This time of year it’s all about Spanish mackerel on the beach. Just pick any spot along the beach, from right up to the surf, to depths of 15 to 20 feet of water, and the mackerel will be there. The area known as Pecks Lake is famous for the Spanish mackerel run. The spot is located approximately 3 to 5 miles south of the St Lucie inlet. It’s also known as the Kingfish Hole. Just look for the parade of boats and start fishing. I like using small white or yellow jigs. Typically we don’t use wire. Mono leader will get you more bites, but you tend to lose a few jigs so be sure to bring plenty. When the Spanish macks get picky, you can entice them with chum. Glass minnows or small pilchards work well. If you plan on chumming, do it from an anchored boat. Before you know it, the whole school will be feeding heavily in your chum slick. The mackerel range anywhere from 2 to 6 pounds. Fly rodders, it’s easy fishing as the mackerel are willing participants and you don’t need a 100-foot cast. Light tackle is the norm. I use 7-foot light action rods with 3000-size reels spooled with 10-pound test braid. If you have children, bring them along because the action is usually non-stop. Inshore, it’s pompano time. There’re two ways to fish for the pompano in my area. The beach goers usually use sand fleas, which can either be purchased from your local bait and tackle shop or you can catch your own at the beach with a sand flea rake. I like using artificials, and for me, it’s a Doc’s goofy jig with a yellow body and pink feather. Productive areas are the Sailfish Flats around the crossroads area and the Hell’s Gate area in the St Lucie River. How do you find the pompano? We usually idle around those two areas until we skip the pompano. Once we’ve caused them to skip (or jump), we start fishing. Pompano are excellent tablefare. Trout and redfish can still be caught during this time of year. We usually find these fish in a little deeper water due to the drop in water temperature. The key to catching fish during this time of year is to downsize your offering and slow down your presentation. Two baits I swear by are the DOA shrimp and the DOA TerrorEyz in rootbeer color.Offshore, it’s sailfish, sailfish, and more sailfish. Wintertime is the best time for sailfishing. Although sailfish can be caught all year long, we see greater numbers of fish released during the winter months. The preferred method is to dangle live goggle-eyes, large threadfins, or even large blue runners. In my area, the fish will be just off the reef in anywhere from 90 to 300 feet of water. Blackfin tuna have made a comeback in my area. Typically, our blackfin average 2 to 5 pounds and can be caught trolling small baitfish patterns. There will be some dolphin caught this time of year, as well. Typically, those livebaiting for sailfish catch their share of dolphin. The bottom bite is consistent with mutton snapper and yellowtail snapper being the most plentiful. We do see some respectable grouper brought in during the winter months, as well. For bottom fishing, it’s as simple as getting a box or two of frozen sardines and sending them down on fish finder rigs. If mutton snapper are your main target, 25- to 50-foot leaders are the norm.Until the next issue, tight lines!
A native Floridian, Capt. Ken Hudson was born in Jacksonville and moved to Jupiter, Florida in 1968. He grew up fishing on the Loxahatchee, St. Lucie and Indian River. After graduating from the University of Central Florida, he returned to his old stomping grounds of Jupiter, where he began running charters. Capt. Ken specializes in light tackle, live bait and artificials. He fishes the Stuart, Jupiter, Ft. Pierce and Palm Beach areas of the Treasure Coast for such prizes as snook, tarpon, goliath grouper, redfish and trout. He offers both inshore and offshore charters. With more than 26 years of experience, Capt. Ken has appeared on several fishing shows airing on The Sportsman’s Channel, Sunshine Network and The Outdoor Channel. Contact Info: Capt. Ken Hudson(p) 561 723-5654(e) firstname.lastname@example.org(w) snookcitycharters.com