January 1st was the start of some of the worst cold weather I have seen in my entire life. Being one of the few natives to the areas, I have seen hurricanes crash the coast, summer storms kick up and create Tornados, and seen heavy rains cause severe flooding, but I have never seen a cold winter like this winter has given us.
With the extreme cold weather came a beat and bruised Snook population state wide. This really put a hurting on the fishing community. One area that I have noticed a big decrease in numbers is the area called the South Shore. This area runs from the Alafia River all the way south to Joes Island. Yes this area has been hit hard but there are still plenty on Snook just not in the great numbers of previous years. With that being said I have chosen not to target the Snook as much as I normally would and target other species.
One of the other species I have grown to like this year has been Mackerel. This has been a fish in the past I have used as a back up when Snook and Redfish were slow, but I have now taken a liking to Mackerel. They are almost as good of a fighter as Snook, and they are a lot less picky. Putting a plan together for target Mackerel is very easy. There are several different ways you can choose all work great, here are a few.
First step is finding what type of bait you want to use. Mackerel are very aggressive fish when they usually hit bait off a reaction strike. Greenbacks are one of the best baits to use for Mackerel due to their silver flashy sides. This is easily seen from far distances. If you want to use artificial baits there is no better than a good or silver spoon. This resembles that same flash like a Greenback.
Rigging is pretty basic for Mackerel. I personally like your typical 8 foot spinning gear. I like the 8foot Daiwa Saltiga Rod and a 2500 Tierra spinning reel. You want to make sure you have plenty of line on the reel as they are very aggressive and streaky fighters. Fins 4-10 lb Wind tammer is a great line to use. As for leader I like to start out with 50 lb ohero fluorocarbon and go down in size as depending on how the fish are biting. Hooks are are the trick to catching versus loosing fish. You want to use a 3x long shank hook. This will prevent you from break offs.
Last are areas to fish! This pretty easy, unlike Snook fishing Mackerel are found around most artificial reefs, wrecks, and hard bottom throughout the Tampa bay area. Most Gps devices today have preloaded charts and they will have the wrecks already marked on them. There are a couple different ways to fish for them. One would be to troll for them and the other more common way is to simply anchor up tide, start Cumming and free lined baits back to the current. If you don’t have a lot of baits to chum with you can use a chum block which can be bought at your local tackle stores. One last tip when trying to locate Mackerel is to look for schools of bait on the surface getting chased. This is more than likely Mackerel chasing from the bottom up. Putting all the techniques together mentioned above will ensure a great day on the water with lots of fish to be caught!
Captain Jason Prieto is a native resident of Tampa and has fished Tampa Bay and its surrounding waters for the past 20 years. He is owner and operator of Steady Action Fishing Charters which is based out of lower Tampa Bay. To book a charter, you can reach him at 813-727-9890 or https://steadyactionfishingcharters.com/. If you would like to catch him on the radio tune into Outdoor Fishing Adventures Saturday mornings from 8AM to 10AM on 1040 sports talk radio. Tight!!