The Tampa Bay Times

Fly fishing for early season tarpon on the beach has begun. Get out at daybreak with an easterly wind and calm water to take advantage of some great tarpon action. An advantage to getting at these fish now is they haven’t been beaten up yet by hoards of fishermen and are in the pre-spawn mode making them more likely to grab a well-presented fly. Position your boat close to shore with the sun at your back. Good polarized glasses will allow you to see their flash as they lazily roll on the surface occasionally showing inside of swim markers. Eleven weight fly rods with a floating or sink tip line are required. Having your fly at the fish’s depth is important for success. A 40-60 wt fluorocarbon shock tippet tied to a size 1 to 1/0 Keys type or toad pattern in darker colors has been most successful. Minimize boat movement using only a push pole in shallow water. The ideal cast is having the fish come straight to you, then place the offering in her path. Figure out a pattern where most fish are moving and have them come to you. If you haven’t been using heavier rods, practice before getting on the water. Use your body to make casting easier and then use your body to fight the fish, not your arms. If anchored, a floating marker buoy with a quick disconnect will allow you to chase hooked fish and then return to your spot. 

Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at and (727) 504-8649.

Capt. Pat Damico
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