The summer months are gone and we now have November upon us. It is now the time of year that cool fronts will start coming in and small boaters will need to watch the forecast. On the days that are not good for a long run offshore, just look outside the inlets.
Big schools of Spanish mackerel will be arriving (also called Spanish macks). These fish are fun to target and great on the table. When exiting your inlet, just look for birds diving into schools of fish on the surface. The Spanish mackerels will school around the glass minnows and while they are eating, you will see the Spanish mackerels jumping out of the water. Spanish mackerels will eat shrimp, but the best way to hook up these fish is to troll a small spoon around the schools or cast a small spoon, mylar jig or shiny top water lure into the school. When doing this, troll at about two-to-three knots or reel the lure fast. A small Clark Spoon or Drone Spoon from 1.5-inches to 2-inches is a good size. I suggest using a 2-inch piece of #3 wire between your lure and leader to prevent losing your lures to the sharp teeth of these Spanish mackerel. A good setup for catching these fish would be a light 10-to-15-pound rod and reel matched with up to 12-pound mainline and a 20-pound leader. When located, these are a great fish for kids to have a good time catching. Just remind them that Spanish mackerel have sharp teeth, and depending on the child’s age, they may need help with removing the hooks.
When the conditions allow, you can run offshore and the mahi should be heading south again. This time of year, I have found that you don’t have to go beyond depths of 80-to-100 feet to find mahi. I usually start looking for them when reaching depths of 60 feet. Trolling ballyhoo is a known method for finding and catching these fish, but if live baits are available, it is always a good idea to bring some along for when the mahi are located. Troll ballyhoo at 5-to-7 knots, naked or with colored skirts to cover more ground when searching. When mahi are located around floating debris or weedlines, switch to some live bait to start a feeding frenzy. If you choose to troll a weedline with live bait, lower your trolling speed to idle speed and try to keep the weedline on one side of your boat to avoid getting your live bait hung up in the weeds. When a hooked mahi gets boat side, leave him in the water to see if a school is around, and if so, they will stay with the hooked one and you can pitch baits to them and catch a few more.
Enjoy your time on the water and be safe. Do your homework and check the weather forecasts before going out. Remember, if in doubt, head in and fish the inlet! Catch them up!