The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

Tarpon fishing is what’s hot on the inshore fishing scene right now. Water temperatures are up and more and more migrating tarpon are arriving every day. Last week one offshore boat spotted a school of over a thousand fish 60 miles off Sarasota moving rapidly this way. Recent full moon tides poured untold numbers of pass crabs out the passes and inlets providing a primary food source for the new arrivals. As the tides begin to slow this week, there should be an uptick in the number of tarpon swimming along the beaches. The best approach to catching them depends on where you are. In some areas the fish will be in tight schools moving along the shore line, in this Pinellas area most will be traveling south. Lining up in front of the school quietly and casting into the path of travel get a lot of hook-ups. If the fish are staying high in the water a float is used to make sure the bait does not fall below the fish before the approach it. If not a freelined bait is used to target fish near the bottom.

In some spots such as Clearwater and Indian Rocks Beach, it is common to have scattered fish randomly popping up here in murky water with no obvious targets to cast at. When you find this its best to anchor the boat, set baits out, and wait for the fish to come to you. Floats are usually used in this scenario, so your offering doesn’t hide in the bottom.

Early morning is always best for beach tarpon fishing but a close second is the late afternoon. The bite from 5pm til dark can be spectacular.