Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘mangrove snapper fishing’
Thursday, July 14th, 2011
During our summer months, the Florida Keys can be a bit warm…well actually, just down right hot. The hot summer days can be avoided by fishing at night, without the sun baking you like a roast.
You have many options to choose from, but my favorite is the incredible mangrove snapper bite. During the summer, mangrove snappers congregate out on the reef to spawn and this triggers the need to feed. You can break out the light rods for this style of fishing and make it a little more sporting.
When looking for a good area, it is important to find a nice piece of structure, whether it is in 18 feet or 60 feet of water. What you are also looking for is a nice flat spot where you will park the boat with the current going towards your structure. When you start fishing you will want to fish the bottom with a knocker rig. This rig is quite simple; I like to use a piece of 40 pound fluorocarbon leader which I tie to my main line with a double reinforced uni-knot. The reason I use fluorocarbon leader is not fort its vanishing properties, but for its abrasion resistance. I will slide enough lead on the leader for the amount of current that you have at that moment. Then I tie an offset 3/0 long shanked hook. The offset helps with your hook up ratio, and the long shank makes it easier to remove the hook later.
You don’t need a lot of chum for this style of fishing, just enough to keep a slick going. As the night progresses, you will start to notice the snappers will come off of the bottom. When they do this, I will take off the lead and just free-line my bait. You will also notice that there are plenty of pilchards swimming around the boat so don’t forget to bring your cast net, because you can catch all the bait you need right there. I always bring enough bait just in case the pilchards aren’t very thick, but they usually are. Live bait works well, but I find the fresh cut pilchards are the best. Another good trick is to limit the amount of light emitting from your boat; because the snappers are drawn to the boat by the chum they do not like the light. This is also why we tend to fish for the snappers at night near the new moon, not the full moon. If you have no control of the intensity of the light you will want to cast your bait out into the dark beyond the light.
Night fishing can really spice up your vacation! As I can recall, one night we had lots of snappers already so we started to use live bait on a flat line with wire. We got into an impressive kingfish bite. Almost as soon as the bait hit the surface we were hooked up with 10-15 pound kingfish. On this really light tackle we had some good drag screamers. When you put chum in the water you never know what can show up. While out there we caught many small sharks (Atlantic Sharp Nose), moray eels, a few red grouper and what’s really neat is the worm hatch. If you look in the dark you can see little green luminescent creatures. Actually the worm doesn’t glow, but it releases a fluid that glows which actually is spewed out to distract predators. These worms are the food for the pilchards so sometimes when you cut up the pilchards you will see the stomach contents will glow…pretty neat, at least to me it is.
Now remember to only take what you can use and don’t be wasteful with our limited resources. Fishing with conservation will preserve our excellent fishery for kids and their kids so don’t be greedy and enjoy the fun.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
This pas week we had a group of business owners who are clients of Auto Profit Masters that came to the Keys for a class and relaxation. What a great group of people from kids to grandparents I was able to find fish for them to catch.
The first day I took out Alan and his son, who fished me a couple of years ago. We headed out to the hump for a day of tuna fishing. When we arrived at the hump we saw an oasis of tuna. Tuna busting the water all over the place, jumping out of the water, terrorizing the bait on the surface. We caught tuna on the first drift and watching the tuna eat right behind the boat still gets my blood flowing. There were a few boats out there and they seemed to gravitate to my stern, causing them to scare the fish behind our boat to go down. To get the big tunas to eat behind the boat can take 100-300 freebees. We can only hold so many baits, so when another boat ruins our drift that’s just one less tuna we can catch. So when you are out at the hump be courteous, don’t troll or run your boat behind anyone, go in front of them so you don’t ruin their fishing.
After getting mugged by the other boats we started to jig the tunas and we were hooked up, mostly smaller ones than we were catching on the live bait. I had a game plan of jigging for a while until some of the boats to leave so we could live bait again. We caught lots of tuna on the jigs, and later in the afternoon we caught a bunch of 20-30 pounders on the live bait. I also dropped a bait down 400 feet to target amberjacks. The hump has some of the largest concentration of amberjacks which we were able to catch one over 50 pounds. What a great trip father and son, having the time of their lives catching and laughing, just a great time had for all.
