What's hot: Tarpon fishing in Tampa Bay is red hot some days and ice cold on others. So patterning these fish has been tricky. Deep water near big bridges is a good place to check the first thing in the morning. But watch for bird activity because concentrations of glass minnows will often attract the tarpon (along with Spanish mackerel and ladyfish).
Tackle: These slow-rolling tarpon are suckers for a fresh dead bait (shad or mullet) soaked on the bottom. But they will also take artificial lures such as D.O.A. Baitbusters in black back gold fleck or pink TT Mirro-Lures.
Techniques: When the tarpon have been tough to find, we've still been successful along the bridges finding pompano, black drum, trout and Spanish mackerel on the down-current sides of the pilings. Catch just about anything around the pilings by bouncing a Crazy jig of three-eighth ounces rigged on a big loop knot with a pink teaser fly. And don't hesitate to free-line a big grunt behind the piling for a big summer trout. When targeting the black drum, try a Gulp! Crab rigged on a jig head. These brutes are often hanging around the first sets of pilings as you come into deeper water starting from shore.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.