Past trips: Tarpon were in the backwater areas of St. Petersburg. We scouted these areas at sunup for tarpon rolling on the surface. The best action came from free-lining a cut mullet on the bottom or casting a DOA Bait Buster to rolling fish. We cast the Bait Buster 10 feet in front of the roll and let it sink to the bottom. With a slow retrieve, lift the rod tip then lower it so the lure sinks back to the bottom. When you feel a strike, set the hook hard and get ready for the first jump. It's important to take pressure off the line during the jump. If the rod is bent hard during a jump the tarpon can throw the hook. Have the boat ready to follow the fish. Most of the areas holding tarpon have a lot of boat docks nearby for the fish to get tangled in. When they wrap the line around a piling, the line usually will get cut.
Best action: Most anglers report great action over the ledges and artificial reefs in 40 to 60 feet of water. The ledges are holding good numbers of grouper while the reefs have mackerel, barracuda, grouper and sharks. It's best to have a live well full of whitebait, pinfish and threadfins.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.