Captain's Corner: Tarpon fishing remains productive

Published July 24, 2015

In spite of the longest stretch of days with prevailing west winds that I can recall in July, tarpon fishing the gulf beaches has remained productive. There's an adage that says "when the winds out of the west, fish bite the best." I wouldn't necessarily agree in all fishing, but we often thrive while 'edge' fishing during these conditions. While rough seas in the gulf created by west wind may not be fisherman friendly, the fish don't mind a bit. On my last trip, the wind was howling — we could barely stand in the boat, the driving rain was more horizontal than vertical and we jumped five and released three tarpon before the conditions completely deteriorated and chased us off the beach at Anna Maria. Until we return to a normal weather pattern a wiser decision may be to fish the somewhat protected waters of the bays. Tampa Bay has been loaded with tarpon and much of it has to do with the massive amounts of fry bait that has pushed up inside. Tarpon in the bay tend to roam. Big herds can be seen in a spot and be gone the next day. Recently in Port Manatee I saw 500 tarpon rolling through huge schools of bait. I went back two days later and saw five. And though they move around, they may not move far. I've found fish in Bayboro Harbor one day and what I felt were the same bunch at the Snell Isle Reef the next. This time of year, once you've located those tightly packed schools of glass minnows and fry baits you may also have found where the tarpon have roamed.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.