Beach tarpon have arrived. Light winds last week made for great conditions for sight-casting small pods of fish as they make their way southbound along Pinellas beaches. Higher winds the past few days caused by this week's cold front should subside early next week, setting the stage for some great opportunities for beach tarpon. Early morning starts are a must when it comes to beach tarpon. Staging up on the outside sandbar will allow you to make long casts to the fish. Best baits include live crabs, pilchards, pumpkinseeds, threadfins and pinfish. Cork your baits with about a 6-foot leader to help keep the baits near the surface where the fish are cruising. Remember always to be courteous to other anglers as a school goes by. There is a good chance another one won't be too far behind. Being patient pays off more often than being overaggressive as these big fish are smart and don't put up with much. Good numbers of upper- to over-slot redfish can be found throughout Tampa Bay. Strong incoming tides have been producing fish up to 15 pounds. Redfish can be found working the patchy bottom well off the mangroves at the lower tidal stages. Casting gold spoons, topwater plugs and a variety of weedless soft plastics will produce plenty of strikes as will free-lined live baits. Water temperatures are up and redfish are sneaking under the mangrove when the tide gets high enough. Pitching live baits or, better yet, fresh cut baits under the mangroves, concentrating on points and small cut-ins will produce fish during the middle part of the day.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.