The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

Late summer is typically not the best fishing season on the flats. Very high water temperatures make mid-day action slow at best. Even in spots where the inshore water is deeper, the fish often stay low to the bottom until later in the day or early morning.

No where is this truer than when targeting baby tarpon in the creeks and canals. In the good spots you will see them rolling each morning on the surface over the deeper holes and channels. Once the sun gets high in the sky they will seemingly disappear. The reality is that they are holding in the cooler water below and not moving around much. Over the years we have tried to figure out a way to target these fish on the bottom in the afternoons but have had little success. The bottom line is that they simply do not feed or roll much when it is hot. For our directed trips for juvenile tarpon this time of year we leave the dock at 4 pm, catch whitebait, then set up on the spots to fish the last few hours of daylight. The transformation that takes place when the sun gets lower in the sky can be quite remarkable. More often than not a spot that looks unexciting turns in to a tarpon melee based entirely on being at the right spot at the right time of the day. Having lots of live bait to chum with is also a key ingredient to fire up the late day action.