The Florida tarpon fishing tips mini-series covers all aspects of fishing Florida Giant tarpon on the saltwater flats and backcountry of Boca Grande, Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Orlando, and the Disney area. Learn tarpon biology to the charter secrets of Florida tarpon fishing guide, Capt. Robert McCue. Whether you are a flyfishing guru or a light tackle warrior, the tarpon mini-series offers Florida tarpon fishing tips for pros and novices alike. We invite you to review the entire Bounty Hunter Florida Sport Fishing Charters & Guide Service site in making your decision upon taking Florida fishingcharter.
Here they come, one o'clock a big wad" I
said, as I hit the
hi-bypass of my electric trolling motors to intercept the path of the
giant tarpon. Their black mass just visible in
the light green Florida saltwater, 500 yards off the beach. A few fish
roll, their giant
eyes looking right at us. "Give 'em the filet mignon" I suggested to
angler. The blue crab lands well ahead of the school and slowly sinks
out of sight as the
huge mass of tarpon closes in. The rod tip bounces and the angler
cranks the handle of the
large spinning reel in a fury to come tight to the beast. "Jab 'em, hit
again," my voice cracks with a rush of adrenaline, like a trainer in
corner during a title fight. A 5-foot surface- to-air- tarpon
missile launches, the
gills rattle like a threatened diamondback as the king walks on his
tail across water. The
tarpon beast cartwheels in attempt to throw the razor sharp hook.
Its body lights up
in a array of silver and so does the angler, and the guide wonders, who
Another Florida tarpon fishing charter success story, another Florida
tarpon gone bad.
I make my run to the tarpon battlefield in the early morning darkness and kill my outboard a half-hour before first light in the theater of probability. Tarpon hate outboards, (they may not chase them away...but do change their temperament in shallower water) and I feel it's very important not to "run" anywhere you expect them to be. As the sun rises, all eyes study the water for signs of the tarpon. Tarpon almost always give themselves away by "rolling" on the surface, other times they may "fin," just a portion of their tail or dorsal breaks the surface. Other times a "pop" will be heard of the feeding "poon". If none are spotted after a patient "stakeout", I will move well outside of the anticipated travel path of the fish and slowly idle northward parallel to the beach thus as I expect the tarpon to be generally moving south in early spring. Stalking tarpon is similar to buck hunting, except it's a little bit warmer! We are always staked out some where waiting. This is a major part of tarpon fishing. If you are one who is not this type we suggest fishing for another species. Of course, the payoff is huge.
As soon as I spot the tarpon fish, I turn the big motor off and make my final approach and adjustments with a pair of high-thrust electric trolling motors. The same technique is used when I am tarpon fishing on the saltwater flats, with the exception that I never use a gas motor in hunting tarpon in shallow water. Tarpon on the beach are often found in 8 to 25 feet of water and can tolerate a gas motor idling a few hundred yards away.
Tarpon on the Florida flats will not stand for a gas motor in the clear shallows. At a good distance the fish may not "spook" but their feeding will turn off. Flats tarpon are always "spooky." I search for these fish using a combination of the push-pole and electric motors, and only approach to make a presentation via push-pole, as these fish are sensitive to the whirl of the electric's. The key to catching Florida flats and beach tarpon is to be patient. An angler who stakes out an area is more likely to encounter "happy" tarpon than those who insist on moving at fish quickly.
often sit outside of pods of tarpon and study their movements, their
speed, and the attitude of the fish. If the tarpon( as they often do
around the moons and in the early season) are moving fast and rolling
high ("greyhounding") and the area has a lot of fish moving through, I
will often let these "greyhounding" fish pass on. These tarpon fish are
hurried, and about as likely to stop as the average guy late for a date
with Demi Moore. Remember, these are pre-spawn fish. By letting them
pass I can concentrate on finding "happy" fish, those moving slowly,
milling or stopping to feed. A properly presented bait to these fish
will often result in a hookup. If the pods are coming infrequently I'll
work all schools I can. Being able to make quick, yet patient decisions
is also key in catching beach and saltwater flats tarpon.
Not to mention that a 6-foot tarpon knows not many things only 2 inches long have the nerve to charge them. A 50-foot distance is about right, with 100 feet getting the nod on greyhounders. Overcastting is a good idea as you can always reel the bait back toward the fish quickly and silently. This technique works well on spooky flats tarpon too.
unique situation on the flats is a
"laid up" tarpon. These fish are suspended motion-less just under the
We can either see the fish from a short distance under the water, or
the tips of their
fins break the surface. What these fish are doing is the speculation of
Some believe they are sleeping, others say they are resting after a
long swim. One thing
is for certain, they don't like small baits in front of their noses.
These tarpon are
extremely spooky. They are perfect for a well placed silent fly.
Otherwise cast well ahead
of the fish and let your baits drift in front of the fish. Oh yea, HOLD
Tackle for this light tackle
beach and flats fishing should be of good
quality and in top working order. On our fishing charters a medium
spinning rod with a
reel capable of holding 250 yards of 20-pound test is standard. You
will be encountering
fish averaging 100 pounds, but could push 200. Tackle can be
scaled up or down
depending on your skill. The 20-pound gear offers lots of fun and a
challenge, and allows
a healthy release of these beautiful animals. Hooks should be heavy
duty and very sharp.
An 80- to 125-pound-test leader of a foot to six feet in length is a
length and strength being decided by the technique you prefer.The
one bait that stands alone when it comes to fishing Florida tarpon is a
crab, with 2.5 to 4 inches being the size preferred by the pros. I like
to fish them with
no weight or float under most situations, but many prefer them.
Palm-size pinfish, grunts
and herring make great live baits. Dead bait in the form of pinfish and
shad often will
out produce anything. This is a specialty of a few and I strongly
recommend that unless
you know where to find the choice menhaden and know how to fish them,
you should hire a
pro. For many the only way to take a tarpon is by using a piece of
plastic or a feather as
bait. The Cotee Liv'
Eye action jig with a 4 inch shad tail is highly productive, as is the
65M Mirrolure on the
beach and the 52M Mirrolure on the flats. Prime
colors include red, green
Saltwater flyfishing has become
very popular over the last few years. I recommend that
those with little fly fishing experience or those who have never caught
a tarpon on fly apply their efforts toward the beach. You need not be a expert to hook
up on fly with
beach tarpon, though being able to double-haul and cast somewhat
on the beach are much easier to approach and the margin for error is
flats tarpon are very spooky, casting great distances accurately on
heavier than normal
tackle is required. Just 20 miles of my house is the world-famous
Homosassa tarpon flat.
Most world record tarpon on fly have been caught here. I must admit the
tarpon fishing is
very demanding and over the years has become a little crowded, further,
it's not as good
as it used to be. The area is regarded as reserved for fly fishing.
Anglers interested in
trying it another way should take my warning and not go there unarmed!
The fly is probably
the best way to hook a tarpon on the flats. A good cast is silent,
swift and deadly on
these big fish. A 12- or 13-weight fly rod with a high quality reel and
smooth drag are
standard tarpon tamers. Mono core "slime line" and 3M Mastery sinking
taper works great on the beach and has grown some popularity on the
flats where floating,
weight-forward is the norm. Backing should be of 30-pound test, with
300 yards adequate
and 500 being better, as it increases the diameter of the arbor, making
it easier to pick
up line quicker. Good flies are blue, purple and brown cockroaches and
death" on the beach.
In part three of Florida tarpon fishing tips, we will look at Boca
Grande, the world's best tarpon fishing.
| Tarpon Fishing Part I | Tarpon Fishing Part III | Tarpon Fishing Part IV |
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