The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

Late summer is one off the best times of the year to target juvenile tarpon in the Suncoast region. There are a couple tricks to finding and catching them. Perhaps most important is the time of day. Floating around a canal or river looking for rolling fish at noon will likely be a fruitless endeavor. Small tarpon are temperature sensitive. They seek out the deepest inshore water they can find. During the heat of the day when the sun is high they sit on the bottom of holes and channels, only surfacing to grab a gulp occasionally. Even sending baits to the bottom in these spots does not work very well. The are simply not feeding.

The best times to target them are early morning or the last few hours of daylight. When the light is low and the water cools a bit, these miniature silverkings rise up and start feeding. It can be quite remarkable how different the fish can be in the same channel noon vs. 7 PM.

The best way to catch them is by live chumming with scaled sardines. To get the most out of your spot, do not put any lines in the water when you start chumming. Even if you see a fish or two blast a chummer. Wait til you have an entire feeding frenzy going, then cast just one or two lines. As soon as lines go in, the feeding begins to slow. When the bite shuts down you can often restart it by removing all lines and feeding them some more to earn their trust again.

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