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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Spring mackerel run comes early

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

Though it’s about a month early for the annual spring mackerel run, captain Ray Markham reports the fish are here, including lots of big ones in the 6-pound range, from the Skyway to beyond the last Egmont Channel marker. He says throwing Gotcha lures or trolling Clark spoons on the edge of the schools does the job. He said macks are visible skyrocketing near the beaches in some areas, as well — get out early and watch for them. Markham said Hubbard’s party boats are catching lots of hogfish in 40 feet and beyond, most on live shrimp.

Markham, one of the top artificial lure anglers in Florida, has been guiding his anglers to big redfish from Bishop’s Harbor to Joe Bay on C.A.L. jigs with shad tails. He said captain Rick Grassett is keeping clients busy in Sarasota Bay with mackerel, blues, ladyfish and jacks around the passes by day, as well as on snook taking flies under the docks at night; www.captainraymarkham.com.

The spoil islands north of Dunedin Causeway continue to turn out monster trout, up to 24 inches long, on jumbo live shrimp under popping corks. This water is heavily fished, but if you’re patient and fish the shrimp on small hooks and light lines, you’ll connect.

In freshwater, there’s no better time than now to put a 10-pound bass in the boat. Toho, Kissimmee, Istokpoga and Okeechobee are all prime, and flippin’ soft plastics to the beds is the way to connect. Captain Sean Rush continues to catch and release 10-pound fish regularly for his clients at Rodman Reservoir northeast of Ocala, all on big wild shiners.

The crappie spawn is winding down a bit, but there are still plenty of fish around the bulrushes at Okeechobee and Kissimmee — live minnows or 1⁄16 jigs do the job on these tasty panfish.

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

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