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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Mackerel plentiful along the beaches

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 Ray Markham reports that Spanish and king mackerel have invaded waters on the coast from Sarasota to Homosassa, and good numbers are being caught in the 4-to 6-pound range on Clark Spoon Squids trolled on flatlines and No. 2 planers. Most of the Spanish were off the beaches at 35 feet or less. He said areas just outside some of the passes have been holding baitfish schools, and there are macks, jacks, ladyfish and bonito in these areas. Egmont Key ship channel is a good place to start, and there may be kings around the buoys, as well.

Markham said big trout are being caught in Clearwater Harbor and St. Joseph Sound, as well as in Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay and Anna Maria Sound. CAL 5.5 Jerk Baits are among the top lures for these big fish in the shallows.

Markham reports excellent action on big reds from the Little Manatee River to Terra Ceia Bay, as well as the inside waters near Dunedin. Captain Dave Markett reported putting some of his clients on their personal best big reds this past week while fishing with MirrOlure Lil’ John XL soft plastics. For more reports and photos, visit www.captainraymarkham.com.

Snook season is open, but most anglers are reporting few in the slot. Live sardines are the ticket for finding these fish in the potholes and sloughs along the South Shore area of Tampa Bay and in Bull and Turtle bays at Charlotte Harbor.

Anglers in the Kissimmee River chain are finding plenty of lunker largemouths both by flippin’ the grass and by working weedless swimbaits, including wobble jigs like the Chatterbait, just outside the grass. Live shiners continue to be a can’t-fail bait for giant fish, as well. The spawn will keep fish in the shallows well into April. Crappie fishing is still good but nearing the end of the spawn, and shellcrackers will soon take their place on sandy bottoms in bulrush and maidencane cover.

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

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