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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Inshore bite heats up as tarpon numbers rise By Capt. Ray Markham, May 14, 2012

by on May.14, 2012, under Tampa Bay, East and South Shore

Despite slower tides toward the week’s end, this past week anglers fishing aboard my Action Craft flats skiff, the Flat Back II experienced some good action with snook, trout, and redfish. Black sea bass and flounder were a couple of other critters on the catch list, but the “big 3” were tops this week.
Largest trout of the week, taping out at just over 23-inches came on a MirrOlure Top Dog while fishing with Michael ‘Mookie’ Wilson with the Lakeland Ledger newspaper and online website, www.polkoutdoors.com. I managed a Grand slam in first 30-minutes of our trip using CAL Jigs with Shad tails and a MirrOlure Top Dog in the ‘18’color, (greenback). We saw a solid top water bite for a couple of hours in the morning while fishing the major solunar period under an overcast sky that kept the light subdued. Tides never really moved much, turning the bite into a slower process, but we worked at it, producing a fine catch for the day.
Tarpon are showing up in a little better numbers and by the weekend, they should be in a feeding mood for the new moon next Sunday. Early and late day outgoing tides should be the most productive. While many anglers will choose to fish the sunrise tide, a good portion will opt for the big outgoing drop late in the day towards sundown. Wind conditions are usually much better early in the day before the sun gets up very high. Sight casting opportunities for fly anglers will likely be optimal after the sun comes up on the beaches. Several patterns are productive for fly anglers with baitfish patterns tops during incoming tides. Lefty’s Deceiver in black or purple or black and purple work well. Crab patterns could produce on the outgoing tides nearest the new moon.
Artificial lure anglers can score tarpon on the Trolling model DOA Baitbuster, the 4-inch Shrimp, and on the Swimming Mullet from DOA. MirrOlure Catch 2000 with beefed up hooks are one of my top producing hard baits for poons when fishing shallow water just off the beaches in near the mouth of the Manatee River or Terra Ceia Bay. Skyway tarpon tend to prefer the DOA Baitbuster.
Snook are getting easier to catch due to the heavy feeding pattern these fish encounter as the prepare to go into their spawn. The fish will concentrate, staging up in passes and on the beaches while they are there for the spawn. Catch and release fishing for these fish only is permitted during the season closure. It’s best to crimp down barbs on hook to make for an easier release that will also cause minimal harm to the fish so it can be released. Beach fish can be caught on Eppinger Rex gold spoons in the 1/2-ounce model. Baitfish are the staple in their diets while on the beaches. DOA Shrimp drifted in the current around the passes work well around the new moons. If currents are running hard, a small split shot attached a foot or so up the line will get the DOA Shrimp down to the bottom where the majority of the fish will hang.

Capt. Ray Markham runs the Flat Back II out of Terra Ceia and can be reached for charter at (941) 228-3474 or via email at flatback@tampabay.rr.com.

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