On the next day I had out Brian and Kobi from Alaska, John and another Alan. Since I fished all last week for snappers, we decided to go out and find some for these guys. I went to one of my patches, which has been smoking hot all last week. We caught some, but it was a little slower than I had liked. We caught mangroves, mackerel, and yellowtail. They were on the smaller side, but they still taste good. We also caught about 15-20 small groupers, just about all the shallow water spices. We caught black, red, grasby, and red hind groupers. Most of them were small blacks around 18 inches long, but a good fight on light tackle. After catching 30 or so snappers we headed to some wrecks for some bigger fish. It was really slow, but I kept hitting different wrecks until we found one that was producing. It was a little weird, we would get bites on all the wrecks, but then after loosing a few the wrecks would shut down. This happens usually when there are predators around, but I think we just lost them in the wreck, which happens when we fish close to them. Finally we found a wreck, which produced a mutton snapper, our target species, and some amberjacks and almaco jacks. We kept one to smoke; they are wonderful for smoked fish.
On the third day I took out some of the staff from Auto Profit Masters, Will, Andy, Jake and Chad. It was a rough day to go to the hump but the bite was better out there then on the reef and wrecks. So we roughed it to the hump, a long trek out there but well worth it. We were the only ones out there and we caught tuna after tuna. The bite was as good or better than a couple days prior. The fish were all over 10 pounds, and some up to 20 pounds. Live bait wasn’t working very well, so we jigged most of them. Even in the rough water, these guys stuck it out and caught a tremendous amount of tuna. We didn’t keep them all, but enough for them to split up to take home. We had a close encounter with a hammerhead shark where I grabbed him by his dorsal fin. That’s how close he was to us, trying to eat our tuna we were able to get some good photos, and I got the silly notion to grab a hold of a green hammerhead shark. Once he noticed I had a hold of him he got upset and took off at a blistering speed. When we got back to the dock I had cut up some of the tuna for some fresh sashimi while my clients waited for their fish to be cleaned, another benefit of keeping my boat behind a restaurant that serves sushi.
On the fourth day I took out one of the Owners of Auto Profit Masters and his family. Since they had to do class that afternoon we were scheduled for a half-day charter, which would mean that we weren’t going back to the hump. So we hit the wrecks and caught amberjacks and almaco jacks. It was as good as it gets, double headers AJ’s take a while to get in, averaging a 30 minute fight we had enough time to catch eight 30-pound jacks. Smiles all around, the brute strength of these fish is tremendous. From catching walleye to 30 pound Jacks, there is just no comparison. Up in Colorado they fish for walleye and they were telling me it is like catching a plastic bag, they weren’t used to fish that fought back, so all in all they were extremely satisfied with there big fish experience.
Friday, December 3rd, 2010
As the leaves change color up north and people are decorating for the holidays, I am down here in the Keys getting my boat ready for all of you. The mad rush of people after the holidays is what I call the great start of our season. For those of you that haven’t booked yet, you better get on it, or you won’t get out on a charter boat. We will all be booked; so don’t miss out on the greatest part of your vacation.
The fishing has been pretty steady, between the sword fishing, sail fishing, grouper and snapper on the reef. This is a great time of year to fish, so many options to choose from. We can target the cobias and goliath grouper in the Gulf or fish the reef for yellowtail snapper, mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, grouper, and kingfish. Just outside the reef we will live baiting for sailfish, and catch some other species as well.
Just this past week I was reef fishing, and the yellowtails were biting good, it wasn’t long before we limited out and we changed our tactics to kingfish and we got a few ten pounders and one forty plus pound king too. My clients had a ball, and they ate well the whole week. One of the greatest ideas our restaurants had is to cook your catch. I don’t know when this started but the Keys have been doing it a long time. Bring in your fresh fish and have the restaurant cook it for you, it doesn’t get any fresher. Every restaurant will do this for you down here so take advantage of not having to cook it and then clean up after you’re stuffed from eating the freshest fish you can get.
