What the Pro’s Say About Tarpon Fishing

Gear: Florida Sportsmen

Anglers seeking big fish in passes, channels, deep bays and surf areas like stout tackle with lines testing at least 30 pounds. All sizes of spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle get lots of play for smaller fish.The same types of gear, although of heavier proportions, are also used for big fish on shallow flats.

Use at least 15-pound line on spinning and casting gear, and at least a 10-weight fly outfit with minimum 16-pound tippet. Heavy monofilament leaders or tippets are required because of the Tarpon’s very rough mouth. Drift-fishermen in the passes and inlets prefer live baits—mainly small crabs and small fish. All Tarpon will take dead baits, such as a Mullet head or half Mullet, fished patiently on the bottom.

For trolling or surfcasting with heavier gear, large jigs, spoons, and lipped plugs get the call. Generally, casters enjoy the most success with swimming plugs, jerk plugs, and surface plugs. Fly fishermen rely heavily on scissor-action feather streamers and bulky bucktail streamers.

Baits: The Online Fisherman

The most effective method for catching tarpon is using live bait, especially on the days they’re just not biting. As with any fish, to find the natural bait that works for a fish, you look at their natural diet. Tarpon eat a variety of estuarine and marine fish when on the coasts, including mullet, menhaden, sardines, anchovies, and pinfish, as well as blue crabs – all of which are great live baits excluding the anchovies.

Fish that are fairly large, shiny, and active on the end of a hook will usually be appetizing to a Tarpon. Many fish out there may fit this role, including Blue Runners and Mojarras.

Location: Huk Gear

Tarpon are highly migratory. To catch one, you have to be in the right place at the right time. Throughout their long lives, tarpon travel many thousands of miles across their range which extends from the Atlantic Coast of Brazil to Virginia and beyond. Some of the greatest concentrations of tarpon, however, are found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Every year starting in April or May, tarpon leave their warm water winter homes near Mexico and Central America and head north. After a long journey, they move into bays and passes from Texas to Florida where they feast on local forage—blue crabs are a favorite—in preparation for their annual spawning event. While Tarpon spawn offshore, the time period before they head to sea is when anglers should make their move. If you time it right and come prepared, tarpon can be caught in many inshore waters throughout the Gulf Coast.

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