What's hot: New moon tides have sparked a tarpon bite along our Gulf beaches that's as good as I've seen this season. We've had double-digit hookups on our last couple of trips and released half a dozen tarpon from 70-140 pounds. Soaking shad on the bottom in 12- to 17-foot depths has been most productive. Because of the crab flow, much attention is focused on strong late afternoon outgoing tides. But our most recent action has been during the morning incoming tide.
Tips: As we get deeper into the season, it's not uncommon for "blind" fishing to outperform sight-fishing for tarpon. The huge herds are thinning and more difficult to detect migrating down the beaches. But through this month and next, rest assured there's a flow of silver kings up and down the beach during tides day and night. Some days, the only fish we've seen were the ones we put in the air.
Incredible catch: In 50-some years there have been two sawfish caught on my boat: In the early '90s, one just over 12 feet, and on July 4 while tarpon fishing in 15 feet of water off Longboat Key, a behemoth we estimated at 15 feet and 500 pounds. Now endangered and protected by the state, we quickly photographed and sent the sawfish on his way.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.