It’s time! Prime time tarpon season is here! You have all been waiting for it, thinking about it, and anticipating it. Now is the time to live it! Morning, noon, and night, it’s all about the fight! The months of May and June are the heart of tarpon season here in the Florida Keys and everywhere from Key Largo to Key West, anglers are seeing and chasing silver on fly, spin, and artificial during the day and night. They say that nothing good happens past 2 a.m., but try saying that to a dedicated tarpon angler!
If you are a fly fisherman, then you are typically doing business during the daytime hours, sight fishing for tarpon with 10-12 wt. fly rods. Depending on the conditions and tide, I fish a big area, from deep in the backcountry to the Oceanside, and everything in between. For my fly clients, I encourage them to book full-day trips, giving them the best possible chance of hooking up with one, if not several, tarpon. Half-day trips limit me to a certain area that may, or may not, be the best possible area to be in. Storms, water clarity, and boat traffic are all things that can be unpredictable and can ruin an area while fishing, so it helps to have some wiggle room and extra time.
For spin or bait anglers, it’s a different story as half-day trips can be very productive morning, noon, or night. Tides are the biggest factor when picking when to fish on bait or artificial. Certain areas are only productive during a falling tide, others incoming; this is true during the day and at night. Last year I did several trips from 3-7 a.m. when the tides were right, anchored or drifting baits like mullet, crabs, or big shrimp, with great success. But, finding clients that want to fish at these times can be challenging, as most of you are here on vacation. Getting up at 2 a.m. seems more like work to some and a call to action for others.
Something I want to mention is that, legally, tarpon over 40 inches are never to be removed from the water for any reason. In fact, no tarpon should be taken out of the water regardless of size. If you do so, you will damage the fish or perhaps kill it. Even if it swims away after, it still may have had internal damage and will suffer, if not die. I, myself, am guilty of this practice, but after talking with several of my peers, have sworn to change and encourage others to do so as well. If you really want that perfect picture, I suggest getting out in the water and taking a picture of it then, while it is still in the water. Or, bring it alongside of your boat and take several pictures with it in the water before releasing it. If we all practice this, we will have more tarpon to catch in the future.
For those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!
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