Best Florida Tarpon Fishing

Maria Garcia
• Monday, 19 October, 2020
• 10 min read

We’d grown up surfing and fishing the same waters on Florida ’s Treasure Coast, and we share a strong connection with the region’s unique ecology and community. Christian disappeared from Vero Beach one May about 15 years ago, Maverick flats' skiff in tow, I knew he was onto something superior.

fishing tarpon florida gulf spring bay tampa coast west flats explosive commenced captain absolute john
(Source: captrichknox.com)


And for that reason, nobody leaves the Treasure Coast in May -- the best month for fishing along the beach and in the Indian River Lagoon -- for just about every species imaginable, including tarpon. It turns out that Christian’s destination was Apalachicola, where a “new” tarpon fishery was slowly making the radar screens of discerning traveling anglers.

Perhaps the tarpon run past towns including Apalachicola, Port St. Joe and Panama City Beach was too seasonal to attract much attention. “From satellite tagging studies, we know that during the late spring adult tarpon migrate clear to the Mississippi River from the Keys and Charlotte Harbor.

Captains typically stake out their boats along the migration route, or poll the shallows in search of fish. This fishery involves 100-percent sight fishing over lush grass flats and sandbars along the brilliant beaches.

In addition to tarpon fishing, the area provides excellent fishing for cobra, redfish and speckled trout. In the late 19th Century, northern anglers flocked to the area for opportunities to catch what many consider the world’s greatest game fish.

In the late 19th Century, northern anglers flocked to the area for opportunities to catch what many consider the world’s greatest game fish. Pine Island Sound produces spectacular crab hatches as well as oily forage fish such as pinkish.

tarpon fishing sarasota florida key siesta fish guide charter fishinglidokey calendar bradenton fl complete charters caught 1390 cast techniques tackle
(Source: fishingsiestakey.com)

Mangrove creeks and shorelines around the sound also hold juvenile tarpon year round, as well as shook, redfish and speckled trout. Fort Myers and Malacca, as well as the islands of Daniel and Captive, all serve as great base camps for tarpon anglers.

Picking the right tackle is often the challenge, since one minute you may cast to rolling juvenile tarpon, then suddenly spot a 100-pound-plus fish laid up sunning itself. Naples and Marco Island are also favorite destinations for traveling anglers targeting the big migratory fish headed toward Coca Grande from late March through June.

Miami’s biggest tarpon claim to fame involves Government Cut and the waters just outside that inlet. The best fishing typically coincides with the legendary Miami Boat Show, which takes place in February.

Reading Time: 8minutesIn this short guide, I’ll teach you the basics of Tarpon fishing in Florida. The Tarpon (Mega lops Atlantic) is among the most popular game fish in Florida.

It’s well known for its acrobatics on the end of a line and capable of jumping up to ten feet out of the water while rattling its gills like an angry diamondback snake. They grow to massive size, with the current IFA world record at 286 lbs 9 oz.

tarpon florida fishing fish beach belize snook lake bait beaches tackle state island cayo costa saltwater gulf charters lures park
(Source: blackwatercharters.com)

While they are edible, people rarely eat Tarpon because their flesh is filled with small, hard to clean bones. Tarpons preferred water temperature is in the 74-88 degrees Fahrenheit range.

Retaining the fish is only permitted if you are pursuing an IFA world record and have purchased a Tarpon tag, which costs around $50 and is limited to one per year per person. May through late July are the best months here, except Key West Harbor which is full of feeding Tarpon January through March.

The Turner River at Chokoloskee is also a good location famous for big Tarpon. Fish are caught all year, with peak season from March to July, during the receding tide.

Coca Grande is the most famous Tarpon fishing location in the world. The best months for fishing are May and June, when people from all over the world come to catch Tarpon.

The flats surrounding Homosassa Bay and the Crystal River are also full of big Tarpon May through June. Apalachicola Bay is a good spot, from June and throughout the entire summer.

tarpon fishing charters boca grande keys florida fish offshore sport sea cozumel fly deep charter trips catch carmen playa del
(Source: www.tripatini.com)

Although found throughout Florida ’s Atlantic coast, ports and inlets south of Biscayne Bay offer the bestTarponfishing. In particular, Government Cut (between Miami Beach and Fisher Island) and Port Everglades, from January to June.

TechniqueRodReelLine Spinning / plug casting (in open water) 7Spin or conventional250 yes of 12-15 lb mono or braided Spinning / plug casting (around mangroves, bridges and piers) 7-8Spin or conventional150 yes of 30 lb mono or braided Inlet and Surf 8-9Spin or 4/0 conventional300 yes of 30-50 lb mono or braided Fly fishing 9-9.5 11-13 weighting end reel with good drag300 yes 30 lb Dacron backing plus 100 yes 25 lb mono shock absorber Double the end of your line at about 6 with a Bimini Twist and attach about 8 of 100 lb mono with a swivel.

Use sharp hooks, as Tarpon have a hard, bony mouth that can be difficult to penetrate. Avoid using floats because they make it difficult for the shrimp to swim naturally.

Raise your rod as you cast to make the shrimp skip on the surface. Use a 6/0-10/0 hook depending on fish size with a large float 6-8 above the bait.