I took out a family to the hump for some hot tuna action. It was so hot we hooked 50+ tunas but were only able to land a half dozen. We had a shark problem, which I have never seen it so bad. We had four or five sharks swimming around the boat at any given moment. We hooked tuna and fought them to the boat only to have the shark eat it before we can get it close enough to gaff it. After about 20 shark bite offs, I asked my clients if they wanted to do something else, but they said it was great to hook a fish fight it and then feed it to a shark. So we stayed and kept feeding the sharks. I always try to keep my clients happy and they were smile all around. We had fresh sushi at the dock when we got back and a few cocktails always end a great fishing trip. I look forward to fishing with them again.
I had a shot to go sword fishing this week too, it was stormy and rough but we ventured out there anyways. We had many bites, just couldn’t get them to swallow the bait. We finally got one to eat and we caught him after a short battle. It was too small to keep so we took some quick photos and released him back to grow up. We had a few more bites after we release the small fish but never hooked up again. It can be difficult to get these predators to eat the bait sometimes. But when they do, hold on you will be in for a battle.
I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, may this coming year be better than the last, and come on down forget your troubles and lets go fishing.
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — People go many places on vacation, but a few of them visit the Keys and get hooked. We live in an extraordinary place — good fishing and sophisticated food. I don’t mean just fried fish and Key Lime Pie, but out on top…the cutting edge. The people that fish down here come from every walk of life and that is no joke.
The reef at night has been great, many big mangroves, muttons, and some jumbo yellowtail. As well in the daytime, yellowtails have been chewing, but fishing them in the fast current was a little challenging. The patches yielded small yellowtail, but big enough to keep and make a meal. Fishing the wrecks has produced a few good fish, but since the spawns are over for the most part, mutton fishing here in Marathon has slowed down. Don’t get me wrong; there are a few nice fish to be had on any given day.
Offshore is where I finished these past couple of days, and the Tuna bite has been decent late in the afternoon. It was good during most of the day on Thursday, but with people operating their boat like morons, I had to slow down, and in some cases I had to just pick my baits up and move from the area. I actually had a guy troll over top of me on the hump. His bait came flying over the gunwale, smacking my center consol before making a hasty exit. Thank god my clients were back at the stern reeling in fish. I mean, we were stopped fighting fish and somehow this guy came that close to literally troll through my boat.
On Wednesday, I fished a half-day snapper in the morning and then left for a full day from 1:00pm to 9:00 pm. The afternoon full day can only happen in the summer, we had just enough light to fish the whole time and then came home in the dark. We caught some nice dolphin and tuna…well, we saw two dolphin and caught them, and then fished the hump where large fish were actually eating trolled baits. Trolled ballyhoo or cedar plugs did the trick that day.
After all the fishing, it is always nice to sit down and eat a nice meal. After a day of fishing, some sushi and oysters sounds good to me. I ordered some Oysters Moscow from Castaways, which is a raw oyster with two types of caviar and horseradish sauce on it. Very good, it gives it another step up from just a great oyster. The flavor just pops in your mouth.
I also ordered two of their special sushi rolls, a 2-year roll, and a surf and turf roll. The 2-year roll has chopped tuna on top, with an inside-out roll of shrimp tempura and asparagus, cream cheese, and something else I can’t remember. The surf and turf roll has prime rib on top with lobster tempura and some other ingredients too.
Let me tell you one thing though, the custom champagne hand rolls are off the hook. My favorite is the salmon, tuna, white tuna, with Japanese mayo, massago, and a quails egg yolk. Yummmmmm that’s some good eating.
Monday, August 9th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Fishing at night has been the ticket. You beat the heat and the snappers are swarming. We headed out to reef the past two days and looked for some good marks in 35-45 feet of water and threw the hook. An hour after dark the bite is on.
I started to fish with a half oz. of lead on my knocker rig and as the night progressed we ended up using a 1/8 oz. sinker. I didn’t switch because of the slowing current, as a matter of fact the current picked up. It is almost free lining, keeping the bait down but not on the bottom. Every once in a while I will hold the line and the bait will rise up and then I feed it back, waiting for the bite.
Last year I cast-netted 180 quarts of sardines, which I am still using. I saved the baits all year so that I would have them for the summer months of nighttime mangrove fishing. Sardines are perfect bait for the snappers because of their size and the amount of oil in them. They don’t stay on the hook real good but they are definitely preferred bait by the mangroves.
Each night we were able to capture a few other species other than mangroves. Almost every night we have caught a legal red grouper and one night we caught a small cubera about 10 pounds and the other night we caught a few mutton snappers around 8 pounds.
