wake zone before you enter the gulf. Deploy your lines because you will be at a trolling speed. We've been doing this for years and have made some surprising catches. Another way of targeting Spanish mackerel is to anchor and chum near a pass, especially on an outgoing tide, which sweeps all types of forage from the bay into the gulf. Putting out a frozen block of chum gets the water teeming with baitfish and their predators. Using a sabiki rig with the lower No. 2 hooks tipped with a small piece of shrimp or squid provides plenty of bait to fly line into the chum slick and also chop into small pieces to provide variety in the slick. Many believe it's necessary to use white bait to catch mackerel. One of the more effective baits is live shrimp hooked under the horn with a long shanked Nos. 1 or 1/0 light-wire hook and fly lined into the chum.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

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