by Capt. James Vadas
The Spanish Mackerel have been blowing up the surface of the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island, feeding on the huge schools of bait evident by the amount of birds circling these feeding frenzies. The local commercial fisherman who fish out of Cortez have an old saying, “When the wind is blowing out of the East, look for mackerel on the beach”. It seems to be true by my own experiences. However, they are usually holding above structure as well. Some of the biggest mackerel we have caught this year were over shipwrecks and concrete reef piles in less than 30’ of water. My typical setup would be two flat lines running behind the boat, flowing with the wind and current, while we are anchored over the structure that is holding these bait balls. I chum by cutting my fresh live baitfish into pieces and create a slick behind the boat. I use Penn 4000 series reels spooled with 20 lb. braided line and 3’ of 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader. I have better success using long shank hooks than steel wire to prevent a bite off because water is so clear the mackerel can see the piano wire and avoid striking the bait. I also will loosen up the drag to prevent being bitten off and it adds to the laughter and chaos when we get hooked up on Spanish mackerel. They are lightning fast and put up a great fight.
We are looking forward the Bonita run this month. The false albacore have been known to feed heavily on the surface of the waters near Anna Maria Island around the month of September. So keep your eyes peeled for the birds diving on bait at the surface when heading out to the 7 Mile reef. If you come upon a feeding frenzy of false albacore just cast a live pilchard on a #2 circle hook with 3’ of 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader at them, while you chum heavily with more live pilchards. The fight to land a false albacore on light tackle is awesome! They make long drag smoking runs and can literally wear you out just reeling them to the boat. I really enjoy taking photos of my guests holding these beautifully colored fish and I hope you get to experience it too. God bless and tight lines.
Yours Truly, Captain James Living Water Charters