What's hot: Juvenile tarpon from 5 to 30 pounds can be found milling around river mouths and deep residential canals. Rain has pushed many closer to the gulf. These pint-size versions offer the same excitement as the mature fish without the backbreaking work. When matched with the right tackle, these fish will make drag-screaming runs and acrobatic jumps.
Tackle: The same tackle used for redfish or snook works for juvenile tarpon. A 7-foot light-action rod will give the needed casting distance and keep you from pulling too many hooks. Match that with a 2500 to 3000 series reel loaded with 8- to 12-pound line. A 2-foot piece of 20-pound leader and a 1/0 circle hook will finish the setup.
Tactics: Early morning, late evening or just after a rain are the best times for rolling tarpon. If the tide is strong, cast just up current of where the fish breached. If there is minimal or no tidal movement, a cast in front of the fish is necessary. These fish also respond well to live chumming with scaled sardines. Another way to fish them is dead bait on the bottom. Anchor and toss chunks of cutbait in grouped areas around the boat. Put a hook in one piece and cast to the areas you've been chumming.
Seth Leto charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 385-0382.