Last month brought us severe storms, high winds and tidal floods throughout the bay; this caused the river and creek systems to overflow with runoff spilling directly into Tampa Bay.
With all the runoff, juvenile tarpon spill out toward the same areas stopping in ponds, canals and shallow flats to feed. This is where the fun begins.
The search for tarpon can be a long one at times and even frustrating, but it’s definitely a test of patience! In the end, it will be all worth it.
Start looking in ponds, creeks and canals that are connected to freshwater. These fish congregate here.
The best times to search for them are after heavy rains and the days leading up to the new moon. Low oxygen levels are found in the water due to the rain, this forces the young tarpon to gulp air from the surface making them visible and a great target for sight fishing.
Juvenile silver kings are very picky and will not easily take a larger offering that you would typically toss to other inshore gamefish. Instead, scale down halfway or use even smaller baits.
There are many techniques to catching them and even more lures to choose from. However, for the sake of this write up, I’ll only cover the basics, just try to keep it simple. Live bait, small shrimp and white bait or pilchards work great pitched to rollers. A bait under a cork is best for laid up fish. Small baitfish patterns like the Unfair Lures rip n slash and arrowhead series work magic on sub surface feeding fish.
Simply put, if you want to catch a juvenile tarpon this season, slow down and take your time while searching. Finding them is half the battle, patience plays a major role.
Quick tip: Google Earth can be your best resource in creating a search plan.
Good luck and tight lines!