Tarpon Season Begins

by Capt. Mike Bartlett

Tarpon Season Begins

It’s that time of year we have all been longing for for several months now--tarpon season. There have been signs of the presence of tarpon throughout February and March, especially on the Instagram and Facebook. It’s been a pretty mild winter and we have had some incredible stretches of weather, making for some spectacular fishing on the flats. Now that the weather and water temperatures are stable, tarpon will be moving through our area on a consistent basis. 

I love this part of tarpon season. Most of the fish are in the backcountry cruising through the channels and basins. There are also a lot of fish right here close to home, so a short early morning commute is all it takes to get the day started right. 

Tarpon now also seem to be a lot more ‘grabby’, if you will. They are definitely more willing to eat a fly or lure now than when they are cruising the oceanside flats later in spring looking for some lovin’. The areas we can find tarpon now are also a lot easier to fish when it is windy, as opposed to those sporty days on the ocean side when the wind is honking from the east and southeast. Nothing more enjoyable than idling around fighting a tarpon in from a flats skiff in three-foot seas as the ocean pours over the bow with every other wave. Better have a good working bilge pump!! 

Fishing for tarpon at night now is a blast, for many of the same reasons as above. Those nights during the full moon when it is clear and calm are just awesome. You can hear and see tarpon roll near the boat and it can get loud when they are popping shrimp from the water’s surface. It also gets dark early enough that we don’t have to be out until midnight. 

Tarpon can be found early in the morning, at night and all throughout the day now. Weather conditions, tides and what we feel like doing, will play a big part in when and where we fish. Sometimes it will be better in the morning, other times better in the evening and, if you’re really lucky, it can be good all day long. Being on the water every day figuring out the trends is important and vital to how successful we are each day. 

Early spring, though mostly, isn’t just about tarpon--it’s a great time for permit and bonefish as well. This is a great opportunity to get a flats Grand Slam. After a morning of jumping and battling tarpon, when the tide and light is just right and the arms are practically numb, it’s time to chase permit and bonefish around the flats. We will only have a few weeks before permit head offshore to spawn and we are in full blown tarpon mode, so best to take advantage of the opportunity. 

Tarpon season is here!! It’s time to blow the dust off the tarpon rods, grease up the fly lines, re-spool the spinning reels, tie up your favorite files and replace those rusty hooks from last year. The Silver King awaits. 




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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