Watch the birds: One of the hottest bites of the year is here. While patrolling the beach for tarpon, look offshore and watch for birds. Gulls and terns can spot easy pickings from a mile away. If you see a lot of bird activity, head their direction. If the birds are sitting on the surface, baitfish are usually not far away. The noise caused by predators pushing large schools of baitfish to the surface can be a loud roar accompanied by diving, and very vocal, birds. As little tunny, jacks, ladyfish, mackerel and sharks tear into the panicky bait, position your boat so the fish come to you. Use the tide and wind to your advantage. Minimize outboard use when close and make long casts. This is the time to break out a fly rod. Nine-weight rods with a sinking tip line require a 4-foot, 25-pound leader with a wire bite tippet connecting your fly. Larger fish are always deeper. A large arbor reel with a smooth drag will need 150 yards of 30-pound backing. Strip fast using a white fly that matches the baitfish size.
Tip: Small binoculars let you scan long distances and avoid unnecessary running and gunning. Companions or clients will enjoy helping you locate feeding fish under active birds.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.