Contact Us: 833-I-GO-FISH (446-3474)
Contact Us: 833-I-GO-FISH (446-3474)
Contact Us: 833-I-GO-FISH (446-3474)
Contact Us: 833-I-GO-FISH (446-3474)

Tarpon Fishing in South Florida

June 11, 2019

Everything You Need to Know About Tarpon Fishing in South Florida

Jay's Tarpon Catch

The best time to fish Tarpon in South Florida is without a doubt March thru June. While this is their peak season down in South Florida, Tarpon is a great sportfish worthy of your attention any time of year.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tarpon, let’s get a quick run-down of what makes this fish a spectacular catch:

  • Also known as “Silver Kings” – Tarpon are silver in color with a deep, thick body and forked tail.
  • It’s common for Tarpon to weigh 80-100 pounds, but some have been known to reach over 200 pounds.
  • Tarpon can inhabit both freshwater and saltwater; throughout the Atlantic from Brazil to Virginia, the Caribbean, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • If the water is warm enough, you can find Tarpon in backcountry estuaries during the winter.
  • Tarpon put up a heck-of-a-fight and are known to jump furiously out of the water trying to spit the hook.
  • Not for harvesting; Tarpon are catch-and-release only for preservation purposes.

One of our favorite places to fish Tarpon, before their summer migration season, is the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park. There are lots of opportunity to encounter a “Silver King” during this time of year, making these fishing grounds a great place to fish for Tarpon. Whether you’re fishing the backcountry/flats of the Florida Everglades, or the nearshore waters of the Florida Keys, we’ve got several techniques to recommend for your next Tarpon fishing trip:

Tarpon jumping, fishing in Boca Grande

 Fly Fishing for Tarpon

In the Florida Everglades and Keys, Tarpon fly fishing is a sport all on its own. There’s a technique to navigating the maze of the Everglades and backcountry, finding the mighty Tarpon, and even which fly to use to get their attention. It’s become an obsession for many anglers, often leading to frustration and pure joy in the same outing.

An excellent fly to use when catching Tarpon is the slow-sinking Toad; we also recommend Purple and Black fly, or even Chartreuse has been an effective color. When a Tarpon swallows the lure, don’t try to set the hook too early. You’ll also want to keep the rod pointed low and with the line hand drag the line back. Only when the Tarpon is close and you’re sure the bait is swallowed do you set the hook and reel in hard. Fly fishing for Tarpon is a difficult technique to master, with an unwilling companion in the action, but it’s absolutely worth it!

Drift Fishing for Tarpon

Try drift fishing when Tarpon are in deeper waters. Have your boat facing the current and drop your line back to let the current do the work. If it’s a strong current you won’t need to add a weight, but if you do need to help the current a little: adding an egg weight will help. Allow the current to drift your boat and the line straight to the Tarpon.

Trolling for Tarpon

When trolling for Tarpon, we recommend putting two baits behind the boat: one located about 30 feet back, and the second about twice as far back at 60 feet. Large plugs trolled far behind the vessel is another option; just be mindful of the speed of the boat.

Casting for Tarpon

Spinning or Baitcasting for Tarpon is another option. Get ready to work as repetition is key here. If you spot Tarpon, don’t scare them away by casting too close; target a nearby spot that they’ll notice but not get startled – then you can get ready to set that hook. Wait until you feel the weight of the Tarpon, then you’ll know he’s swallowed the bait. Then get ready to reel in fast, and when the Tarpon jumps (not if… WHEN) don’t sweat it. Just let the line out and keep fighting. When fishing for Tarpon, it could take anywhere from 30-90 minutes to reel in the “Silver King”!

Fishing for Tarpon

Whether your drift fishing, casting, or trolling for Tarpon, we recommend using live bait. Shrimp is a great option, as is small baitfish such as mullet, pinfish, or pilchards.

Whatever your technique, when you hook a Tarpon, stay on top of the line so as to not lose control. They are strong, stubborn fish that are difficult to reel in, but worth the adrenaline rush every time.

Tarpon Fishing Charters

We recommend starting your Tarpon fishing charter early in the day, as Tarpon tend to be harder to find as the sun rises, or the wind picks up. (And yet, on a really sunny day sometimes the sun will reflect off a Tarpon’s scales and you can get lucky… but that’s a rare find).

When you hire a Tarpon Fishing Guide, be sure to tell them which technique you’d like to improve (or learn); the FishAnywhere Captains and Guides love their job and share their passion for fishing willingly. Smaller groups are usually best for Tarpon fishing trips (about 2-3 people), but some Tarpon fishing charters can take up to 6 passengers. Start your search on FishAnywhere.com with what city you’re fishing in, and we’ll take it from there.

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