If you've fished for tarpon in the morning this past week and felt you haven't gotten the bites you should have, you're not alone. While fishing the late afternoon and after-dark hours during the full moon phase may at times be exceptional, the early daytime bite can be a challenge. A widely held belief is tarpon gorge themselves during the stronger-than-normal outgoing tides. During the full moon phase, this occurs during afternoon hours and into the night. During daylight hours, tarpon can be less responsive and shy away from offerings. Presenting a variety of baits sometimes increases odds of a hook-up. Though we saw enough fish to get a bunch of bites Thursday morning along the beaches of Manatee County, we only managed two: one on a big whitebait suspended beneath a cork, then a big one we caught on a dead shad fished on the bottom. Tarpon will continue to act like tarpon. How a school of 50 fish can swim through your baits, bump your cork out of the way and not one of them chews remains a mystery. As we distance ourselves from last Monday's full moon, look for tarpon feeding habits to return to normal. They're cruising the edge along the gulf beaches. They'll also gang up in the passes at Egmont Key, and there are nearly always some at the Skyway bridge.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.