Spring Tarpon

by Capt. Mike Bartlett

Spring Tarpon

It's that time of year again when anglers from around the world converge onto the Florida Keys to chase tarpon around the flats with a fly rod in hopes of catching that fish of a lifetime.  Many fly anglers have been making the Keys a fishing vacation destination for decades and will dedicate the entire week just to fish for tarpon, no matter the weather.  We will see many new anglers as well and boy are they in for a surprise.

The entire experience of being on the water to fish for tarpon is well worth whatever it takes to get here and do it.  To see and feel the power and the spectacular display a tarpon will put on is priceless.  I get why so many anglers, new and veteran alike get hooked on tarpon fishing.  It only takes that first fish, no matter the size, leaving the water right after being hooked and you want more.

We are now at the height of the tarpon migration where a majority of the fish are cruising the oceanside flats and congregating in the deep harbors and passes throughout the Keys.  It's no mystery as to where these fish will be.  On a flat calm day you will see them roll from a good distance or just look for where all the boats are floating around. FishMonster Magazine-May/June 2016

Being a flats guide now for many a year now, I have found some areas where tarpon move through that is away from the crowd.  These are not some classified secret spots that I have to blindfold clients and swear them to secrecy or else, just a little out of the way.  I may not always see a lot of tarpon in these areas (some days I do), but there is litle to no boat traffic and no one hitting the fish before they get to me.  This results in more relaxed tarpon that are much more eager to eat a fly.

Unfortunately these out of the way places don't always work.  When they do it's great and when they don't, we'll its not so great.  Fortunately there are places where the tarpon move through everyday, it's their normal migratory route. So when Plan A & B doesn't pan out, Plan C is always there to save the day!!

One of the many theories as to why tarpon migrate to the Florida Keys is the palolo worm hatch.  Every spring around the new and full moons in May and June these little red 'worms' rise to the surface and migrate out to sea.  Its actually only a part of the worm that releases from the bottom, this is how the worm spawns.  It is a mostly predictable event as to when and where it will happen and tarpon of course always seem to know exactly when and where it will occur.  Every tarpon in the area will be where the worms are, cruising the surface sipping worms one by one.  It's an awesome event and if you happen to be here when it's happening you will be in for quite a show.

Enough for now, get those final preparations done, grease up your fly lines and get down here.  It's time to do battle with the mighty Silver King.




Capt. Mike Bartlett
Capt. Mike Bartlett

Author

Capt. Mike Bartlett runs shallow water sight fishing charters for tarpon, bonefish, permit, barracudas and sharks in Key West. Reach him at 305-797-2452 or on the web at www.keywestflats.net



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