St. Pete Report By: Capt. Anthony Corcella

The mackerel have arrived. King and Spanish macks are swarming local waters, as the water temp has hit the magical 74 degrees. These speedsters will attack live bait and lures with reckless abandon.

The Spanish mackerel are everywhere from the channels surrounding grass flats, the area bridges and piers and along the beaches. These fish are an easy target. They will hit live shrimp and live greenbacks either free lined or under a bobber. They will also attack jigs and spoons either casted or slow trolled. Clark spoons and Gotcha plugs are favorites, as are Docs Goofy Jigs. The smaller the better–00 to 1 size spoons and 1/8 to ¼ ounce jigs work best.

The kingfish are anywhere from the Skyway out to the hard bottom a few miles off the beaches. The big smoker kings can’t resist a slow trolled live blue runner or ladyfish. You can also go out to the hard bottom and chum with greenbacks to get a solid bite going. Larger spoons trolled on a planer will also take their share of schooly fish, as well as, big smokers.

For Spanish mackerel, a 3000-size spinning reel with a 7’6” rod rated 6 to 12-pound tackle is fine. A piece of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader will work a lot better than wire. If using live bait, go with a long shank 1/0 to 2/0 hook to help curb the cut offs. A larger 6000-size spinning reel loaded with 20 to 30-pound braid on a 7-foot 15 to 25 lb. class rod will work great for the kings. When fishing for kings, a 3-foot piece of seven strand wire will help keep the big fish from breaking off. Wire is best whether trolling live bait or lures with the kings, as they have a habit of cutting through the mono. When using live bait, make sure to use a stinger rig. Attach a free-swinging treble hook to the main hook with a piece of wire.

The great thing about fishing for mackerel off the beaches and on the hard bottom is that you can catch both kings and Spanish mackerel on the same trip. Never keep more than you’re going to eat, as mackerel do not freeze well. Both kings and Spanish mackerel make great smoked fish dip and there are many recipes available online.

Let’s talk about the heart of Pocket Change Fishing Charters and how it all started.  One afternoon, we got a call from a disabled veteran who wanted to fish. He began to tell us that there were a few trips that he booked with a few guides and they canceled on him when they found out that he was in a wheelchair. Since I had a skiff, I told him that I would figure out a way to get him on this boat. As soon as the air hit him in the face, there was nothing but smiles from ear to ear. Right there I knew what I needed to do in life was to take every wheelchair person that wanted to go out on the boat. I decided to talk with my family about buying a bigger boat with the proper ramps, ADA restraints and brackets. It was a good decision and I have never regretted it.