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5/24/02 05:22 PM
SW Florida Tarpon & Inshore [Post#: 776 ] Reply to this post

Spring is over and with the daily 90 degree temps, summer is finally here. The past several weeks have offered many memorable outings, targeting a wide variety of inshore species.

The Tarpon run is in full force in Boca Grande Pass and the surrounding beaches and inside flats. While the numbers are not as great as in recent years, there still are plenty of fish to keep everyone occupied. Drifting Jigs during the day one to five cranks off the bottom have produce Tarpon up to 125lbs. Chartreuse/Chartreuse, Chartreuse/Chartreuse Fire Tiger and Red/Chartreuse Fire Tiger have been the top performers. Use minimum 30lb gear and apply maximum pressure in order to get your fish up to the boat as quickly as possible. Long fights will strain the fish as well as the angler, and the longer the fight, the higher the probability that the men in gray suits will intervene. I’ve witnessed several Poons thus far meet an untimely fate. One such was by a Hammerhead, which looked as big as my boat (20’).

While the daytime Pass Bite is progressing, I favor drifting live crabs and threadfins later in the day and into the evening. The crowds are thin, and the fish seemingly more aggressive. Another option is to get out as the sun is rising and prowl the deep grass flats within Pine Island Sound, the beaches of Cayo Costa & Gasparilla, and certain areas within the Harbor. Pods of Tarpon will be traveling these areas and if approached quietly, can be targeted using live crabs, threadfins and even artificials/flies. Be sure not to work a pod or school already being worked by another boat, and please give them plenty of room.

On the inshore front: The majority of the Snook have moved into the passes and the beaches. While I am still catching loads of Snook in the harbor, the sound and in the preserve, the majority are small males or very unwilling large females. These fish will soon be joining their brothers and sisters for the spring/summer spawn.
Live Pilchards and Sardines have been the ticket. Pilchards are found over most grass flats as long as there is current, and the Sardines can be marked in 6-15’ of water throughout the harbor.

The larger of the Snook is best target using large live bait & circle hooks with heavy gear or artificials this time of the year. Please don’t forget, the season is now closed. Keep the fights to a minimum and take extra time to insure the fish is healthy before you release her/him.

Redfish have been spotty in numbers, yet caught with consistency. While a few schools have been located, it’s mostly a "fish or small pod here" and a "fish or small pod there" type of day. The majority of the outside flats within the sound and preserve will attract fish on an incoming tide. Focus on and around the potholes and prop marks on the 1st quarter of the incoming, and progress toward the shoreline at high. Gold spoons and tube baits are my favorite artificials this time of the year, as well as flies following a sardine or pilchard pattern. A half/half with lots of silver flash and a bit of green has been my favorite pattern, and the same pattern will also attract Snook, Jacks and anything else that is in the mood to eat whitebait.

In addition to Snook and Reds, schools of small jacks can be found working the bait pods early in the morning, and pods of larger jacks are beginning to show up along the beaches and certain areas within the harbor. Cobia maybe found cruising the beaches so keep a 15 or 20lb-spinning rod ready at all times. The smaller specimens (Up to 25lbs) are finally starting to show in respectable numbers in the harbor. I will soon be targeting these fish within the next couple of weeks. Anchor, chum with block chum and work four rods at various depths with live threadfins or big pins and wait. Once a pod moves through, multiple hook ups are very common. If they don’t show up, then such can lead to a very boring day. Fish structure and fish the early morning or late afternoon tide.

Mackerel, Bluefish, and Ladyfish can also be targeted, and are usually mixed in with the jacks working the bait pods early in the morning. Don’t forget; every once in a while look behind you at your wake and look for flying saucers. Last week I caught a glimpse of a skipping Pompano. We motored back around and drifted the area with jigs until a hook up. A little chum, and many casts resulted in over 20 Pompano in just under an hour.

Until next time, stay safe, tight lines and many healthy releases!

Capt. Allan B. Beraquit
Coast II Coast Fishing Charters, Inc.

Capt. Allan Beraquit
Coast II Coast Fishing Charters, Inc.

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