What's hot: Tarpon fishing has been red hot. The beaches, bridges and passes have all provided good numbers to suit any skill level. Live baits, lures and flies have been productive.
Match your tackle to the water being fished. Deep passes and bridges require heavier tackle. Fifty-pound braid and a rod that will take it is a good choice. Live baits are the norm, including pinfish, threadfins and crabs. For sight-casting in 10 feet of water or more, lighten up to 30-pound braid for added distance. A rod with a light tip and stout butt is a plus.
A challenge: Try a tarpon on the fly rod. Twelve weight rods and a reel to match are a good choice. Don't skimp on the artillery here. Stu Apte, bunny strip and toad style flies are popular along the gulf coast. A length of 80- or 100-pound fluorocarbon shock leader will be needed to protect your line from the tarpon's abrasive jaws.
Remember, the shallower the water, the more the fish will spook. In 50 feet you may get away with using the outboard. In 5 feet, forget it.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and be reached at (727) 560-6762.