This is the time when the shipping channel and most area passes are filled with massive schools of baitfish. Little tunny (bonito or false albacore) are following these smaller fish and offer opportunities for fly rod enthusiasts. A moving tide, either incoming or outgoing, gets these speedy predators active. Noisy diving terns and gulls will tell you where the fish are. The action will be seen by others who often mistakenly motor into the school, putting the fish down. A bow-mounted electric motor is ideal for positioning your boat ahead of the fish, letting them come to you. For outboards, idle into position well ahead of the action and shut off your motor. Cast your 9 weight fly rod with a sinking tip or intermediate full sinking line ahead of the fish. Larger fish are usually deeper so give weighted flies a little time before starting a fast retrieve. Use small flies the size of escaping baitfish. Instead of one hand stripping, place the fly rod under your arm and use both hands, moving the fly very fast. Use reels with a good drag and 150 yards of backing.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.