Mackerel Regeneration By: Capt. Mark Krowka
All eyes are firmly fixed and focused on the Gulf during the winter season in the Middle to Upper Keys. A plentiful amount of cold fronts passing cleanly through South Florida has dropped water temperatures down to the levels that are most favorable to thicken up migratory species and hold them on the Bayside of the highway. Many of the sought after targets, mainly Spanish Mackerel, bluefish, trout, and pompano, even spread out to temporarily inhabit main channels that connect to the Atlantic, starting in Tavernier, to include all major pathways down to Key West and beyond. Finding a productive spot is sometimes dictated by current weather, wind velocity, and direction. When the atmosphere is stable and conditions are calmer, venturing to the West and locating activity, or creating it while at anchor with chum, in 10 feet of water or more, is the ticket for busy action from a variety of light tackle animals. Here are some recent outings from the Gulf aboard the Maverick Mirage 18 HPX:
Dirk and Ross Hoyt from Houston, TX staked in on some grass/gravel composite bottom near the Bamboo Banks circuit and cranked up 109 fish with 11 species. They took some quality targets on 8-pound spin and chartreuse jigs sweetened with thumbnail-sized sections of formerly live shrimp. Sizzling Spanish Macks up to 6 pounds and bully bluefish of over 5 pounds, along with large ladies to 4 1/2 pounds and luscious lane snappers to 2 pounds all pounced on the deadly jig/shrimp combo.
Dawn and Doug Nelson from Alaska, parked just outside of Carl Ross Key and were toasty in 60-degree daytime temps. They defeated 133 fish with an impressive 18 species count that included Spanny Macks, trout, jack crevalles, redfish, sheepshead, black drum and black tip sharks. They used lime 3/8 ounce bullet jigs with fresh shrimp additives.
Charles Meolo from Mamaroneck, NY and Alexa Chiappetta from Norwalk, CT wedged in a couple of miles westerly of Oxfoot Bank and racked up 128 fish with 11 species on 10-pound spin and yellow jigs also tipped with shrimp. They battled 57 speedy Spanish up to 6 pounds with light, 30-pound coffee-colored wire shock tippet.
George Markelson from Islamorada fished two half days in the Channel Key Banks area with 1/4 ounce light green jigs and bits of shrimp pinned on. His first trip produced 74 fish and 10 species which included: 36 Span Macks up to a plump 7 pounds, with tasty pompano up to 2 1/2 pounds making a welcomed appearance. His second effort was good for 10 species and 68 fish, with a limit of macks on the same tackle. During a quick lunch break on this excursion, I picked up an 8 weight flyrod and pitched out a yellow/white/mylar 3 inch Klauser and got a ripping bite from the pictured razor-toothed mackerel.
George Markelson with pomp and mack double
Chris Wells from Arvada, CO and Cade Cruthers from Bartlett, IL were pinned to basins surrounding Man of War Key due to winds of 20mph, but worked hard while anchoring and chumming with 1/4 ounce bright lemon jigs with shrimp thirds attached, to pound out 17 species and 211 fish! They landed 78 Spanish Mackerels up to 6 1/2 pounds.
Rocco DeLuca Jr. from Fort Meyers was joined by John Mullen and Tysen Bowling as they fished close by and also tallied up 17 species with 213 fish! They contributed an amazing 89 Spanish toward the body count, mostly taken on 3/8 ounce tipped jigs, but then broke out the 8 weight flyrod with 2-inch custom-tied Klausers to enjoy the action.
Frank DeLucas from Plantation brought his 8-year-old son Frankie to a tide rip near the end of Nine Mile Bank during some 15-20mph hard NE wind to reel up 15 species, and 200 fish! The father and son team returned to the same zipcode with 11 year old daughter Makenzie, and they came to seriously fish, and tallied up 16 species and 261 fish including 91 Spanish Mackerels!!!!!!
Frankie DeLucas with beautiful big Spanish
Makenzie DeLucas with nice Spanny Mack
Maverick Blogservation: You might not equate this type of fishing, classic anchor and chum, with much forethought or stealth. However, a strategic presence of the boat in the water, solid and quiet, can make an enormous difference in the quantity, and especially the quality of fish taken at a spot. Even with fish that are not associated with being of a sensitive nature, covert operations are critical. Keeping ballast congruent in the hulls of the Mavericks, and thus taking advantage of the silent bow in the chop, goes a long way in holding fish close and comfortable behind the stern. A silent small boat will always out produce a larger noisy boat, in the Gulf, out on the patch reefs, or in any situation for that matter.
krowka with big mack on fly