What's hot: Tarpon fishing will get hot today through Saturday. The best action will be in the afternoon outgoing tide, when the crabs flow out of the passes, the tide flows hard and the wind blows out of the west. The strong tide will push the boat westward, and the wind will keep the boat from drifting faster than the bait. When you free-line the crabs in front of the boat, the wind will help the crab drift into the path of the tarpon. Tackle should be in the 50-pound class, and the hooks should be 4 to 6/0. Drift in areas where you see tarpon rolling on the surface.
Pro tips: The Skyway and Egmont Key are two of the best areas to fish for tarpon with free-lined crabs.
Start your drift up-current of the boats that are fishing. Drift through the area while looking for rolling fish. When the tarpon roll in front of your drift, have a few free-lined crabs in front of the boat. Let the tarpon strike the crab, and wait until the rod bends and line starts to burn off the reel. Then set the hook and get ready for the first jump.
Make sure the rod is pointing at the tarpon when it jumps. If the rod is bent during the jump, the tarpon will usually throw the hook. Also have a long handle net to catch the crabs to use as bait.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.