Live or dead fish can be used as bait on the flats, as well as large cut up pieces of mullet, adjusting the float to keep bait fish out of the grass. In the fall and winter, rivers feeding bays are home to large schools of Tarpon.

fishing tarpon destin florida fish
(Source: www.lionstaleadventures.com)

Methods and techniques explained so far will work but bottom fishing with live catfish or lady fish can produce good results also. Biscayne Bay’s Turkey Point cooling canals are winter gathering places for Tarpon.

Use lighter line and cast close enough to sighted fish for them to see your lure. When fishing canals and rivers connected to salt water, use small Rap alas, Rebels, and round-headed crappie jigs about 1/8 oz.

Using weighted lures when fishing for Tarpon is prohibited and carries a hefty fine. When Tarpon are sighted feeding on mullet, 7”-9” white flies with dark stripes are good.

Speed up and twitch more if a fish starts following to entice a hit. Anglers frequently measure how good a fishing day it has been by stating how many Tarpon they “jumped”, instead of landed.

If the fish takes while swimming towards you, set the hook several times in quick succession. In spite of all your efforts at hook setting, be prepared for the majority of fish to shake free.

fishing tarpon florida seasons fish boca grande
(Source: floridatarponsportfishing.com)

Because nearly all Tarpon are released, some fishermen remove or flatten the hook barb. For an even greater chance of catching tarpons or what is known as the silver king, the best place anglers can go to is the waters of Florida.

A great aspect of Florida tarpon fishing is that, depending on the chosen method, even a rookie can land a 100+ plus-pounder. This can be accomplished by using live bait on a circle hook in a channel where Tarpon is most aggressive.

Why some would say live-bait fishing is the easy way, it does take the necessary additional skills to catch one on artificial lures. And maybe even additional step in talent to weaponize your self with a fly rod and tackle the Silver King.

In this article we're going to cover the bestTarponfishing seasons in Florida and how they vary from one area of the state to another. There is one place in Florida where a typical 80-day season can produce an average of 5,000 Tarpons landed.

The Coca Grande Pass is located on the Florida West Coast, just at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor. Charlotte Harbor is even renowned for being one of the nation’s largest underdeveloped estuaries.

tarpon fish fishing florida calendar catch jump fl pass game times grande bass difficult finding during practically pound battled boco
(Source: www.gameandfishmag.com)

The main attraction in fishing in Coca Grande Pass is the “hill tide”. During the spring tides of the full and new moon, there are millions of “pass crabs” that get washed out from Charlotte Harbor to spawn.

It is during this time that anglers can find a feeding frenzy with giant tarpon getting intoxicated by crabs. The Florida Keys are a vast and troublesome place for some anglers to fine Tarpon, know that is the same for everyone.

While present near the Keys year-round, peak season runs from March until July. But as the year progresses, they start moving to the Atlantic side looking for deep water.

Starting sometime in May, lasting through the middle of July is the best month to focus on the bridges that hold Tarpon. To catch more resident fish and exception to the rule, in Key West Harbor has feeding Tarpon January through March every year.

Simply because it is uninhabited, the Islands are located South of Key West and are only accessible by boat. While located just north of the Florida Keys, Miami is a big part of the FloridaTarpon migration pattern.

tarpon fishing florida shark wrong gone
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Because of its vast port and inlets south of Biscayne Bay it provides a fabulous location for Tarpon to migrate and fee on there way down the coast of Florida. Specifically in the Government Cut (between Miami Beach and Fisher Island) and Port Everglades, look for this migration of tarpon to show up from February and hand around to June.

To help eliminate some water if at all possible, any city in Florida with a Port can be moved up the list of great Tarpon locations too visit. Many of these are found throughout Florida ’s Atlantic coast, with ports and inlets offering great Tarpon fishing.

Other great Tarpon cities in Florida are Stuart, New Smyrna, St Augustine of course Jacksonville all on the east coast. Skipping Coca Grande because we covered that about, Clearwater, St Petersburg, and Tampa all provide some of the finest Tarpon fishing in Florida during prime times.

Tarpons when hooked, are known for there somersaults, high jumps and massive head shakes. The signature move known through the industry for fishingTarpon is to “bow to the King.” What is that, so as the Tarpon is about to leap out of the water, lower your rod tip and point your rod outwards towards the fish to provide the line slack.

You can attempt to hold your fingers on the spool to slow the pace, but not recommended. You will notice a considerable difference in the run and pulling, and they usually start to roll on its side.

tarpon silver fishing king florida
(Source: www.youtube.com)

This is why you see so many pictures these days with the angler is in the water because of good conservation practices. Records show the release rate has more than doubled in the past decade because of circle hooks.

The main reason, the lighter line will be used for casting distance when sighting fish. The spinning reel will also help with controlling retrieve of the lure action and speed.

Additionally, taking up the slack when a fish hits and comes at you or maybe just work lures in current, both are vital and accomplished better with spinning equipment. When we are referring to the weight of the lure, this could be accomplished by hook size or adding lead.

Commonly used by fly anglers is a streamer that has good contrast with the ocean bottom. Standard, orange, yellow, and red patterns are effective over sandy bottoms.

But big horse shrimp, pinkish, pilchards, and specialty crabs on a circle hook often land these fish with success. Knowing when to free the bait, or offer it up on a float to keep it in the center of the water column.

tarpon fishing florida keys april islamorada charters tagged
(Source: www.budnmarysblog.com)

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