Don't put away that tarpon gear. Silver king are still there for the taking, but you have to get out early and have the right offerings.
Granted, these backwater fish are somewhat smaller than the migratory fish that inhabit our waters in the late spring and early summer, but they still provide plenty of line-screaming jumps. Most are in the 25- to 60-pound range with a few 80- to 100-pounders.
Look for these guys rolling just as the dark morning sky turns to blue. I find most of them in muddy deep-water canals, bayous and bays. Put the rising sun to your back so you'll be able to see the reflection off the kings' silvery bodies when they come up for air. Pay close attention to the direction of travel when they roll. The best presentation is to place the bait in front of the fish so when it comes up to roll again, it will meet the bait head-on.
Downsizing in tackle is the best bet. Thirty-pound line and a 60-pound leader will do the trick most of the time, but for those just-in-case situations, I tie on a chunk of 80-pound stuff to the 60. This provides something for the bigger guys to chew on.
Downsizing the bait is a good idea, too. Most of these tarpon are feeding on glass minnows, juvenile threadfins and small sardines. Presenting them with the huge threads we typically use won't draw the strikes that smaller baits will.
_ Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 526-2590.