They are fast and elusive, with hard mouths that make it difficult to set the hook. Brandon and crew weren’t just lucky with their timing on their March fishing trip in Tampa.
Southwest Florida is one of those places where tarpon are generally found throughout the year, but the bite starts to get hot in March and continues until July. The mouth of Tampa Bay is known as a great spot to cast for silver kings, they like to target their prey here as the tide is going out.
Plan your visit during May and June; these are the best months to fish for tarpon in the Florida Keys. Mosquito Lagoon has a similar habitat to the Florida Keys, lots of shallow water that the tarpon prefer.
Even if you do get your hook in one, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be successful in reeling it back to the boat. If sight fishing with conventional tackle in water over 10 feet, use heavy spinning rods with live bait, soft-plastics, jigs or plugs.
Tarpon feed on crustaceans, so a live shrimp or crab offering is a good choice. Again, you’ll want a heavy rod (12-weight is recommended) with at least 200 yards of backing, 300 is preferred.
Once the hook is set, tarpon will run the opposite direction fast, screaming (and maybe even smoking) your reel in the meantime. No matter what time of year you want to go tarpon fishing, we recommend booking a guide well in advance.
Don’t wait until the day or even a week before your trip to reserve your charter; the best guides in the area will be booked up at least a month in advance. You may not be like Brandon and land seven tarpon in one trip, but you can still try to be a legend to your friends and attempt an amazing story like this one.
Updated on May 14, 2019 | 8 minute read | Written by Human 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. 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.
Tarpon can be caught every day of the year in the Florida Keys, but there are some times that are more interesting to certain anglers than others. Even the small resident fish (5-20 lbs) will move out of their regular spots and stay in deeper water.
If it is a warm January, however, the baby tarpon are more plentiful and the biggest fish of the year start to show up at the bridges, harbors and in the backcountry. Locals, guides and the luckiest anglers usually take advantage of these rare and warm January days.