Tarpon: My family wanted to experience the wrath of the mighty silver king, so we idled down our local beaches on Tuesday. After a few hours of searching to no avail, we anchored. A few lines were tossed far behind the boat. Threadfin herring was the bait suspended 8 feet from a bobber. The normal travel for tarpon this year has been extremely close to the swim buoys that outline Belleair Beach and Indian Rocks Beach. We anchored about 50 feet west of the buoys.
An unsuspecting bite: After about an hour with no bites, we decided to cool off with a swim. My two sisters, 9-year-old son, girlfriend and 10-month-old golden retriever jumped overboard. While we were splashing and having fun with the dog, a hungry fish swam past. In a matter seconds the fish grabbed the bait, taking out 150 yards of line. By the time I got everyone back in the boat, the 140-pound tarpon took its last jump. That's when the line parted against a barnacle-encrusted swim buoy. Before it broke off, everyone was able to experience the giant tarpon as it lunged from the water five times, viewing it all from sea level. They even got splashed by the fish as it tore through the surface.
Lesson learned: Even though the fish are not rolling, they are still available at times. We were caught off guard by the elusive tarpon, but saw some spectacular aerial displays. Numerous threadfin herring can be jigged up in the same locations we anchored, allowing anglers to keep fresh baits out at all times. This is extremely important during these heated months when water temperatures creep over the 80-degree mark. They last about 20 minutes before tiring.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, jawstoo.com or (727) 595-3276.