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Lure Smashing Spring Spanish Mackerel in the Destin FL Harbors and other shallow water spots nearby


After a long winter awaiting the return of the migratory summer species, March has come and rumors drift in-"the spanish are hitting in the bay!!".   The air is still chilly in the morning, water temperatures have creeped into the high 60's (F) range and the first harbingers of the migratory fishes have arrived for their inshore spawning run, feasting on the bristling schools of menhaden (also coming inshore after plankton)--Spanish Mackerel.  While the smaller spanish mackerel head into the upper reaches of the bay, the larger spanish (16"+) only come into the passes and only on the incoming tide. However, when they come in, they are mean!  Due to a quirk of geography and traffic, the Destin Harbor sits very near the Gulf of Mexico, and has a choke point where it enters the pass. This choke point witnesses a very high volume of boat traffic, and unfortunately for those menhaden discussed earlier, the boat props of all those boat mulch and maim the closely packed schools of bait.  Meanwhile, lurking under the menhaden mulch, those large Spanish wait for those injured menhaden for a quick meal.  The result if this carnage is drifting slick of blood punctuated by boils of toothy mackerel, right in the midst of the harbor entrance.  For an enterprising angler, any place that allows a cast between the boats into the harbor entrance is the place to be.  Armed with several floating plugs or crankbaits in the 4" to 6" range, 50# mono leaders, and a 8lb class spinning reel, an angler can experience a few hours of unmitigated violence, and return home with a few very tasty Spanish Mackerel.  As the plugs are tossed into the fray (look for brown froth, birds, and boiling fish), the need to be twitch violently to simulate an injured minnow.  As you jerk the plug near the surface, be prepared for the water to explode under it, and wait to feel the line tighten before setting the hook.  Setting the hook by sight will only set you up for disappointment.  Make sure you drag is set fairly light, as these mackerel will make one or two blistering runs before coming in.  Use a pliers to remove the hooks and exercise great caution, as every mackerel will bite and shake, and a treble hook is a bear to remove (I know this from experience!). While the tide comes in the action will be feast and famine-  15 minutes of action, 30 minutes of boredom, and another 15 minutes of action, as the schools of bait move in and out of the harbor entrance.  Pack lots of plugs, as they will be toothed and broken before the peak action is over, and many will loose their plastic lips.   This first action of the spring is unforgettable, and will definitely get you ready for the summer to come! NOTE: You can also get Spanish Mackerel in these spots too: End of the Grass Flat as the pass enters the bay, Off the beach past the third sand bar, off the Jetties, off the Shalimar Bridge, and off any ocean pier.

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The Destin Harbor in Destin Florida. (Emerald Coast Region)
Here are the core spots to look for spanish mackerel in the spring (note look for the same structures and current anywhere in the Atlantic or Gulf when Spanish Mackerel are around):
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Fishes you might see

Atlantic Spanish Mackerel

Crevalle Jack

King Mackerel

Blue Runner aka Hardtail




Inshore Lizardfish

Blacktip Shark

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