Written by Captain Pat Damico
Spanish Mackerel on Fly
While casting baitfish patterns near passes, deeper edges of grass flats or open water where birds are chasing fleeing baitfish do you occasionally get a hard strike and then a leader close to the fly that is cut off like a scissors did the work? You may be into an early run of Spanish Mackerel. The influx of massive schools of larger baitfish has these speedy predators steadily looking for easy pickings. Around passes or open water, schools can be large and more noticeable, but inshore, smaller groups of fish are more common. Some fish may be in the 4-5 pound range. Baitfish aren’t everywhere yet, but locating them is the key to some spectacular fly fishing. Open water temperatures are still cooler in the mornings and most trips have been more productive when the water temperature increases a few degrees later in the day. Watch your temperature gauge. Diving birds, nervous water, fleeing baitfish being chased, a surface that looks like rain are all worth investigating. We use baitfish colored flies that match bait you see in size tied with synthetic material instead of natural hair and 30 pound hard monofilament bite tippet because mackerel will destroy a natural hair fly and a light tippet. Thin wire is helpful, but in clear water will minimize strikes. Flies with the material close to the bend on a long hook shank further prevent cutoffs. Long strips are better than short jerky ones because many takes will allow you to strip set the hook in the middle of your retrieve. If you miss a fish, speed your retrieve for another take. Minimize false casting to allow your fly to spend more time in the water and not the air. Many of the newer fly lines that have a rough surface texture will give you a nasty cut as it is stripped over your finger taking days to heal. Many companies make an inexpensive stripping guide that protects your finger holding the rod to avoid this problem.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.comand (727) 504-8649.