Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

Florida Fishing Report

Our Florida fishing report page offers up to date information on fishing in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Orlando and Boca Grande area of Florida's West Coast. For more information on our Florida fishing charters and tarpon fishing charters, please click the link below

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What on earth was that, Tat?” was the reaction of A. W. Dimock in February of 1882, near Shell Island at the mouth of the Homosassa River to his boatman “Tat”.  Tat replied, “Mus be a tarpum” as the two gaped at the fury jumping on the end of Dimock’s line.  However, after an epic battle, Dimock got the fish to the boat where it was lost on a straightened gaff designed to hold nothing larger than a salmon.  There was no tackle available in those days to defeat the silver king by rod and reel, let alone land one.

Dimock traveled the unspoiled west coast of Florida  living off the land with his son and cameraman, Julian.  The two endured the rawness of old Florida and documented their enduring adventures with the earliest photographs and stories published in several periodicals and three books called “The Book of Tarpon”, “Dick in the Everglades” and “Florida Enchantments”.  The father and son were fearless and risked life in their pursuit of tarpon and side show attractions such as moonshine stills.  Dimock detailed several close encounters with giant sharks that preyed upon their tarpon that, on occasion, jettisoned them from their canoes and wooden rowboats. Prior to the times of Dimock, tarpon were considered only to be captured by harpoon and finished off with lance.  Dimock never received the credit for landing the first tarpon on rod and reel and the debate on who did still exists today.  

In 1885, Frank S. Pinckney wrote an article that was published in The Fort Myers Press and Forest and Stream detailing the rod and reel of capture of a 93-pound tarpon on March 12, 1885 by W. H. Wood from the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.  The two New Yorkers are credited with being the first to expose Florida tarpon fishing. The claim to Wood’s first rod and reel tarpon was later surrounded in classic tarpon controversy when Forest and Stream reported that the first sizable tarpon was caught in 1878 by S.H. Jones of Philadelphia at Indian River Inlet. Unfortunately for Dimock, his 1882 event told in the “Book of Tarpon” was not published until 1911. Soon after Pinckney’s article in 1885 and prior to his subsequent 1888 book “The Tarpon or Silver King”, tarpon were given a gamefish status to protect them from harpoons (methods known as “striking” or “graining”) and nets that were considered the only productive methods for taking tarpon.  

Rod and reel technology improved when reel innovator Edward vom Hofe showed up on the scene to test his reels against giant tarpon. Mr. vom Hofe obtained the first patents of the “star drag” that he designed to counter the fury of giant tarpon and they are still universally used today.

Edward vom Hofe further etched his name in the archives of history by landing the largest tarpon ever taken by rod and reel on April 30, 1898; a 210 pound tarpon taken in Captiva Pass.  With the generation of mass publicity, the development of transportation, and the refinement of big game tackle, Florida became world renowned for its shallow water tarpon fishing – forever. 


In 1886, The London Observer exposed Florida’s giant tarpon fishery to the international community and the English sportsmen. In 1889, Robert Grant’s “Tarpon Fishing in Florida” can be fairly accredited as the first “how to and where to” national publication on tarpon fishing in Florida. 

And so it was in the beginning, just as it is today.

In an 1889 tarpon-fishing article, O.A. Mygatt wrote, “Verily, the lover’s jealousy may be a green-eyed monster, but compared with the jealousy of a tarpon fisherman towards his brother sportsman it counteth as nothing.”  Tarpon have a long history of establishing social classes, but they are reserved for no Waltonian, nor Tom Sawyer. Tarpon are a public resource to all (under the rules and regulations of the state of Florida). Tarpon are the most non-discriminate big game catches in the world due to their habitat of close proximity to our shoreline.

Fishermen from all walks of life and social status catch them.  They can be taken from our areas piers, docks, roadside ditches, causeways, bridges, bays, rivers, beaches, passes, canals and jetties.  They are fished from kayaks, canoes, rowboats, johnboats, and jet skis to $50,000 skiffs and million dollar yachts. They are tackled on everything from Zebco Rhinos to $1,500 fly rods. By the very nature of tarpon habits, physique and temperament, they may not be for everyone who likes to go catching, however, they are the pinnacle in the hunt for big game and for those with the passion for the sport of fishing.  Giant tarpon are the ultimate aquatic safari and the major league championship of fishing equivalent to the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Daytona 500, the Tour de France or the World Cup.

Florida Fishing Tarpon

The tarpon’s exposure to man has been a progressive metamorphose of modern technology. Today, the Net, fiber optics, and satellites are just a few of sources responsible for filling the magical minds of the sporting world over. I too have played a long history in of participation, though I strive for responsibility, accountability and stewardship for the fish. I carry these messages incorporated throughout my daily life. I am confident that within the passion of both the salty dog and the green horn tarpon fisher, that my 23 year career dedicated to these special fish is clear to anyone inquiring. To me, the choice is clear.

At this time, water temperatures are hovering around 64 degrees and dropping below 60 with the passing fronts. When we hit the benchmark of 68 to 70, the first of the giant tarpon will sneak into the deeper water of the larger bays and rivers. The vernal equinox (even hours of daylight to darkness) occurs on March 20th, which will be immediately followed by a dark moon on March 26th. With a little temperate weather, some consistent giant tarpon will likely be found starting at that time and in those places.

For me, the intrigue of tarpon is found within the theater of serenity, euphoric desertion and sovereignty that I can share with many who have the same common ambitions as myself. The ferocious rattle of the gill rakers, the majestic tail walk dance of the silver king, and the stamina of the wild beast against man are all just bonuses. We merely play our role as pawns in a game held in the king’s court. A challenge we refer to as our annual calling. Tarpon are American built.

Florida Fishing Charter

Currently, trout and redfish have been the daily bags and I expect that to continue the next few weeks. As the days lengthen and the water temperatures hold consistently in the upper 60's snook and at minimum, juvenile tarpon will oblige to our offerings the first grand slams of 2009 will be taken. As a general rule of thumb, migratory species such as cobia, king and Spanish mackerel, permit will make the scene around St. Patrick's day. Nearshore grouper fishing too will pick up as the fish slide in from the deeper insulated waters. The full moon on February 9th and the dark moon on February 24th will likely see the peak of the nearshore and inshore sheepshead spawn. The porgies offer excellent table fair and offer the finest in finesse fishing. 

Call your personal trainer, start your weight training today, and bring plenty of Ben Gay as the zenith of 2009 Florida fishing is now just weeks away. Now is the time to book with the country's top rated and time proven tarpon and flats guide.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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