By DAVE WALKER
© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 27, 2001
Fishing in Old Tampa Bay has many anglers shouting, "holy mackerel." The water is alive with the toothy critters. Fishing for Spanish mackerel is a great way to catch dinner or just have a blast on light tackle. Single-strand wire leader is necessary to get these guys. Mono leaders will work if long shank hooks are used.
Still, expect some "bite offs." The less hardware used, the better. Swivels only will encourage other fish that are not hooked to hit the line. The Albright knot is the bestway to attach wire to mono. This knot is usually demonstrated on the wire's packaging.
A strong incoming tide is best. The down-tide side of range markers, over artificial reefs and shipping channels are all good places to look. A chum block will help attract them. Leaving a steady stream of cut bait also will do the trick. Do not set the hook hard. Mackerel often will foul hook, and setting hard will pull the hook from the skin, resulting in a missed fish. A loose drag is important for the same reason.
The fish we are catching are in the 3- to 6-pound class! The 6-pounders will fight so hard it is astonishing. Do not panic and tighten the drag. They will tire after a long run.
Live bait is best. Greenbacks, pinfish, and shrimp are good. Silverspoons and jigs also are effective.
- Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 831-0355.