What's hot: Above-average temperatures this winter and spring have had tarpon showing up early. For the next couple of months, large schools of migrating tarpon will be along gulf beaches and the Intracoastal Waterway. Stronger tides will have tarpon congregating around most deepwater passes along the coast. Strong afternoon outgoing tide will provide them with crabs, shrimp, mullet, and other baitfish.
Tactics: Look for schooling fish at all levels of the water column. Tarpon may cruise the floor, lay in potholes or roll on the surface. When a pod is located, position your boat to present baits as the tarpon cruise by. Suspend crabs, pinfish or threadfin herring beneath corks at varying depths. Another tactic best used when fishing the strong outgoing tides around the full and new moon is bridge fishing at night. Free-lining a live threadfin in the eddy behind the pilings is most effective. Casting shrimp or scaled sardines to fish cruising the shadow line of the bridge can also be effective.
Tackle: Medium 20- to 30-pound class spinning outfits lined with 30- to 50-pound mainline are standard setups when sight fishing tarpon. To finish the rig, tie on a couple feet of 60- to 100-pound leader and a hook that matches the size of the bait you're using.
Seth Leto charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at [email protected] and (727) 385-0382.