The current has been good, in the west-bound direction. It doesn’t take long for the bait to show up so don’t forget the cast net. I will switch back and forth from the sardine to pilchard and I mainly chop up the pilchards into chunks and chum with them, but if you don’t have sardines they will work fine.
Good luck and keep only what you can use — conservation starts with us.
Friday, July 23rd, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — This has been interesting fishing these past weeks! With the wind blowing from 15-25 knots, I have stayed close to shore. We fished the reef, which yielded nice yellowtail from 1-3 pounds and a few goliath groupers from 20-60 pounds. The current was slow but enough which allowed the chum to trickle down the reef. We also fished the thunderbolt and got mugged by sharks one day and the other day we were invaded by blue runners. Blue runners and small bonita have been swarming all month.
While fishing for grouper on my yellowtail spots we also got a few nassau groupers, which are protected and we released them unharmed to fight another day. When you got your yellowtail spot all chummed up it is always good to drop down some small baits like half of a ballyhoo or small pinfish for some great mangrove action.
Speaking of mangroves, the bite has been great at night. Don’t rush out there, because the bite hasn’t started ’til late. If you leave around 9:00PM you will be able to fish for a few hours to get your limit. Fishing out in Federal waters you are allowed to keep ten mangroves, but if you fish close to shore in state waters you may only keep five mangroves. Make sure you know where you are fishing so as to not accidentally go over your legal limit.
The bait has been abundant so you really don’t need to bring a lot out with you. Pilchards and gogs are swarming, and all you need to catch them is a few sabiki rigs or a cast net if you know how to throw one. I prefer to drift back large baits for the bigger mangroves. The small ones can peck at it until the big one comes and steals it from them. My rig is usually 40-pound leader with a small slip sinker like 1/16th –1/8th oz. I slowly drift back the bait until I get a taker and I feed the bait for about 6-10 feet before a set the hook. You don’t get every one, but if it is a big fish he will have that bait down his throat and you should hook almost all of them. You don’t need lots chum, just enough to keep the bait around the boat, which keeps the snappers there.
Towards the end of this week we fished for muttons and amberjacks. Since this is the last moon of the spawn we took advantage of it. We didn’t set the world on fire but we managed 3-6 muttons each day with lots of other action such as amberjacks, jack crevales, and kingfish. There has been an abundant amount of kingfish this week, which is a little unusual. We have kings all year round, but during the summer months they are few and far in between. We even got one that pushed 40 pounds but most of them are 10-15 pounds. They aren’t the best eating, but if you smoke them they are out of this world.
The dolphin picked up this past week, with fish from 6-30 pounds. I haven’t been out there, but my friends have shot out there a couple of times this week and have come back with some impressive catches. On Thursday, Big Time Bait and Tackle put on a tournament with Maui Jims Sunglass Co. I was one of the lucky individuals who took out one representative and writers from all of the major fishing magazines for a day of fishing. It was supposed to be a dolphin tournament, but since it was blowing 20-25 knots, we all weren’t going offshore…so they changed the rules to heaviest weighable fish.
I ended up winning with a 39-pound amberjack. It was just a friendly tournament, but the writer who caught the biggest fish won a trip to Hawaii. This whole trip was set up to let these writers experience the Maui Jim’s sunglasses. I got to try on a bunch of them and I am hooked. I really saw the difference between my Costa’s and the Maui Jims; I am a Maui Jim guy now. We also caught three large muttons around 18 pounds a piece.
Just to let everyone know, there is no oil down here and hotels are starting to drop their prices so come on down and enjoy the Keys like the rest of us are!
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — After getting back from the Bahamas, I was booked everyday for just about the rest of the month. We started off the week with some dolphin fishing, which wasn’t how I left it. All we could find were illegal dolphin. After running out as far as 40 miles only to find some smaller fish, we decided to do some deep dropping. Since there wasn’t much current we were dropping five pounds of lead to 1200 feet of water and holding nicely. We caught eight rose fish and four barrelfish in five drops. That was pretty good fishing. On the way in we encountered some more small dolphin and skipjack tuna.
