By JAY MASTRY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 8, 2001
It would be difficult to convince Jeff Mastry the tarpon run has tapered since August is here. Saturday, fishing with brother G. Mike near MacDill Air Force Base, they jumped a dozen silver kings and released five muscular beasts up to 110 pounds.
Soaking shad on the bottom the last two hours of the outgoing tide and first two of the incoming was most productive. This time of year, huge schools of glass minnows infiltrate our area and often roam well inside the bays. Because they are among tarpon's favorite food, it was no surprise to find schools of tarpon crashing pods of glassies this week in Tampa and Terra Ceia bays and the Manatee River. You often can locate glass minnows by paying attention to sea birds. Gulls, terns and pelicans find them more easily than we can.
Often, tarpon seem only interested in the glass minnows they can ambush mouthfuls at a time. Though it can be frustrating knowing tarpon are within feet of your bait yet not biting, do not despair. They are there to eat. They just need to be coaxed. Because of their size, glass minnows cannot effectively be used for bait. Mixing your offerings can increase your chances. If a whole shad is not working, cut his head off just behind the gills and allow the natural oil and scent to arouse interest. Another option may be to trim a couple of inches off the tail section and hook them in the head. Whichever you choose, remember to leave as much hook exposed as possible to increase hook-up percentages.
- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.