Late summer fishing often means hot, stagnant conditions that can make you uncomfortable. But when the wind goes still, this can be a prime time to hunt backwater tarpon. Tarpon will surface more actively when the water is smooth. Target deep areas around bridges, river mouths and creek mouths, deep holes around the ports and bird activity. Cast plugs to surfacing fish or soak bait on the bottom where you see the fish rolling the most. Plug fishing can be excellent when the fish are very active. Use a long rod and a reel with 30- or 40-pound braid and 18 inches of 60- or 80-pound leader. Bottom fishing with cut mullet or mackerel will work when the sun gets high and the fish begin to refuse the plugs. Composite rods will give way a bit when the fish strikes, resulting in fewer thrown hooks. Large baitrunner-type spinning reels work great. An 80-pound mono leader and a big circle hook will ensure the fish doesn't throw the hook on first jump.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.