Watch the birds: Warmer water continues to bring gigantic schools of larger baitfish into Tampa Bay and the passes along our coast. Spanish mackerel and little tunny are following the smaller fish and present great opportunities for fly rod anglers. An incoming tide is usually best. Noisy diving terns and gulls will reveal where the fish are.
Technique: Use a bow-mounted electric motor to position your boat ahead of the fish and let them come to you. If you have an outboard, idle into position well ahead of the action and shut off the motor. When within casting range, cast a 9-weight fly rod with a sinking tip line ahead of the fish. Larger fish will usually be deeper, so give weighted flies a little time before starting a fast retrieve. Instead of one-hand stripping, place the fly rod under an arm and use both hands to put the line in the basket in front of you. When you feel a strike, set the hook by stripping hard. Spanish mackerel and little tunny have sharp teeth, so a small 30-pound wire leader can be placed between the fly and the leader tippet. If tying your flies, use a long shank hook, such as a Mustad 34011, and tie the fly at the hook's bend. The hook's long metal shank helps prevent biteoffs.
Pat Damico charters out of St. Pete Beach. Call (727) 504-8649 or visit www.captpat.com.