Tarpon fishing has turned on along the north Pinellas coast. Fish are moving up from South Florida and out from the rivers to the mouth of Tampa Bay. The migrating silver kings continue their migration along the beaches, turning in and out of the passes with the tides to forage on bait and seeking protection from sharks in open water. On calm mornings with light winds, it's easy to spot them rolling as they ingest air into their swim bladder. Often they're moving quickly in pods, "greyhound-ing," as they move north or south. Those fish are hard to catch. Fish that are slowly rolling in a tight circle or "daisy chaining" are easier. They are apt to eat a sardine, threadfin, grunt or especially small crab placed in their path. Many anglers will choose a lane along the beach that the tarpon are likely to follow. Always give other boats a wide berth as you look for your own lane to work. Try moving quietly with a trolling motor to position yourself in front of the fish. Lead them by several yards if possible. Tarpon spook easily if baits are cast directly onto the school. Remember to use heavier gear when targeting tarpon. Although a long fight on light tackle is fun, it's harmful to the fish. A boat-side picture with the fish in the water is less stressful to them and will help in a quick recovery.
Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.