What's hot: With the weather finally beginning to settle down after multiple storms, water clarity has improved. This stability has brought many larger tarpon into the waters along Pinellas County beaches. Schools of these migrating fish are easily spotted at good distances. Appearing as large, dark masses in 10 feet or more, the midday sun can assist in finding less pressured fish. The deeper water can also help in disguising the bait presentation. Longer fluorocarbon leaders are necessary, and downsizing hooks to possibly 4/0 can be key factors in hooking up to a silver king. Pinfish, threadfins and smaller silver mullet are top choices for a day of tarpon fishing. On calmer days, boat noise can shut down any chance of getting close. Trolling motors, run at low speeds, can help to position a vessel in the path of rolling fish. To not scare these already finicky fish, always lead the bait way out in front of the school.
Bait tips: When catching threadfins or big sardines to present to tarpon, quality counts more than quantity. Instead of using a cast net, it is best to use a sabiki rig to hook fresh baits. These whitebaits will look cleaner with fewer scales missing and last twice as long in the well. The multiple-hooked rig that works best comes in size 8 with white and green feathers.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 439-9017.