What's hot: Traditionally in late July, large schools of tarpon infiltrate the bays and backwaters. This year they followed tradition. A big bunch settled into the channel leading to Port Manatee, preying on schools of glass minnows. And a huge herd of silverkings roamed up Tampa Bay as far as the Howard Frankland Bridge.
Tarpon have tails, and they know how to use them. Where you find them one day, you might not the next. Some will ease over toward the Rocky Point area. Others might gang up around the Bayside Bridge, and at least some will wander beyond the Courtney Campbell Parkway.
Getting them to eat when they're in this mood sometimes can be a challenge. I've had my best luck focusing on a tide change and solunar period.
Still smokin': Late-season tarpon continue to cruise the nearshore waters of the gulf beaches and will continue to do so through August. Thursday morning we released a pair we estimated at more than 100 pounds each and jumped a couple of others. We were in 13-15 feet off Longboat Key.
Tip: Though it's well-documented that tarpon become active and likely to chew as the moon rises during the full moon phase, we had our success Thursday as the moon fell. Moon phases and positions are given each day on the St. Petersburg Times weather page.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.