With very warm water along the coast, midday fishing has been slow for some inshore species. By avoiding the hottest part of the day, anglers can capitalize on the best bite. Nowhere is that more apparent than when fishing for juvenile tarpon. Small tarpon will roll at the surface and feed actively early in the morning and even more just before dark. When the sun is high and surface water is at its warmest, these fish sit on the bottom of the deepest holes they can find. They seldom roll, and in most cases you wouldn’t even know they were there. As the sun begins to lower, they start to rise and look for food. That’s when you can get them fired up. We typically anchor upcurrent from our selected spot and chum with live scaled sardines. When live chumming, bait size is not crucial. Very small baitfish work just as well for chum as larger ones. Because small bait is more common this time of year, use a small mesh net to catch them. Most of the time a quarter-inch mesh size will catch baitfish without “gilling” them in the webbing. Occasionally we have to go as small as a 3/16-inch mesh net to catch them and keep them alive. There are usually enough bigger baits mixed in to put on your hook for casting. Since there are only 2-3 hours of prime feeding time before dark, it’s important to check a spot quickly and move if the fish don’t show up. When the time of day is right, tarpon usually start crashing chummers right away.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at email@example.com .