What's hot: Midsummer fishing can be spectacular. Big tarpon and even bigger sharks give many anglers the experience of a lifetime. Tampa Bay is a summer hot spot for bull sharks and late-season tarpon. Deep holes of 20 feet or more will often hold bait — and, in turn, predators.
Tactics and tackle: Use big cut baits such as half a mullet or half a mackerel to keep the catfish at bay and entice big fish. Tackle is the same, a heavy-action 7-foot rod, spinning or conventional, and a reel that can hold a few hundred yards of 50-pound braid. A heavy monofilament leader of a 125-pound test or greater or some heavy piano wire will work with a big hook. With 1-pound bait or better, use a 9/0 or 10/0 wide-gap circle hook.
Night options: Tarpon and sharks are excellent night predators. Tarpon can be found cruising the shadow lines of almost any bridge this time of year. Use a cautious approach with the trolling motor. Try casting artificial lures like a half-ounce bucktail jig with a Pumpkin Jigs 4-inch slammer tail as a trailer, both in white. This lure closely resembles a shrimp drifting by, which is what the tarpon are looking for.
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.