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1st. mate Brian Timmons prepares a giant
tarpon for release.
A combination of a pesky touch of red tide and
last weeks dark moon sent a good push of tarpon inside Tampa Bay. While
the beaches will hold a few fish moving and feeding in spurts, most
consistent action now is now being found in several of the classic
“post season” spots well inside the backcountry.
never has been for everyone. When the bite is on, it can be some
of the most fast and furious big game fishing in the world. When
tarpon are being tarpon, the fishing becomes something similar to
a big game safari hunt. In the spring and prior to the spawn,
often the fish are caught up in foreplay and can frustrate anglers
in refusing pizzas in exchange for grapes. Post spawn the fish are
the move to indulge in their purpose of taken up residence---to
They move with the
bait on near daily basis. Here one day only to found several miles
away the next. Find the bait in known tarpon spas—likely you
found the fish. Spring fish that would pass up offerings ranging
from everything to the kitchen sink are often found blasting and
free jumping in an array of neon silver through the potpourri of
bait. Small glass minnows, sardines, herring and menhaden are the
main ingredients of the food source. The trick now is to get a
fish to bite your offering as they gulp mouthfuls of the tasty
Larger live bait
offered just outside the bait pods often works in getting a bite
when the bait is not over abundant. When the bait is very thick,
live baits only last seconds as they a sucked up by every other
species whom have too joined the party.
Dave Garrow (aft) with another release
aboard the Bounty Hunter.
(Fore to aft) Liz Overstreet, Brian, and Michael
Overstreet are all smiles after landing this hot fish on ultra
Out comes the
hardware. Lures (jigs and plugs) constantly and somewhat
accurately casted at and near rolling fish cover more ground as
well as narrow the intended target, 100 lbs or more of pure fury.
To some the technique of constantly casting seems like to work.
For others who want to test their mettle against the king using
bass tackle and plastic, the opportunity is the most rewarding
experience in big game fishing.
When summer tarpon
are found inhabiting the many areas of hard/live bottom inside the
Bay, plugging takes a back seat to fresh dead bait fishing. Pros
and seasoned tournament anglers know---its not the prettiest of
techniques—but often the best The routine involves some
preparation. The day before fishing is spent cast netting and
acquiring the tarpon filet mignon, menhaden. Once the full cooler
full of iced layered baits, 90% of the work is done. The following
day is spent anchored on a piece of prime real estate and the
baits are fan casted around the boat in a pre-scouted piece of
prime real estate. Its complete chaos if a feeding pod moves in
and all six rods double over at near the same moment. If just a
fish or two around, the fishing may not be hot, but precisely
effective. As in all tarpon fishing, if they are not feeding, it
can be a long wait for a single bite.
Several major bridges crisscross Tampa
Bay. Naturally the structures holds bait and create good currents
complete with rips and eddies. They are some of the best known and
productive tarpon hangouts on the coast. By day- the fishing is
best around the major moon phases as the fish use the currents,
pilings and shadow lines as ambush points for helpless baitfish
being sucked by the lunar- gravitational pull. At night, the
lights of the big bridges act like tarpon magnets just as porch
lights do to insects in summer. The fish use the currents and the
bridge shadows to stalk the pilings in search of an easy meal.
Fish can be seen cruising just inches under the surface and often
you can witness your bait being blasted just inches from your
feet. Much has changed with the bridges over the years. New ones
have been added, lighting schemes changed and angling/exposure
pressure in this modern era have changed the fishing from
yesteryear. Like all tarpon fishing, when it’s on—the big
bridges of Tampa Bay are second to none for “post season”
Phyllis Marlar took this, her first tarpon,
on a a recent trip with husband Randy.
This past week, fish
have consistently held in the same area and have been easy targets on
plugs. We are still jumping and catching fish exceeding 140 lbs.,
particularly on plugs. Patches of red tide has pushed the fish off the
lower Pinellas beaches. Off Sarasota and inside Tampa Bay the
microorganism has not played any bearing on the fish other than to push
them to these areas.
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Past Florida Fishing Report