Tarpon fishing brings exciting fly action to our area. Earlier in the year as water warmed and baitfish became more prolific, large tarpon followed, populating local waters. Following the tarpon are predators, including a variety of sharks. Waiting patiently for a tarpon to take a fly can be a long day. Sharks frequently patrol tarpon hot spots, especially in shallow water. Modify your tarpon setup. Ideally, have a second rod rigged to save time. A 10-weight fly rod, 200 yards of 30-pound backing and a leader with a 4-foot 60-pound butt section, 20-pound tippet class tippet and a 1-foot wire bite tippet will attach to the fly. Use a Bimini twist to double the section next to the 40-pound single strand wire. Attach the wire to the double strand leader with an Albright knot. The bright orange or red fly, size 3/0, will need a haywire twist. Cast ahead of the shark and work the fly with a slow, teasing, erratic motion. A hookup will need several serious strip sets low and to the side, then hang on.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.