Lately we’ve seen some hot weather and afternoon thunderstorms. Water temperatures are climbing well into the 80s. These are all signs that summer is here and also signify that tarpon in full force are moving up the coast along the beaches, passes and bridges.
It’s the best time of the year to catch the Silver King.
If tarpon is on your bucket list and you are ready out to check it off, be prepared to put your time in. One thing is certain when you’re tarpon fishing – you have to be patient if you want to conquer them.
A good start is being prepared. Have the right gear for the job and plan ahead of time.
Here are a few good tips to help you out when targeting tarpon:
• Plan your trips accordingly. Look at the tides and try to get out around the new or full moons. These are some of the strongest tides of the month. Tarpon like them because they draw crabs to the passes.
• Have the correct gear and knots. Cheap reels and sticky drags will make your day a bad one. Heavy spinning gear spooled up with Fins 65-pound braided line tied to 60-pound Ohero Fluorocarbon leader and a 5/0 Daiichi circle hook make a simple rig that’s great for tarpon. Tie all this together with a double Uni Knot and you’ll have the right gear for the job.
While tarpon is the highlighted species this time of year, there are plenty of other inshore fish to go after. Trout, redfish and snook have all been biting well. Getting an early start is the key. Since the flats tend to warm up fast from the heat of the sun, I’ve done well when fishing on days when the high tide is at early morning.
Snook have started their voyage to the beaches, bridges, passes to get ready for another important spawn. Don’t forget that all snook are catch-and-release.
Trout fishing continues to be strong early in the morning. The Cajun Thunder Back Bay floats have been deadly with a frisky greenback.
If you’re after redfish there are still plenty of schools milling the flats. It’s a little bit of a challenge to sight fish them as water clarity is not too good right now. Using chum baits to locate the schools will help draw the fish to you and always works better than chasing them around. If you find a school of fish that just won’t eat the live bait don’t hesitate to try cut pinfish. This is a very simple technique but can be the difference between catching and fishing.
Remember to get an early start and plan your trips around good tidal flow. The rest will fall into place. Tight lines!
Jason Prieto is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 727-9890 or [email protected]