I cant even begin to express my passion for chasing tarpon! There is simply no other fishing that comes close to the experience, adrenaline rush, and satisfaction of chasing and catching the "SIlver King." Once a tarpon is hooked, you can expect them to rip tons of line off your reel in seconds, jump uo to 8 feet in the air, and give you a battle that will leave you admiring the power of these amazing fish!
Every year, tarpon begin to migrate along both coast of Florida. They reach the Tampa Bay area in late April and stick around till about July. Now we do catch tarpon year round, but the "big fish" in the 80-200 pound range are here in the greatest numbers during the summer. We target these fish in all kinds of areas including the bridges, passes, rivers, reefs, and beaches. They will eat anything from a silver dollar sized pass crab, to a live ladyfish!
Tarpon are a prehistoric fish with massive scales, They can even breathe air! Many mistake the "rolling" of a tarpon to be them feeding, while in fact it is them just gulping air. They get these habits from growing up in low oxygen estuaries when they are just a few inches long! in fact, when battling a tarpon, we due our best to ensure that the fish does not gulp because it will get more energy from this and the long battle just gets extended.
One of the best times to catch tarpon is during a crab flush on the "hill tides." A few days before and after the summer full and new moons, millions of crabs are pulled offshore by strong outgoing tides which occur in the evening. During these tides, tarpon stage up around our passes and bridges and slurp down hundreds of crabs. It is not uncommon to encounter double and triple hook ups during this chaos. It makes for some of the best tarpon fishing in the Tampa Bay area!
We catch tarpon all summer long even when the hill tides are not occurring! I have many different methods that I use based off of the situation presented and other factors that can be just as, if not more effective.
Tarpon conservation is extremely important to me. For this reason and by law, we do not remove any tarpon from the water! This puts unnecessary strain on the fish, and they are purely catch and release. We get some magazine quality photos just from the fish laying along side the boat in the water with constant flow through their gills! We will also "pop" the line on any tarpon that is being chased by a bull or hammerhead shark. As the tarpon get tired during the fight, the sharks wait till the right moment to eat them. Thats right, these sharks will eat a 150 lb fish in no time. Breaking the line gives the fish the best chance at survival. This does not happen often, but we see it a few times a season.
Tarpon are by far one of the hardest fish to hook and land. It is said that a 30% landing ratio of fish hooked is about the standard. Some days we land them all, some days we land none. But hey, that is tarpon fishing and what keeps us doing it every day! Tarpon will push your body to its limits. You can expect to spend between 20 minutes to 90 minutes to land a tarpon depending on its size! I recommend 3 people for tarpon charters due to the fact that the styles of fishing make 4 lines in the water at a time very difficult. I often do 4 and can make it happen, but please let me know so we can plan accordingly.
Come out with me and find out what has caused me to have an obsession with everything that is tarpon fishing! The same passion and dedication is spread to my clients, many of whom make their annual trip every year to come pull on the greatest fish that swims!