What's hot: Tarpon fishing has taken off the past few weeks and will improve over the next month. Most bay fish are around the bridges, but a few tarpon have worked their way to the beaches. Early morning and late afternoon have generally been the best feeding times.
Tackle: Use stout spinning rods and reels or conventional revolving reel setups with at least 30-pound braided line. Attach 2 to 6 feet of 80- or 100-pound fluorocarbon leader to your line and tie on a 5/0 to 8/0 circle hook, depending on the type and size of your bait. Fly fishers will want a 12-weight rod with a reel to match that will hold a fly line and at least 250 yards of backing.
Bait: Try pinfish, whitebait, threadfin herring, shad or small pass and blue crabs. It pays to have a selection as tarpon may prefer one bait over another during the day.
Tip: Tarpon in deep water will tolerate a certain amount of boat traffic, but not in the shallows. Try to get well ahead of traveling fish and let them come to you.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and be reached at (727) 560-6762.