What's hot: Although it's widely held that many species of fish feed more actively at night during the full-moon phase than during daylight, tarpon fishing Sunday morning proved to be the exception. A minor solunar period coupled with the end of the outgoing tide and beginning of the incoming provided nearly perfect conditions, and the tarpon were flowing. We caught and released five and jumped and lost several others. Father and son Jan and Jason Musgrave of St. Petersburg teamed up for two doubleheaders and a few estimated at 150 pounds. While anchored in 14 feet of water off Longboat Key, we saw many fish rolling on the surface. Most of them were southbound, and many were in small schools.
Bait: Most of the bites were on the fresh dead shad we offered fly-lined on the bottom, but a few aggressively whacked live pinfish suspended beneath corks. Checking and changing baits often is essential when using this technique. Schools of ravenous pinfish and crabs have gathered along the Gulf Beaches and will pick away at dead baits intended for tarpon.
Tips: Chumming works for nearly all types of fish, and tarpon are no exception. Tarpon that might otherwise pass by might be drawn to baits by a generous amount of cut chum spread around the boat.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.