With the weather starting to finally level out and cold fronts turning mild, the water temperature rises. With warmer water temperature brings big schools of bait. Not far behind the bait are the schools of Tarpon. Preparation is just as important as finding that secret spot when fishing for Tarpon. Since they are the strongest, biggest and smartest of all inshore species you have to be prepared.
Preparation starts before you ever leave the house. Let’s talk about what gear to use. A big spinning reel that will hold at least 250 yards of 50lb line, has a good drag system and is able to hold up to 30lbs of drag tension. I like the Diawa Black and Gold BG60 or BG90. Your rods should be in the 30 to 50lb range with plenty of backbone. 50lbs Power Pro braided line will bring most trophy fish to the boat. I use 80lb Fluorocarbon line for leader but monofilament will work. I tie a double Uni- knot with no swivel and a Spider Hitch knot just above the leader.
Once you have purchased and rigged the right tackle, now its time to hit the water.
Picking the days you target these fish is another very important tactic. A good place to start is to schedule your Tarpon trips on the weeks around your new and full moons. This is your strongest tides of the month. You can easily figure your good tide days by purchasing a tide book at most of your tackle stores for about $12.
Now that you have got the right gear and you have picked the perfect day, all you have to do is find the fish! This can be tough at times but not impossible. Most of the bridges throughout Tampa Bay are a seasonal home to Tarpon. Drifting a big Threadfin, Greenback, and Pinfish under the shadow line of the bridge is a deadly tactic and is one I often use. Big pods of fish are commonly seen just off the beaches. Site casting is a very affective technique, but a stealthy approach is a must.
The last areas to target the Silver King are the passes along the beaches. Tarpon use the passes as feeding stations. All types of baitfish are flushed in and out of the passes. One of the favorite Tarpon bait that is flushed with the tide is pass crabs. They are by far the favorite tarpon bait and are very plentiful in most of the main passes along the beaches.
Captian Jason Prieto is a USCG licensed captain and an active member of the Florida Guides Association and The National Assication of Charter Boat Operators.