This is the time of year our area undergoes an invasion by a strong fighting toothy critter known as the Spanish mackerel. These fish are a blast to catch on light tackle and are good table fare. Spanish mackerel have Omega-3 fatty acids which are the polyunsaturated fatty acids that provide huge health benefits.
There are many techniques anglers use to catch Spanish Mackerel. Live white bait under a cork or free lined is a great option since that's what they primarily feed on. White bait has arrived and can easily be chummed up. With just a few throws of your cast net you will have enough bait for the day. Use a 2/0 XXL long shank hook to prevent cutoffs. Another option is any lure that resembles the white bait. Silver spoons and white jerk baits are great options to "match the hatch" these predators are feeding on.
Mackerel can be found throughout our entire region. Near shore rock piles and deeper holes are great areas to target. These areas hold bait, and when you locate bait, the mackerel will be there also. Look for birds diving or sitting on the surface.
Spanish mackerel are simple to clean, but removing the blood line is key. Cut the fillet from the body like any other fish. Leave the skin on but remove the blood line from the center of the fillet. To do this just run your knife down each side of the center line down to the skin but not through the skin. Pull the center blood line out like a zipper and your ready to cook.
I prefer these fish done on the grill. Place foil down on the grill and put it to med/high heat. Place the fillets skin side down. I melt a 1/4 stick of butter, a scoop of minced garlic, and a few tablespoons of hot sauce in a cup and frequently baste the fish as it cooks. I like to cook extra fish and place the extra fish in a bowl. Add onion, celery, horse radish, liquid smoke, jalapeņo and mayonnaise. A simple fish dip is created that will last all week.
Good luck out there and tight lines!
Capt. Keith Tomlinson runs Bulldog Fishin Charters out of Hernando Beach. Contact him at www.bulldogfishin.com or (352)238-3581.