- Closed Season: None
- Size Limit: Minimum 12″ total length
- Bag Limit: 15 per person per day
Spanish mackerel are plentiful in Southwest Florida so long as the water temperatures are ‘just right,’ hovering around 70 degrees. The Spanish mackerel run begins around November in these waters and lasts until the water gets a little too cool for the mackerel and they make their way south. The run then picks up again around mid-March through May, when our waters get too hot and the fish migrate north again for the summer.
The best bite is early in the morning when they’re most active. Minnows and mullet are their favorite but artificial baits will get the job done, especially if it has shiny patterns of silver or gold. Spot Spanish mackerel in the surf or look for diving pelicans nearby – but be sure to drift to a mackerel spot slowly and quietly as this fish is easily spooked. Spanish mackerel are one of the quickest fish in the Bay – they aren’t like a lazy flounder who waits for bait to pass by. Far from lazy, the Spanish mackerel hunts down its prey, striking it quickly and aggressively – so keep your bait lively and retrieve it often if you want to entice a mackerel.
While they’re not the most desirable tasting fish in the Bay, they are very entertaining fighters and overall a very neat fish. If you do plan on eating your catch, be sure to bleed it out right away and eat it fresh as Spanish mackerel does not freeze well.