What's hot: Backwater tarpon fishing usually peaks around the middle of July and remains good through August. Plenty of the tarpon already have made their way deep inside Tampa Bay and are staged around bridges, river mouths, marinas and general bait-holding areas.
Location: Stagnant, slick, calm days are best for catching tarpon. The fish come to the surface and gulp air frequently when the water is flat. However, if the surface has a slight chop, it's more difficult to see the fish roll and you will have to rely on where you last found fish or on bird activity.
Tactics: Most often, a slow-sinking plug works as well as a live or a dead bait. Cast in front of where the fish rolled and start a slow, straight retrieve. Natural colors — including olive, black, gold (to mimic shad) and root beer (to mimic crabs) — are known producers. Use 8-foot rods that allow accurate 30-yard casts, a reel large enough to hold 30- to 50-pound braid and 60- or 80-pound flourocarbon leader.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at [email protected]