Tarpon are beginning their migration thru our area. For those who love the pursuit of the silver king itís been the better part of eight months since your last opportunity to attempt to fool the beast.
For some the thrill is in the hunt, a well-trained eye will pick up on the subtle rolls or daisy chain trailers, slick spots and other dead give aways alerting anglers of their presence. Picking up on these signs far enough away from the boat will allow you to make a stealthy approach and a calculated set up. This is the way of the beach angler; many variables occur on this playing field. Wind is most critical. Too much chop and your only option is to anchor and keep fresh baits in travel lanes. This is an effective way to fish under any conditions, especially if you do not have a trolling motor. Too much boat traffic will make fish spooky and tough to get to eat. So go early, as pre-dawn set ups usually results in the best shots of the day.
Itís no secret that big numbers of fish congregate in deep channels, such as Egmont and Boca Grande. When conditions are right these passes are absolutely lights out. Forget any ideas of solitude on a strong outgoing tide. There can be well over 50 boats concentrated in a couple of hundred-yards area. Itís busy. There is a ton of fish and the opportunity to hook a bunch of fish is reality. However, that doesnít mean that itís easy fishing. Those that do it properly are the ones that get rewarded.
The key is to find the lane that the fish are holding and line up for a drift. Freeline or lightly weight pass crabs or threadfins through the area. If you didnít guess right on the drift do not attempt to adjust by cranking up your motor and bumping toward the fish. You wonít make many friends that way. All area bridges, not just the Skyway, are also excellent tarpon holding spots and often provide good shots at fish that are usually willing to eat. Typically, the fish that are feeding will stage up behind pilings in current eddies. As baits are swept around the pilings they are intercepted by waiting tarpon. Anchor your boat between pilings so that you can cast up current and allow your bait to be swept around. Free-lined threadfins are often your best bet.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.