What's hot: Unseasonably warm offshore water temperatures have caused an early return of blackfin tuna. Recent trips have produced tuna 18-28 pounds.
Where to look: The fish have been in 150 to 250 feet of water, 50 to 80 miles southwest of Clearwater. Most have been caught trolling over peaks and ledges. Later in spring tuna often crash the surface but not yet. For now, blind fishing has brought the most catches. Traditionally shrimp boats cull their catch at daybreak, drawing tuna. We have not seen any working shrimp boats in the past several trips but found fish.
Tactics: Blind fishing can be done in several ways. The first is to troll open water and narrow your search as you get bites. The best lure is a cedar plug, in unpainted wood color. Small shiny feathered lures also work. We always put a cedar plug farthest from the boat in clean, bubble-free water; 100 yards or more back is not too far. Anchoring and chumming has also steadily produced tuna. A steady stream of chopped baitfish or shrimp heads brings the fish, particularly at daybreak and dusk. Medium-action spinning rods rigged with long fluorocarbon leaders are then used with live sardines or small pinfish.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.