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Tarpon, tarpon everywhere

Posted May 17, 2012 by Frank Sargeant

Updated May 17, 2012 at 04:50 PM

Captain Ray Markham (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) reports tarpon everywhere from the beaches to well inside the major bays along the west central coast. Pass crabs and threadfins are the sure-thing, but Markham says the DOA Baitbuster, a soft plastic mullet, is also highly effective when tarpon are found inside over 8 to 10 feet of water.

Markham says this weekend’s new moon will bring a huge tidal drop both at dawn and around sunset, and anglers who set up on the outflows of smaller sloughs feeding into Tampa Bay can expect plenty of trout, reds and catch-and-release snook to be waiting as the water drops.

He said permit are gathering around the nearshore reefs and will also take small crabs—expect lots of company for this fishing and the early bird gets the worm, but for those who hook up, fish over 20 pounds are common.

Captain Mike Shellen of Okeechobee ( reports fishing pressure has dropped off but the bite is still on at the big lake, with lots of bass on the outside of the grass. Shellen said fish are schooling on top the first hour of daylight, and a fast-moving, noisy topwater can do no wrong. Flippin worms and critter baits in the grass or fishing wild shiners is the ticket for larger fish and for mid-day action.

Shellen said the shellcracker and bluegill bedding action is continuing at a peak with this weekend’s new moon—find one bedding fish and you’re likely to find a hundred. He also notes that anglers interested in a catfish dinner might want to visit now—he’s been catching channel cats to 10 pounds while running live shiners for bass. Shellen said a piece of cut shad or shiner fished on the bottom will quickly be found by the cats.

Late May is also prime time to visit Lake Tarpon in Pinellas County for schooling bass. Particularly when rain storms push water into the outlet canal on the south end, there’s a fast bite on schooling fish here, with a Tiny Torpedo or an F11 Rapala among the top baits.

It’s not too late to catch a 10-pound bass at Rodman despite the return of normal water levels. Captain Sean Rush ( had several that size this week on wild shiners while catching an average of 20 to 30 fish per day. He said the shad run is on in the St. Johns, offering topwater action in many areas.

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