The next day we went wreck fishing. We caught five amberjacks and three muttons. The muttons seem to biting from 140-180 feet of water. They weren’t biting great but we did miss quite a few other fish, which could have been other muttons as well. We tried heading offshore again for a few days only to catch a few schoolies, which were legal to harvest. The bite at the hump was slow, too; lack of current seemed to have hindered all the fishing.
I went yellow tailing only to have the lack of current hinder that as well. So we went mutton fishing and caught a few muttons from 15-20 pounds. We also got our fair share of amberjacks too. While we were yellow tailing I dropped some pinfish to the bottom. The bottom bite was active. We caught two goliaths from 30-70 pounds, a Nassau grouper weighing in at 25 pounds and plenty of five-pound mangrove snappers.
Towards the end of the week I heard of a few big fish being caught or seen, but not much. The large schoolies have been numerous east of the Marathon Hump from 1100-1300 feet of water. Basically all you wanted if you wanted to travel that far to the east. Most of the fish have been reported from Holiday Isle to Caloosa Cove.
The mangrove spawn is just starting, so get out of the heat and fish at night from 25-70 feet of water. Lots of bait out on the reef too, so you might want to bring your cast net or sabiki rigs.
Sunday, April 11th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Spring is here, thank God. It seems that our cold days are in our past. The water temperature has been warming and soon we will be in full swing with lots of dolphin. The Gulf Stream has moved in and out this week, this has caused the shallower water to warm as well as the heat from the sun too. Keep you eyes and ears open because it isn’t going to be long before the dolphin come pouring through.
I have been all over the pace this week. I fished the deep, the shallow and all the places in between. In the beginning of the week we went out for tunas at the hump and did very well. Most of the tunas were perfect size, not too small to eat and not too big where the meat gets really red. I prefer the 10-20 pounders…they have pinkish meat and I believe it is the best tasting. We filled the cooler with all the tuna my clients could eat and then we took a short ride to the west to fish for queen snapper. We caught tilefish, and queen snappers — good size to them as well. The fish have been averaging 12 pounds, but we have been getting a few close to 20 pounds.
The next charter this past week was a guide trip. A guide trip is when I jump on my clients boat and I give hands on training of the rigs, bait, and the area. If anyone is interested in this please give me a call…I would love to help you out! My client Dave wanted to learn about the reef so we went yellow tailing. It took a while for the yellowtails to pop up, but once they did we caught a few before they got spooked off buy the numerous kings and mackerel…or maybe it was the current (or lack of). We tried every trick in the book and they still wouldn’t bite. So I move to another spot out in 88 feet of water.
We marked a nice school, but I hadn’t been in this spot for quite some time now, so who knew that we would get into some great mangrove action? Most of them were 3-4 pounds, but none smaller than 2 pounds. After the bite died off, we switched to a jig, and whipped-jigged kings and mackerel on 8-pound test line. What a blast that was! All throughout the day we were catching grouper on the bottom with a small 1’4 oz jig tipped with a small pinfish. We were targeting muttons, but only caught groupers and mangroves. We probably caught 20 groupers (gags, reds, and blacks) and half of them were keepers, which we released unharmed to get a little bigger. I can’t wait till the grouper season opens, it’s killing me to release such quality fish, but the law is the law.
My next charter was another guide trip and we did our tuna thing for while when we finally caught some small ones, which we bridled up on two Tiagra 50 wides with 80-pound test. My client wanted to troll live tuna around the hump, so we did. We didn’t get any strikes but the anticipation of what might eat our baits really got our blood flowing. One of these days we will get a big marlin or maybe a mako. While we trolled around trying to get the smaller tunas we picked up one dolphin, which was a bonus. After a few hours with no strikes we went deep dropping and we caught a 60-pound wreckfish, rosefish, and a barrelfish. Unfortunately we were unable to keep the wreckfish due to its “no take” status. They are commercially taken but recreational anglers are not allowed to posses this fish.
On Sunday we headed out o look for yellowfin tuna, but we couldn’t find any. It was a desert out there, no dolphin and no yellowfins. We did manage to catch a sailfish on a squid spreader bar. We looked all over for birds but to no avail. I was using an open array radar to search for the birds, but we only found a few and they were just flying.
