The Tampa Bay Times

For those who have not yet had their fill of tarpon fishing this season, there is still opportunity.  Late season tarpon will roam well inside Tampa Bay often through September.  Not just the “juvies” but full grown hundred plus pounders can still be tangled with in several of their tried and true “honey holes”.  Last weekend a couple were caught and let go at the “Bootleg” not far from the Gandy Bridge .  Rocky Point, Lizard Flats, Westinghouse, Port Manatee and even Bayboro Harbor have traditionally attracted late season tarpon.  When soaking bottom baits in the bay, my first choice will always be a fresh dead shad and a mullet chunk would rank second.  If looking for something a little less punishing to battle and a whole lot better to eat, mangrove snapper and grouper continue to top the list of “things to do” along the edges of the Ships Channel inside the bay.  This time of year many of our mangos have been the extra large variety, seldom seen side the bay.  With the bay water as dark and tannicky as it has been, it’s allowed us to beef up our leader to 30 lb. test to avoid cut offs from the larger ones.  While much of the bait in the extremely skinny water off the flats have been smaller than preferred, patiently waiting and working the bit deeper edges has paid off.  Sometimes anchoring and chumming the baits to you can make the difference in throwing the net ten times or preferably once or twice.  You’ll likely get some pinfish along with your minnows but take a box of frozen sardines to insure you have a larger offering for the grouper.