Severe weather last week sent the local tarpon population offshore seeking clean water. As things settled, tarpon gradually returned to the beaches, passes and bay. They returned in small groups or as scattered singles and paused along the beach as they gathered into bigger schools. Unfortunately, when tarpon move offshore then return, they often bring unwanted predators. Big sharks have arrived along the coast in large numbers. Hammerheads and bull sharks are patrolling the usual tarpon traveling lanes just offshore. This has made tarpon very hesitant to bite. On several occasions we've cast at what seemed to be prime schools of tarpon that refused to bite. Then after numerous casts with no strikes we see the shadow of something big. Recognizing areas with high shark activity and moving away from them can save you frustration while tarpon fishing. Along the beach, areas with long stretches of empty sand bottom and clear water have been hunting grounds for sharks. We've done better in spots with natural hard bottom or areas where the water is very dirty. The difference in the attitude of the fish can be remarkable. In sharky areas, you might cast at a school for an hour without a bite. In areas relatively shark-free, you often get a bite on your first cast or even a doubleheader bite right away.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.