March Means More Mackerel

As the cold fronts begin to subside, the waters in Tampa Bay are expected to bring in the much-awaited Mackerel in abundance. Capt. Mike Murphy of Fish This Inshore Charters in Apollo Beach and Tampa Bay shares some valuable facts and tips about fishing for March for fishing enthusiasts.

As the waters warm up in March, baitfish schools move up the coast and into the bays and estuaries. These are closely followed by the pelagic species, King and Spanish Mackerel, that feed on these baitfish. The March fishing report for Tampa Bay by Captain Mike Murphy of Fish This Inshore Charters says that the water will be noticeable but finding a day with low to moderate winds will be challenging. But despite the odds, the spring fishing season is a reason to be excited for beginners and pros alike.  

Catching Spanish Mackerel
The water temperature is key to finding these great fighting, pelagic fish. Captain Mike Murphy shares some tips to catch this fish:

  1. Start with an enormous rod and reel setup.  
  2. For Spanish mackerel, the traditional setup is sufficient. Steel leader is sometimes a go-to but can be cumbersome and result in some leader-shy fish that won’t fit.  
  3. Find the big schools of bait, which will make their appearance first in front of the skyway fishing piers.  
  4. Greenies will be a great bet on catching these fish, but try to find some long shank hooks, 1/0, at a local bait shop. This will reduce many of the cutoffs when fishing these toothy fish.  
  5. Gotcha plugs, also available at the local bait shops, are a great cast and retrieve lure to catch much fish.  
  6. Fast, sporadic jerky on the retrieve is the best method. Silver spoons are also a go-to.  

Catching King Mackerel
Here are some pro tips for catching King Mackerel, the much larger cousin of Spanish Mackerel. 

  1. They require a stouter setup to haul in. Graphite rods matched with a 6000 series reel is a great setup. The 60lb test mainline with 45-65lb steel leader will work well. 
  2. Stinger rigs, hand-made or ready-made, can be purchased at the bait shops.  These consist of a 3ft leader attached to a 4/0 bait hook. Another 4-5in the steel segment will be connected to the theme with a #4 treble hook as the stinger. These are designed for trolling through and around the bait balls that Kings and Spanish mackerel are working on.  
  3. Live bait is the best bet and is caught with sabiki rigs, #6 or #8, jigged around the pilings, buoys, or amongst the evident bait schools.  
  4. Large threadfin and blue runners are the baits of choice. Troll about 4knots, and be sure to set the poles in tight to the rod holders as these kings hit that bait like a freight train.  

Check the local bait shops, Bait and Tackle of Apollo Beach, Palmetto Bait and Tackle, and Reel Em In Bait and Tackle, for the latest news on the sights of bait pods. 

Also, look for mackerel outside and inside the Skyway Bridge for Spanish and outside the Skyway, all the way out to marker 1, near Whistle Buoy, in the channel out of the bay for Kings. 

Why Fish This Inshore Charters?

At Fish This Inshore Charters, every Tampa Bay fishing charter is customized for its clients by Capt. Mike. From targeting the fish of choice/in season, offering action-packed adventures for children, creating an immersive flora and fauna experience to organizing corporate outings and wedding celebrations, Fish This Inshore Charters can make any fishing experience a delight. 

Captain Mike Murphy of Fish This Inshore Charters is a retired ecologist and syndicated author of the Tampa Bay Fishing Charters Report. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and at area outdoor expos. Along with its excellent network of veteran Tampa Bay charter captains, Fish offers expert fishing charters and unforgettable experiences.

Call or text at (813) 459-2521 to book a Tampa fishing charter or an Apollo Beach fishing charter or fill out the form here for a call back once Capt. Mike is off the water.