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. 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.
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. Although found throughout Florida ’s Atlantic coast, ports and inlets south of Biscayne Bay offer the bestTarponfishing.
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. 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.
When using hard lures, strike as soon as you feel a heavy weight at the end of your line. 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. Once you’ve solidly hooked a Tarpon, expect lots of high jumps, somersaults, and gill-rattling.
While this is their peak season down in South Florida, Tarpon is a great sport fish worthy of your attention any time of year. Tarpon can inhabit both freshwater and saltwater; throughout the Atlantic from Brazil to Virginia, the Caribbean, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
One of our favorite places to fish Tarpon, before their summer migration season, is the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park. In the Florida Everglades and Keys, Tarpon fly-fishing is a sport all on its own.
There’s a technique to navigating the maze of the Everglades and backcountry, finding the mighty Tarpon, and even which fly to use to get their attention. Only when the Tarpon is close and you’re sure the bait is swallowed do you set the hook and reel in hard.
Fly-fishing for Tarpon is a difficult technique to master, with an unwilling companion in the action, but it’s absolutely worth it! Large plugs trolled far behind the vessel is another option; just be mindful of the speed of the boat.
Whether your drift fishing, casting, or trolling for Tarpon, we recommend using live bait. Shrimp is a great option, as is small bait fish such as mullet, pinkish, or pilchards.
Whatever your technique, when you hook a Tarpon, stay on top of the line to not lose control. They are strong, stubborn fish that are difficult to reel in, but worth the adrenaline rush every time.
We recommend starting your Tarpon fishing charter early in the day, as Tarpon tend to be harder to find as the sun rises, or the wind picks up. (And yet, on a really sunny day sometimes the sun will reflect off a Tarpon ’s scales and you can get lucky… but that’s a rare find).
Bruce Browne fished with Michael O’Brien Charters on September 28, 2021 All day was terrific we had time to learn to fish for Tarpon.
Hooked a large Tarpon what excitement was not ready for the jumping. Chris put on a mastery showing of knowledge and professionalism during our trip.
Friendly, personable and laid back- yet all business in teaching our kids the proper way to fish Tarpon and Shook. His methods put us on the fish as well as having a relaxing afternoon on the water.
Even with the weather not in our favor Captain Charles was able to put us on some big fish. Based on 19,601 reviews by Fishing Booker anglers you find your deal on another fishing website at a lower rate, contact our customer care team.