What's hot: Tarpon activity along local west coast beaches is at a peak, with many fish being seen daily. Because easterly morning winds will make the gulf flat close to shore, it is easier to see the fish. Get out at daybreak and stay close to shore with the sun behind you. The tarpon's back will glisten as it rolls on the smooth water surface. After a few trips anglers will get accustomed to the tarpon's favorite places to appear, giving anglers a pattern of preferred routes. Pick a relatively shallow, light-colored bottom area where fish can be seen far enough away to not surprise you. It's not unusual to see large tarpon inside the swim markers.
Strategy: For fly anglers, a close shot to undisturbed fish is ideal. Never chase tarpon with either an outboard or electric motor. Their ability to detect anglers will prevent them from accepting a well-presented fly. Position the boat ahead of the fish and have them come to you. Attempts to cast to fish going away or at more than a right angle are a waste of energy and if one spooks, they all will go.
Be prepared: Get an experienced fly caster to help you prepare to deliver quickly and accurately at the moment of truth. Do an Internet search for "Saltwater quick cast" and study and practice a technique that fits your comfort zone and abilities.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.