Giant Tarpon Season is here.

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April, May and June are the months when the “Mighty Silver Kings” start their annual trek into the Florida Keys.  This special area in the Keys happens to be the most conducive for attracting giant tarpon because of the easily accessible bait feeding grounds.  Tarpon can be found around most bridges in the Keys, my favorite being the bridges of Channel Two and Channel Five on the Overseas Highway, Mile Marker 72.  Anglers from the world over come to Islamorada during these months to claim their tarpon trophy.

Leaping Giant Tarpon

Leaping Giant Tarpon

There is even a World Wide Sportsman store there where everything from tackle to clothing can be purchased.

After reading about these prized giant catches in the fishing magazines, I became one of those anglers who was lured into the mystique of hooking a tarpon.   My challenge was to learn everything there was to know about the techniques of outsmarting these trophy fish and now my goal is to share whatever knowledge I have garnered throughout my 35 years of experience.

My first point of advice is:  Prepare your strategy in advance.  Take time to check the tide charts for the day you plan your trip.  Best tides for possible bites will be one hour before and one hour after tide change, high tide being my preference.  Since tarpon have air bladders that require frequent gulps of air, possibly 10 or more tarpon can be seen at a time surfacing and gulping air while you are drifting with the tide.  Sometimes they will eat your bait and other times they will have lockjaw.
Tarpon like to feed on live shrimp, pinfish, mullet, crabs and will even eat a dead ladyfish or mullet on the bottom.  If you want to increase the odds of a successful catch, “Matching the Hatch” is a rule of thumb to remember.  Since mullet are plentiful in Florida Bay during April and May, baiting with live mullet is the best bet to land a 100 lb. tarpon, with live pinfish being the second best choice.  Another tasty tidbit that tarpon will readily eat are live crabs which can be bought or caught at the end of May through June.

Make sure your reels hold enough line to accommodate the tarpon’s run.  My reels hold over 300 yards of 20lb. braided or monofilament line and I prefer using the Ocean Master OM70 Spinning Reel, combined with an Ocean Master IM7 Light Tackle 7ft, Spinning Rod OM20 STB which will hold 300 yds. of 20lb. test OffShore Angler Magibraid.  A circle hook, sized large for mullet and smaller for pinfish, and crabs with an 80 to 100lb., 7ft. fluorocarbon leader is my choice of hooks, with a round cork bobber to keep the bait off the bottom.  Fishing with circle hooks will enable the tarpon’s strike and first run to hook themselves.

Giant Tarpon

A Giant Tarpon caught by Captain Brian

When the tarpon strikes, make sure you wind tightly and bow to the “Silver King” when he makes his jump, sometimes up to 6ft. out of the water.  Bowing will prevent breakage of your line in the event the fish falls across the line during his re-entry into the water.  When hooked, a tarpon will peel at least 100 to 200 yds. of line of his first run while sky-rocketing into the air 3,4 or even 5 times.

During this first run, the angler will experience an adrenalin rush, the likes of which he has never known and wants to repeat again and again.  Since the month of April is a few weeks away, your tarpon adventure should be booked now!  So, if you wish to try your luck at catching the “Mighty Silver King” this year, your best bet would be to hire Captain Brian, Pro Staffer at the Dania Beach/Fort Lauderdale Bass Pro Shops.  I am available for tarpon trips during April, May and June.  Click on my website at www.floridabayfishing.com or call 954-822-8568 for your adventure of a lifetime!

For those who utilize “apps” on their iphones, etc., I have been fortunate to discover www.NationalFishingReport.com which is a new method of accessing up-to-date weather, tide charts, fishing reports and more.

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