The tournaments are over and sight casting to large schools of migrating tarpon along our gulf beaches will likely have to wait until next season. For those still interested, there’s plenty of good tarpon fishing to be done. The return of a normal weather pattern of light easterly winds have allowed nearshore waters along the gulf to clear. Tarpon have returned to the “edge” as they travel along the beaches on the dropoff just outside the swash. They might be harder to detect now than in the big bunches that were obvious earlier. Now, with considerably less fishing pressure though they might not show as well, they sometimes are a bit more prone to chew. August is among our favorite time to mangrove snapper fish, and you don’t have to travel far to do it. Now is when they tend to stack up in Tampa Bay, and a bunch of them are full grown. “Mangos” gather on the many artificial reefs scattered throughout the bay. Coordinates are published on fish/dive charts you can find where you buy your tackle. Each of our major bridges in the bay provides structure that mangos use to ambush baits. I prefer the deeper waters along the edge of the ships channel. There are many productive areas from very near the Skyway bridge to a half-dozen miles inside. Grouper, cobia, mackerel and flounder can be among your bonus bycatch on many of these spots. Cut bait works and so does shrimp, but we’ve done best on whitebait (or scaled sardines) and will go out of our way to get them. Lately, we’ve been anchored and chummed them to us using quarter-inch mesh cast net to prevent “gilling” the smaller ones.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.