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Captain's corner

By DOUG HEMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 19, 2001


Tarpon are traveling up the bay, along the beach, through the passes and around the Intracoastal Waterway.

In the bay, tarpon travel the drop-off that runs along the shoreline from Anna Maria north to the Gandy Bridge. Most of the pods will stay in 10 to 15 feet of water. Look for rolling tarpon. If the pod is moving fast, don't anchor the boat. Wait for the school to slow or look for a milling pod. Tarpon on the beach will be spooky. Traveling through miles of shallow water crowded with boats, personal watercraft and sharks can put tarpon in a defensive mood. Anchoring on hard bottom close to shore and chumming is best. In the passes you will have to deal with strong currents. Free-line the baits when the tide is moving fast. When the tide lets up, use bottom rigs. If you're using a heavy weight in a strong tide, fish behind the pilings. We don't target the passes because the fish are not always there, but we do fish the passes for snook and keep an eye out for rolling tarpon.

The best rule for tarpon fishing: Don't start fishing until you see fish.

- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.

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