The Tampa Bay Times
Dave Zalewski 460-9893
Concentrations of Spanish mackerel of all sizes can be found from within 100 yards of the gulf shore line all the way out to the 60 foot depths. No matter what depth one is trolling in, the key to success is finding some type of structure that will provide protection for the baitfish that the mackerel prey on. Structure may be found scattered all over the gulf and may consist of limestone ledges and low relief outcroppings, piles of concrete rubble and shipwrecks placed on the artificial reefs, channel markers and the edges of channels. Once the structure is located sonar will reveal as to whether it is holding baitfish or not. Usually if no baitfish are showing on the screen it is time to move on to another piece of structure. Lately we have been having better success trolling #1 and 2 planers with small and medium sized spoons not directly on the mid water artificial reefs but on the hard bottom areas adjacent to the reefs. When constructed, the reef materials could not be placed on live bottom, but were positioned close them. Every artificial reef has some interesting structure from a quarter to a half mile around them.
Mixed in with the Spanish mackerel are juvenile kingfish that can look a lot alike. Both may have bronze spots on the body. Spanish Mackerel have a black spot on the first dorsal fin that the kingfish lacks. Kingfish have a pronounced dip in the lateral line, while the Spanish has a gently curving lateral line. Spanish mackerel have to be 12 inches fork length and kingfish have to be 24 inch fork length.