What's hot: Mid-summer can be spectacular if you target the right species. Big tarpon and even bigger sharks can blister a reel. Tampa Bay is a summer hot spot for bull sharks and late season resident tarpon. Deep holes of 20 feet or more often hold bait this time of year, and in turn predators.
Tactics: Big cut baits, such as half a mullet or half a mackerel, keep catfish at bay and entice big fish. Tackle is the same for both species — a heavy action 7- to 8-foot rod, spinning or conventional, and a reel that can hold a couple hundred yards of 65-pound braid. A heavy monofilament leader of 80-pound test or greater or heavy piano wire will work for both species as long as you're using a big enough hook. With a 1-pound bait or better, use a 9/0 or 10/0 wide gap circle hook.
Night options: Tarpon cruise shadow lines of almost any bridge this time of year. Use a cautious approach with a trolling motor. Try casting artificial lures like a half-ounce buck tail jig with a 4-inch soft plastic jerk bait tail as a trailer, both in white. This lure closely resembles a shrimp drifting by, which is what the tarpon are looking for.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at [email protected]