The 2010 tarpon season continues to be one of the best in recent memory. Great numbers of fish have been moving along the beaches from Redington to Venice for quite some time.
We have worked the southern beaches for tarpon nearly every day since May 4, landing more than 100 fish with no strikeouts. This luck has been due to the sheer numbers of fish and modifying our game plan when the situations change. The schooling and feeding patterns of beach tarpon vary greatly, and adjustments are usually necessary to stay hooked up.
Bait: There is a noticeable shift in the food preferences of beach tarpon after each bimonthly strong moon phase. When the big tides are flushing crabs out of the inlets, the best live bait is a crab. As the tides slow down we usually get more strikes on live threadfin herring. In dirty water our secret live bait is the "pumpkinseed," known formally as the southern bumper. These flat, shiny fish produce a lot of flash, garnering attention in off-color conditions.
End of the line: We modify our terminal tackle day to day, sometimes from school to school depending on the attitude of the fish. For a week, very clean water and increased shark presence have made the fish finicky. To get bites we have dropped to 60-pound test fluorocarbon leader and a 4/0 hook. Leader lengths have increased to as much as 10 feet. In some situations we've darkened our floats to make them less obtrusive to the timid fish. Sometimes small adjustments make a big difference.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 944-3474.