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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Go Fishing: Mackerel, kings still swarming Tampa Bay area

GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.

Captain Mike Anderson of WFLA (970 AM) and “Reel Animals” TV reports plenty of Spanish and kings off the beaches.

“Target the areas of hard bottom just off the beaches for best results,” Anderson said. “Slow troll or anchor up and chum. I catch more fish anchored up, but bigger fish slow trolling. Light wire leader with stinger rigs are my recommendation. Also use a very light drag, as the strike is fast and violent, so a tight drag will cause you to miss more than you catch.

Anderson said he’s been doing offshore/inshore charters, catching kings and Spanish on the beaches until inside tide flow gets right, then heading to the back country for reds.

“Schools of oversized reds are seemingly everywhere,” Anderson said. “If you’re having trouble finding the schools, locate the big mullet schools and fish directly in the middle of them. I picked up eight nice upper-slot reds this way early in the week. We are also starting to see some big trout show up on the flats, as well. Trout in the 25-plus-inch range are starting to be fairly common again after a hot summer pushed most of them into deeper waters. Again, the mullet schools have been key to the big trout as well.”

Captain Richard Seward continues to load up on monster Spanish mackerel, some more than 30 inches long, in Tampa Bay. Seward seeks out spoil banks coming to within 4 or 5 feet of the surface in 15 feet or more of water. He puts out a chum bag and lets the current bring the fish to his live threadfins or sardines. Seward said it’s critical to use heavy fluorocarbon leader, 40- to 50-pound test, and long-shank hooks, rather than leader wire; (813) 962-7862.

Captain Ray Markham reports the flounder bite in lower Tampa Bay is the best he’s seen in years, with some fish up to 20 inches long and lots of keepers.

“The CAL Shad rigged on a quarter-ounce CAL head has been best, but the MirrOlure soft plastic Lil’ John XL brings up a close second,” Markham said.

He said there are also tons of bluefish and mackerel in the lower bay, with some of the blues up to 6 pounds, and lots of big reds on the flats ready to whack Eppinger spoons; www.captainraymarkham.com.

The Ruskin Seafood Festival is Saturday and Sunday at Simmons Park northwest of Ruskin. It opens daily at 10 a.m.; www.ruskinseafoodfestival.org.

The Online Fisherman Extravaganza is Sunday at Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde, noon to 6 p.m. It features how-to seminars, giveaways and a kids clinic; www.onlinefisherman.com.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at [email protected]

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