By JAY MASTRY
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 11, 2001
May means one thing to many along the Suncoast -- it's tarpon time. For the next three months, these summer visitors will arrive in our area. Some will take up temporary residence in our bays, rivers and backwaters. Others will pass through in large schools along our gulf beaches to gang up in Boca Grande.
Don't be fooled by how graceful they appear when they roll on the surface. Like barroom brawlers, if you're looking for a fight, these bullies will oblige.
Two of the most productive methods are sight-casting with live bait when the tarpon are on the surface, and bottom fishing with a variety of baits when they are not.
Creatures of habit, tarpon often return to the same hot spots year after year. At certain times during the season on certain tides and moon phases, I'll fish particular areas at least a while, whether I see them or not.
My live-bait preferences include greenbacks, pinfish and crabs. My three favorite bottom baits are shad, shad and shad.
-- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.
TODAY-SATURDAY: TV John Trolling Tournament, Leverock's, Madeira Beach Causeway, Old Salt Fishing Club; (727) 328-7699.
TUESDAY: Spring Hill Fishing Club meeting, 7:30, Weeki Wachee Senior Citizens Club, 3357 Susan Drive, Spring Hill; (352) 683-8481.
WEDNESDAY: Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club meeting, 6:30, Compton Park Recreation Center, Tampa Palms; (727) 866-8682.
UPCOMING: Spanish Mackerel "Big Mack Attack" Tournament, Billy's Stone Crab, 1120 Pinellas Bayway, Tierra Verde, captain's registration party 6, May 18, fish May 19; (727) 542-3900.
UPCOMING: Tampa Tarpon Tournament, Tampa Bayside Marina, 5200 W Tyson Ave., Tampa, captain's party and meeting 6:30, May 18, check-in and registration 6:30 a.m. May 19; (813) 831-5757.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, 10 a.m., World Class Outfitters, 13911 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 968-3736
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, women at 11:30 a.m., coed at 12:30, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater; (727) 443-5000.
SATURDAY: Cast-netting with Rob Gorda, 10 a.m., Bill Jackson's, 9501 U.S. 19 N, Pinellas Park; (727) 576-4169.
TUESDAY: Bottom fishing with Vern Bratvold, 7, Boater's World, De Soto Square Mall, Bradenton; (941) 747-8339.
TUESDAY: Tarpon fishing with Brent Gaskill, 7, Gulf to Bay Tackle, 6920 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach; (727) 367-4756.
TUESDAY: Fly-tying, 6:30, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater; (727) 443-5000.
WEDNESDAY: Flats fishing with Woody Gore, 7, Minnows and Monsters Tackle, 3811 S Manhattan Ave., Tampa; (813) 835-1512.
WEDNESDAY: Tarpon fishing with Jim Lemke, 7, Rodbenders, 5200 W Tyson Ave., Suite 103, Tampa; (813) 902-8849.
THURSDAY: Grouper fishing with Randy Rochelle, 7, Holy Mackerel Tackle, 8629 49th St. N, Pinellas Park; (727) 547-9889.
THURSDAY: Inshore fishing with Mike Anderson, 7, West Marine, 2000 34th St. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 327-0072.
FRIDAY: Fly-tying, 6:30, Bill Jackson's, U.S. 19 N; (727) 576-4169.
TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, 5:30, Bayboro Cafe at USF, St. Petersburg; (727) 821-4840.
SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, 9 a.m., Clearwater Community Sailing Center, 1001 Gulf Blvd., Sand Key; (727) 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Commodore Cup, Pass-a-Grille Yacht Club, 2301 Pass-a-Grille Way, St. Pete Beach; (727) 360-1646.
SATURDAY: Royal Gaboon race, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-3873.
SATURDAY: Bikini Cup Gulf Race, Windjammers of Clearwater, 2437 10th Ave. SW, Largo; (727) 781-3923.
SATURDAY: Wakeboard Tournament, 8 a.m., Tower Lake, Oldsmar, open to all level of riders, must preregister, Tackle Shack, 7801 66th St., Pinellas Park; (727) 546-5080.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Cotee River Seafood Festival and SunTrust Boat Show, 10 a.m., New Port Richey, event includes concerts, food and a nautical/natural arts and crafts show; (727) 842-8066.
TUESDAY: Continuous safe-boating course, 7:30, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 72, 1300 Beach Drive SE, St. Petersburg; (727) 898-8774.
WEDNESDAY: Boating skills and seamanship course, 7:30, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 79, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Building, 5108 Gandy Blvd., Tampa; (813) 835-4118.
THURSDAY: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary safe-boating course, 7:30, 299 Boca Ciega Drive, Madeira Beach; (727) 587-7873.
THURSDAY: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary safe-boating course, 7:30, Flotilla 78, St. Pete Beach Recreation Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach; (727) 867-3088.
THURSDAY: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary safe-boating class, 7:30, St. Pete Beach Recreation Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive; (727) 867-3088.
THURSDAY: Evening race, Davis Island Yacht Club, 1315 Severen Ave., Tampa; (813) 251-1158.
THURSDAY: Evening race, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club, 400 Treasure Island Causeway, Treasure Island; (727) 595-8206.
THURSDAY-MAY 19: Clearwater/Naples to Key West Regatta, Clearwater Yacht Club, 830 S Bayway Blvd., Clearwater; (727) 447-6000.
MAY 18: Twilight race, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-3873. MAY 18-20: St. Petersburg Boat Show, Bayfront Center Yacht Basin, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. Hours: noon-7 p.m. May 18, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. May 19, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 20; (727) 897-9196 (as of Monday).
TODAY: Backpacking for beginners, 6:30, Baywinds North, 722 E Fletcher Ave. (Exit 35, I-275), North Tampa; 1-800-300-6994 toll free or (813) 977-0996.
DAILY: Boyd Hill Nature Park tram tour, 1; (727) 893-7326.
SATURDAY: Guided hike at Brooker Creek Preserve, 9 a.m., reservations required; (727) 943-4003.
SATURDAY: Canoe trip, 7:30, Baywinds North, Withlacoochee State Forest, canoes and refreshments provided; 1-800-300-6994 toll free or (813) 977-0996.
SATURDAY: Oyster Bar Community Restoration, Whiskey Stump Key, Hillsborough Bay, more than 100 volunteers needed, meet at Williams Boat Ramp, register with Tampa BayWatch; (727) 896-5320.
- 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.