by CAPT. DOUG HEMMER
WHAT'S HOT: Mackerel and kingfish can be found inside Tampa Bay. The Skyway area has been the hot spot. Look for the birds flocking over the surface. Then look for the mackerel striking at the baits. Use whitebait to catch the mackerel and use a legal size mackerel to catch the kings. There are plenty of mackerel to catch and few kings. The kings, on the other hand, will be in the 25- to 40-lb class.
TARPON: The Skyway Bridge is holding the first tarpon schools of the season. Most of the fish are hitting threadfins free-lined in the shadow line of the bridge. Anglers will anchor up-current of the bridge with a throw ball attached to the anchor. When a tarpon strikes the bait, set the hook hard before it jumps. Then untie the anchor line and throw the ball clear of the boat. Try to get the boat over the tarpon in case you have to maneuver the boat around the pilings. When the tarpon has cleared the bridge, be prepared for a long battle.
Some of the tarpon will be over 150 lbs and might take one to two hours to land. Use the boat to drive toward the tarpon so the angler can easily collect line. Then put the boat in neutral and let the tarpon rip off some more line. Keep repeating this until the tarpon is boat side. It's better to pop the leader with your gloved hands. Holding the tarpon at boat side or lifting them out of the water to unhook the fish will increase the chances that the tired fish could become easy pray for the sharks.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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