What's not hot: Though the passing weather system responsible for the pounding rains and gusty west winds this week have slowed the tarpon activity, it is only temporarily. As we return to our typical summer weather pattern of light easterly winds, look for action to fire back up, particularly along our gulf beaches.
Technique: Chumming has long been effective in nearly all the fishing we do, and tarpon are no exception. Heavy chumming can often slow an oncoming school of tarpon and draw them to your presentation of baits. Chumming with the same bait we're using works well, and shad is my first choice. Each shad can be cut in 10-12 pieces, and we sling them in all directions around the boat. With a hundred tasty morsels all around your baits, the odds increase dramatically that tarpon eventually will find one with the "toothpick" in it.
Tip: An increasingly popular method when tarpon fishing is "chunking," which is particularly effective in an area with good tidal flow. Pieces of greenbacks, whitebait or shad are cut into chunks and steadily let out the back of the boat. Tarpon might be drawn to the chum line and gang up, much the same way mackerel or kingfish do. Using those same chunks or a little larger, fly-line your baits into the mix. Allowing your hooked baits to appear as natural as those that aren't is key. Keep the spool open, and feed the slack out by hand. They now make light-wire hooks that are extremely strong and ideal for this method. Check with your tackle shop.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.