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Chasing Spanish Mackerel At the Skyway

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On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 11:30AM | By: Captain Ray Markham


Sandy Layfield

A variety of fish were caught aboard the Flat Back II this week. Several days of fishing accounted for snook, trout, bluefish, Spanish
mackerel, gag grouper, black seabass, ladyfish, bonito, flounder, and a few others. Sandy Layfield of Safety Harbor fished lower Tampa Bay with me targeting Spanish mackerel and bonito (AKA false albacore or little tunny). These fish are speedsters. Spanish mackerel can school up in big bunches, balling up baitfish, and thrashing the water in a feeding frenzy. In addition, mackerel can be excellent under the broiler or smoked.

Shaped like footballs with forked tails, bonito are in the tuna family. Although there are recipes that some say are tasty, the bonito's bloody red meat is not considered prime table fare by most. However, the explosive strikes and blazing runs of a little tunny are worth the price of admission.

Hitting the water in the afternoon to catch the last of an incoming tide and the tide change, Sandy and I tied on CAL Jigs with Shad tails.
Watching the area around the Skyway for fish breaking the surface and birds circling and diving on bait was my tactic for spotting these fish. Simple as it was, these fish would surface in a feeding frenzy for maybe a minute, then sound, moving 100 yards or so to feed again later. Because of the brief periods of feeding action, we adopted the "run and gun" strategy.

When fish would surface, I'd jump the boat on plane, moving to the area, ready to cast as we got within casting range. The CAL Shad would no sooner hit the water and we would hook up. A night glow holographic-colored jig seemed to look much like the forage these fish were feeding on. Large glass minnows (AKA bay anchovies) were their targeted prey, and these CAL Shads are very similar in size, profile, and color, making them a top choice for an artificial lure for bonito.




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