What's hot: Until Sunday's much-anticipated opening of gag grouper season, tarpon will continue to head the list. In 2 1/2 hours Saturday — despite gusting winds; rough, dirty water and nagging rain — we jumped 10 and caught four, and a half-hour of that time was spent chasing one down that threatened to spool us. A low tide change, a minor solunar period, a change in barometric pressure and a rising moon likely contributed to the fast, furious bite. Fresh bait also helped. We were fishing the beach off Manatee County, but similar reports have come from the beaches of Clearwater, Madeira Beach and St. Petersburg.
Tips: Runoff from rain had muddied the water in the 12- to 14-foot range just off the beach where we had been having success. Seemingly overnight the majority of migrating tarpon deviated from their pattern and moved out a little to cleaner water.
Technique: In rough seas with few fish showing, getting in line with the main flow can be challenging. Often it's trial and error, and sometimes the subtle distance of a cast or two can make all the difference. Saturday we had to adjust three times until we got it right.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.