The Tampa Bay Times
This has been a banner year for smaller tarpon in the Tampa Bay area. Dock lights have been holding a good number of tarpon up to 30 pounds with an occasional larger one cruising near the lights to take advantage of the concentration of baitfish. Snook, reds, and trout are the usual customers frequenting lights, but tarpon will be there too. Lights near structures like docks, bridges, and marinas are a good place to start. Be very cautious in your approach. Watch the lighted area from a distance using an electric motor at a very slow speed. Good tidal flow is needed to get these fish to accept your offering. This is strictly a sight fishing situation where long accurate casts are needed. If you can’t do a saltwater quick cast, get a good casting instructor to help perfect your technique. This will help in all saltwater fly sight casting. If you’re not a night person and want other baby tarpon choices, explore the many rivers that go into the bay and Gulf. Early morning will bring these silver rockets rolling on the surface helping you find their location. If they do not show, cast small baitfish patterns around the above-mentioned structure. If there is no surface activity, use a full sinking line with larger dark weighted flies, as these elusive fish will spend most of their time close to the bottom. Clouser minnows are a good choice. When you find one, more will be nearby.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in Lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.com and (727) 504-8649.