What's hot: Late-summer fishing can often mean hot, stagnant conditions. But with no wind, this can be prime time to hunt backwater tarpon. Tarpon incorporate oxygen from the surface with oxygen in the water, allowing them to live in areas that would be unappealing to other gamefish.
Where: Tampa Bay holds plenty of tarpon this time of year. Tarpon surface more actively when the water is smooth. Target deep areas around bridges, river and creek mouths; deep holes around the ports, and bird activity.
Tackle and tactics: Two popular methods for catching tarpon are casting plugs to surfacing fish and soaking baits on the bottom, where fish are rolling the most. Plug fishing can be excellent when the fish are active. Plugs such as D.O.A. Baitbusters and Mirro-Lure TT's and 65m's will produce. Use a long rod and a reel with 30- or 40-pound braid and 18 inches of 60- or 80-pound leader. Bottom fishing with cut mullet or mackerel will work when the sun gets high and the fish refuse the plugs. Composite rods will give way a bit on strikes, resulting in fewer thrown hooks. Large baitrunner-type spinning reels work great. Tighten the baitrunner feature all the way. An 80-pound mono leader and a big circle hook such as a 9/0 or 10/0 will help to ensure that the fish doesn't throw the hook on the first jump.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.