by Capt. Bart Marx
The Northerly migrating of the mackerels as they follow the bait schools is happening. Trolling is a great way to target Spanish and king mackerel. For the Spanish I like to use a spoon and jig combo, usually a white tail and a silver spoon. Using a 3’ piece of fifty-pound mono, tie the jig on one end and the spoon on the other. Then take the rod that you will be using and hook the spoon into the hook ring or the bottom guide on the rod. Then hook the jig into the next guide. Pull the line tight and form a loop where you tie it and add a swivel where you will attach the fishing line. This keeps the hooks secure while under way in the boat. When you find the mackerel cast this rig back about 75’ behind the boat. If your lures keep skipping on the surface, add a one, two, or three-ounce egg weight, to get it down just enough. Check the drag and have it snug but not tight, you may have two fish on at one time and you don’t want to lose your line. Usually two of these rigs trolling will keep you busy when you drive around the school as they are feeding. Be sure to look closely, there could be some small kings mixed in the school too, sometimes it is difficult to tell. For the kings I like to use a number one planer with a spoon that matches the size of the bait in the area. I have learned to put wire in front and behind the planer and your spoon. This helps from losing the whole rig when a big fish attacks. And between the planer and the spoon I like to use 8’ of fifty-pound fishing line where you would attach the spoon to the planer. I like to pull these close to the boat (about 30’). If you have help on the boat you can pull all this at the same time; you need to keep close eye on your lines so they don’t tangle as you troll around the bait balls.
Also, this month the snappers should be feeding on some of the close reefs in forty to fifty feet, and out to one hundred feet. Try making chum balls with sand and chum like they do in the Keys to attract the snapper. I like to anchor just on the edge of the structure I want to fish and chum and pull the fish away from the snags and ledges. This will help with loosing hooks, weights, and fishing line. If you are not into making a big mess with the sand on your boat, you can hang a chum bag from the front of the boat. When you travel out stop in an area that you can catch some squirrel fish for bait. I always have squid, shrimp, sardines, and some other frozen bait to use first to get the bite fired up. After the bite slows, then use your live baits. This works well to catch some of the bigger fish that are laying back. I have a new member in my fleet, a thirty-foot SCARAB with twin outboards, permits for up to six anglers, with the bigger boat I will be able to do eight-hour trips traveling out to thirty miles or so.