St. Petersburg Times

PART 1 •• PART 2

Location, location, location
Productive areas for “soaking” include Port Manatee, Gadsen Point, Mermaid Point, Rocky Point, all area bridges, Port Tampa, Sarasota Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, Manatee River, Clearwater Bay, Palma Ceia Bay and Pass-a-Grille.

Moon and tides
Timing is everything. Fish the strongest tides, three days after and three days before the full moon. For best results, fish at night. Pay close attention to the solunar tables.

GRAPHICS by Amanda Raymond, TEXT by Terry Tomalin

Voracious eaters Tarpon are scavengers and will eat just about anything, including mullet, ladyfish, pinfish, grunts, crabs, threadfin herring, scaled sardines and even catfish. But for bottom fishing, nothing beats a dead shad, the bloodier the better.
Big fish, small bait
Tarpon have large mouths and can grow to well over 200 pounds, but they feed on surprisingly small organisms. The preferred bait for beach tarpon fishing is the threadfin herring (known locally as the greenback). Other baits include crabs, pinfish, pumpkinseeds (Atlantic bumper) and sardines.

Contributors: Ed Walker is a dedicated “slinger” and specializes in beach fishing for tarpon. Walker and his clients have won more than $400,000 in tarpon tournament prize money and hold the current Boca Grande tarpon tournament record of 208pounds. For information, go to Jay Mastry, a lifelong “soaker,’’ has fished the Suncoast Tarpon Roundup since he was old enough to walk. Mastry, who is also one of the winningest king-fish tournament anglers in the Tampa Bay area, fishes nearly every day during tarpon season.