What's hot: Beach tarpon numbers are increasing, and pods of as many as 100 fish have been spotted. Now that the holiday weekend is over, you should be able to get shots at "happy" fish throughout the day.
Tactics: These pods are virtually impossible to spot while running on plane or even idling. They give little indication of their presence and will often be near the bottom. Find an open stretch of beach just after safe light, get close to the swim buoys so you can look to the west, drop a temporary anchor (I prefer the mushroom style so you can drag it with the trolling motor) and wait patiently for the fish.
Tackle: Big spinning tackle is the way to go. Spool up with 50-pound braided line, and with the clean water that we've had lately, 60-pound leader has seemingly made a difference vs. the 80. Typically a 5/0 offset J hook works well; if you prefer circle hooks, you might want to go up to a 6/0.
Observation: After tarpon fishing this holiday weekend, I came to realize it's not so much the pleasure boaters and jet skis working against you — it's mostly other tarpon anglers. These fish generally travel within a hundred yards of the swim buoys, so why run your boat on plane anywhere near that area?
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.