Good luck and keep it safe.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — It sure has been a while since I had a day off, but you wont hear me complain. Many people who usually come down to the Keys may not make it this year, but since there has been trouble in Mexico, the people who got a few bucks for a good time came down here. Some of my clients this week told me that they were going to go to Cancun but changed their plans due to the problems and threats that heard on the news. Last year it was a swine flu epidemic that caused people to stay in the country.
This week I spent a lot of time offshore, which was very productive as long as you fished the humps and deep dropped on ledges. The humps from Islamorada to Marathon have been packed with boats. The tuna and amberjack bite has been red hot. There have been much bigger amberjacks on the Islamorada Hump but still plenty of them on the Marathon hump to put any tackle you have to the test. The tunas have been smoking hot and their size has been good with many fish from 10 pounds and up. I only caught small ones when we pulled feathers. I only did that to get small ones for bait, the amberjacks love small tunas. You can fish them live or dead, but if you fish them live make sure you use enough lead to take them down three hundred feet to where the amberjacks are holding. It is better to have more lead than less, the tunas are hard swimmers and three pounds may seem like a lot but it will get the tuna down to the amberjacks. Using larger baits will ensure that you can get some of the largest fish out of this gigantic biomass of amberjacks that inhabit the hump.
The dolphin have been almost nonexistent, but there have been a few caught inside of 200 feet and some caught around floating debris out in the 600’s. With the water temperature in the low 70’s the dolphin will not be found in any numbers. I don’t know if it is just me but I can’t wait for the temps to rise, I am looking for the first push of dolphin. It probably won’t happen until the end of April but we can only hope.
The shallow wrecks have been over run with large amberjacks, and the word got out, the well-known wrecks looked like a parking lot. Everyone has been jockeying for the best position on the wrecks. Being in the right area of the wreck makes a whole lot of difference between catching and watching the boat next to you catching.
Reef fishing hasn’t changed much, it is still kind of slow for the most part, but the patches to the west of the seven mile bridge are producing a bounty of groupers and snappers. Most of the snappers are small muttons, and yellowtails with a few big mangrove snappers thrown in the mix.
The bay is full of mackerel, snappers, and groupers. Fishing the large deepwater grass beds near banks have produced for me very well. It doesn’t matter where you are, the mackerel will find you with a good chum slick. The best areas are about 7-10 miles strait out in front of the Seven Mile Bridge. Spoons and jig-n-shrimp combo works well too.
Get out there and fish and if you enjoy fishing please sign the petition to ensure that our favorite past time is still here to pass on to our kids. The web site for the petition is here.
Monday, November 9th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Windy days have kept just about everyone at the dock. Just before the wind started the sailfish bit really well, with multiple hook ups and as many as ten fish being released in a day. The sailfish have been just off the edge of the reef from 100-150 feet of water. While live baiting we have caught kingfish and a few cobia to my surprise. The cobia started to migrate through but most of them are being caught on the gulf wrecks. The bait has been easy to get from ballyhoo to pilchards. The bottom fishing has slowed down a bit but I am sure we will get them to push down as the water up north starts to cool down.
The reef has been hot, and yellowtails are chewing really well. The conditions have been close to perfect, with a nice current to the east and when the wind was light it had no effect on the boat in the current. Now we will start having stronger north and southeast winds which, will make us have to bridle the boat so that our chum flows out the back of the boat for optimal performance. When you have a cross wind from the current the boat will swing a lot and the yellowtails will chase the boat back and forth. This will separate the school a bit and cause them to be a little picky. So we want to make sure we bridle the boat and not only does this help to keep the chum flowing back behind the boat, but it also acts like a stabilizer to keep the boat from swinging. Sometimes there is just no stopping the boat from swinging on anchor.
The sword fishing has been good when we are able to get out there, but the deep dropping has slowed down a bit, only a few snowys and tilefish. When I do get out far the barrel fish are still biting, but they slowed down too. This is the time of the year when the swords have migrated south from the northern parts of the east coast and are spreading out all throughout the Caribbean.
To beat the wind a lot of us run out into the bay for some great mangrove snapper fishing. The gags, goliaths, and red are out in full force on those small wrecks in the bay too. Soon the mackerel will show up in full force to make mince meat of whatever you throw at them. Most guys use live pilchards, but shrimp, and most cut bait will work. Even small spoons can be deadly for those toothy critters.