The Mullet are on the move! The Inlet has been alive with schools numbering in the thousands. The Tarpon and Sharks can be seen blowing the Mullet up at every turn as they navigate out of Mayport Inlet.
We've been cashing in on the abundance of gorging Tarpon this week. It takes next to no effort to load the live well with plenty of feisty, large Mullet. Bait from 6 to 10 inches are clutch right now and they're not in short supply. The best bite has been on the incoming tide, all along the inside of the south jetty.
There are several ways to fish the area. I typically start off drifting a flat lined Mullet up against the rocks and 1 bottom rig in the channel. Once we drift out of the moving Mullet schools, we drag up and give it a go one more time. If we come up with nothing after 2 full drifts, we'll Spot Lock where the bait is the thickest and send out 2 flat lines, and 2 bottom rigs. It's only a matter of time before something gets hammered. Most of the time, the takers are Black Tip Sharks but be patient, the Tarpon are plentiful and if you have a bit of patience, you'll get your shot.
Make the best of those precious Tarpon hookups. Don't skimp on the gear. Use large circle hooks and heavy Fluorocarbon. 7/0 circle hooks and 80 pound fluoro are perfect. Use a long leader on the flat lines. You want the leader to be at least the full length of an adult Tarpon, 7-8 feet long. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because you're using a circle hook, you can't set the hook. Initially, when a Tarpon hits the rig, no, you don't set the hook. However, once you know that fish is tight, give that thing a couple of hard hook sets to ensure that the hook has made full penetration in the jaw. Tarpon mouths are solid bone, most anglers pull the hooks during the jump because the hook hasn't made it's way all the way through the jaw. You can improve your odds further by using quality hooks. Stay away from cheap, bronze hooks. They straighten out far too easily. Owner makes the strongest and sharpest black nickle, circle hooks for my money and they're all I use.
The Flounder are still chewing around the Mayport area. The Pilchards have cleared out. You'll want to load up the live well with plenty of Finger Mullet. Dragging Mullet on a Carolina Rig with a short leader is my go to as of right now. If artificial baits are your thing, you cant beat a Gulp, Swim Mullet or Mantis Shrimp on a jig head. With so much bait being in the river right now, I would highly recommend using live bait. Lure fishing in the river right now is incredibly tough.
You'll have to cover a lot of ground as the flat fish are pretty scattered right now. Fan cast an area, if you don't get anything after a dozen casts, move on to the next spot. It's been challenging but once you find one, you can usually find another one or two in the same general area. Once you start getting bit, be thorough.
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