A Big Mack Attack By: Capt. George Hastick

Spanish mackerel will still be inside Tampa Bay and along the beaches in July. When the summertime flats get too hot, it can be a good time to target Spanish mackerel in deeper water, that will be cooler than the flats, and you might catch a little more of a breeze to keep cool yourself. Some of the things that can be great about mackerel fishing is that, once you find them, they are usually schooled up, so the bite can be as fast as you get a bait or lure out.

Finding them can be as easy as looking for birds diving on bait schools, seeing mackerel crashing baits on the top of the water or seeing mackerel coming out of the water as they attack baits. If you are not seeing this, or having any luck working the bait schools, they are also structure oriented. Range & channel markers, reefs, bridges and drop offs where flats stop and drop down to eight feet or deeper are all good areas to fish. You can throw spoons or jigs while fan casting to see if there are any in the area or, if you have live scaled sardines, start spraying some live baits out and look for topwater explosions! Many times, you can set up, up-tide of the structure and put out a chum bag, which will attract bait fish and mackerel behind your boat. You can also cut up pieces of scaled sardines or threadfin and put a steady stream of pieces in the water and, then, free line a live bait or chunk in with the chum that is drifting with the current. A 3/4-ounce spoon is also a great mackerel catcher, but you might want to put about six inches of 30 to 40-pound wire with a swivel to tie your line to. This will lessen the number of cut-offs you will get from their sharp teeth. For live baiting, I use 25to 30-pound leader with a 3X long shank hook for the same reason. So, get out there and have some drag screaming fun!