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Fishing for tarpon has been sporadic

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 31, 2002

Memorial Day was one 10-year-old Tim Deacon won't likely forget. The young angler, who weighs 100 pounds with his sneakers on, had a one-hour battle with a silver king.

He was fishing with dad Kenny near Anna Maria when the 134-pound tarpon was brought to gaff, setting a personal best in his young career.

Tarpon fishing elsewhere this week has been sporadic. Two tide days haven't helped. Though it is warming, water temperature as warm as 87 degrees two weeks ago plummeted to 75.

The full moon, while credited in some areas, is blamed in others. It's a popular belief that many fish, including tarpon, feed at night during the full moon, and hardly chew during the daylight hours.

The "Hole" near Egmont Key is an exception. Many tarpon congregate in this deep-water pass the days immediately surrounding the full moon. Attracted by the ripping tide and the bait it brings with it, tarpon are fished in an abbreviated version of the style used in Boca Grande Pass.

We caught and released a 120-pounder in the bay this week but most of our action has been along the gulf beaches. Aided by easterly wind, schools can be found migrating along the calm near shore waters. Though fresh shad is my preference for monster tarpon, they are not always the most effective. A live crab, large whitebait or greenback presented ahead of a milling pod stays up and out of the angel hair that continues to be a nuisance for those bottom fishing off Longboat Key. Another option can be a pinfish or grunt suspended beneath a cork.

Don't give up on those spots you've caught fish before just because you have been there a couple of times and they haven't produced. Tarpon, like kingfish, are creatures of habit and return to the same spots year after year. Keeping a log of dates, moon phases, tidal flow, and water temperature might help you avoid those dreaded words that make anglers cringe: "You should have been here yesterday!"

-- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

Outdoors calendar


(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)

SATURDAY: Tarpon tournament No. 4, Miller's Marina, Tarpon Club, (941) 964-8080.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Trout tournament, Dunedin Fishing Center, register Saturday, 738-5628.

MONDAY: West Coast Fly Fishing Club meeting, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, New Port Richey, 856-8116.

MONDAY: Brandon Bass Bandits meeting, Oakfield Lanes, Brandon, (813) 741-1378.

TUESDAY: Port Hudson Fishing Club meeting, Port Hudson Marina, 869-8190.

TUESDAY: Hurricane Pass Anglers Club meeting, Homeport Marina, 374-8700.

UPCOMING: Grouper tournament, June 8, Billy's Stonecrab, Tierra Verde, register June 7, 542-3900.


TUESDAY: Offshore fishing, Boater's World, De Soto Mall, Bradenton, (941) 747-8339.


TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, Bayboro Campus, 821-4840.

SATURDAY: Free kayak demo, Sweetwater Kayaks, Tierra Verde, 906-0708.

TUESDAY: Hudson Beach Yacht Club monthly meeting, Hudson Senior Center, Hudson, 868-7037 or 372-7103.


DAILY: Tram tour, Boyd Hill Nature Park, 893-7326.

TUESDAY: Speaker's night, Chinsegut Nature Park, Brooksville, (352) 754-6722.

-- Send information to Outdoors, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. All items must be typed and arrive 10 days before the event. Include event name, time, address and phone number.

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