The Tampa Bay Times

With water temperatures rising and kingfish season winding down, it’s time to turn our attention to the mighty silverking.  Early arrivals of tarpon have been in and around our area for weeks.  There’s already been some caught up the bay as far as the Courtney Campbell, others have been wrestled with near the Bulkhead towards the northern end of Anna Maria and several places in between.  Each of the major bridges in Tampa Bay have at times already attracted roaming pods of tarpon to them – most notably the Skyway.  Several fish were jumped by anglers trolling baits intended for kingfish during last weekends “King of the Beach” event well inside the bay.  There may be a good bunch of fish here now but the masses are yet to come.  Soon, big schools of migrating tarpon will be observed cruising the gulf beaches, many just outside the swim buoys that dot our coastline.  Sight-casters will test their skills at positioning their boats and properly presenting baits in front of the oncoming herds.  While there is no substitute to observing fish roll on the surface to assure you may be in a productive spot, it’s not necessary.  Tarpon will come up and take a gulp of air but they don’t have to do it often.  “Blind” fishing can be equally as productive.  Tarpon are creatures of habit and return to the same spots year after year.  Whether along the gulf beaches or any number of spots in the bay or backwaters, anchoring and offering a spread of some live baits’ and others dead can often coax a bite.  Over the years many of our most productive trips have been when we’ve seen the fewest amount of rolling fish if any at all.

Captain Jay Mastry 

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