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Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon-FishingThe Atlantic Tarpon is more commonly known as silver king by tarpon anglers. Fishing for this prehistoric fish is every angler’s dream as a juvenile tarpon, on average, weighs from 20 to 60 pounds.  However, mature tarpon weigh in the hundreds as proven by the current world record of 283 pounds.  Sightings of 300-pounder tarpon were reported that there is a quiet but frenzied race to land such a catch.

Tarpon are saltwater fish. They do not thrive in cold water that during the winter season migrate to warmer water. Their migration has not been fully documented for in truth, a tarpon is note viable for commercial use as its meat is not good enough to be eaten.Though called Atlantic Tarpon, this fish species is common in the warmer parts of the Atlantic Ocean though they tend to migrate to warmer water. By spring, tarpon begin to appear in the coast of Florida and to the warmer coastline up to the Gulf of Mexico. The migration continues up to the month of June with the tarpon preferring to stay in bays and inlets in readiness for spawning.Tarpon spawn offshore. While they congregate near the shoreline and bays, mature tarpon take a break from their “daisy chaining” and head offshore to spawn. After the spawning and fertilization period, the tarpon go back near the shore for a northbound migration. During this period some tarpon will stray and enter harbors, bays, lakes and rivers until the cold front.The hatched eggs will travel inshore in lakes, rivers and creeks where they will stay until they mature and head back to the sea. Tarpon have swim bladder that acts as a lung so that they can actually “breath” air in fresh or murky water.


Tips for Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon fishing is mostly catch and release since its meat cannot be eaten.  The best time to fish for tarpon is from early spring to late fall.  Mature tarpon start to show up in the coastal water of Florida near Tampa Bay in March.  These mature tarpon can weigh from 100 to 200 pounds.  Most bonafide anglers agree that the peak season for tarpon fishing is from April 15 to October 15.

At the start of the season, tarpon are found mostly in saltwater flats, beaches and passes. After spawning, the mature tarpon population seems to disappear mainly because they are now ready for a northbound migration.  During this time, late season tarpon are mostly found in bays and rivers en route to their destination.

Tarpon are voracious eaters. They eat day and night. They seem to be in the same spot year after year to feed. They can be found near bridges, river and bay mouths, oyster bars, grass edges, docks, piles, channels, holes and any submerged object.

Any fishing technique will do. You can try plugging, flyfishing, corking using live bait, drifting, trolling and bottom fishing. Whatever works for you.  The important thing is that your gear and tackle must be strong enough to carry on an energetic fight with a mature tarpon.

fishing1Tackle and Gear for Tarpon Fishing

Most experienced tarpon anglers prefer fly fishing tarpon. Fly rods from 12-13 weight and a length from 6 ½ to 7 feet in length will do.   The fly reel should have of high quality to ensure a smooth drag.  A 30-pound test for backing is preferred.  The spool should have at least 300 yards of line with 500 yards preferred.  Tarpon are keen on blue, brown and purple cockroaches as flies.

A 20 to 30 lb conventional or spinning rig matched with a 15 to 20 lb monofilament test line will do. Make sure though that the line is properly connected to a 6-12 feet of an 80-100 lb monofilament shock leader.

The size of the hook depends on the expected weight of a tarpon to land. Most anglers use hook from 4/0 to 7/0 live bait hook and an 11/0 circle hook.

fishing1Where are the Tarpon?

…Mostly in Florida during from March to late October.  The beaches along the coast of Florida are teeming with tarpon during the spawning season.  They usually start to come in late March at the mouth of Tampa Bay.  The Boca Grande, Clearwater and St. Petersburg offer a great opportunity to catch and release mature tarpon.

The Charlotte Harbor Estuary includes the Peace, Myakka and Caloosahatchee River and here, many species of fish including the juvenile tarpon (20-60 lbs) gather during the first 10 years of their lives.  Tarpon are also found near Apollo Beach, MacDill Air Force Bay and Mermaid Point, Orlando and Sarasota.

You might want to try the coastline and inlets of Alabama for tarpon for after all it’s Alabama’s official saltwater fish.