Inshore: Although snook, redfish and trout action along the grass flats can be slow, other species do not seem to mind the heat. One late-season favorite for Tampa Bay anglers is the tarpon.
Look for them around thick schools of glass minnows or menhaden. Cast plugs such as slow-sinking MirroLures or swim baits such as the DOA Baitbuster. When the tiny baitfish are thick, the tarpon will swim within the minnow schools, slowly gulping mouthfuls at their leisure. If one of these shiny lures, resembling a much larger baitfish, is presented in the right spot, strikes can be instantaneous.
Another tarpon tactic is fishing at night under the bridges. The Gandy has long been considered the best, but the Howard Frankland and the Courtney Campbell also hold tarpon. Set up the boat under the bridge, then watch the edge of the shadow line where the light from the street lights meets the darkness. It won't be long before you see the silhouetted shape of tarpon from 20 to 100 pounds patrolling the edges. Pitching live bait to them is usually the best way to get connected.
Offshore: Surprising numbers of cobia have been caught around wrecks and ledges outside 60 feet. Most are being hooked with live bait on the bottom, but some have been caught at the surface when they come up to investigate the boat. The average size had been around the legal limit of 33 inches but several more than 50 pounds have been caught recently.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. Call (727) 944-3474 or e-mail info@lighttackle charters.com.