Tarpon Season in Full Swing

by Capt. Rick Stanczyk

Tarpon Season in Full Swing

Here we are into the spring and summer months and tarpon season is in full swing in Islamorada.

As most fishing guides know, this time of year can be very taxing, with working day and night plus dealing with all the traffic, boats on the water, etc., so it’s nice to be taking it a little easier. Fishing has been a little up and down, though, as we’re still having some temperature and wind swings. Though, on the days when it’s been right, I’ve had some pretty stellar fishing.

Jake and John Hess were with me on one such day. The wind had slicked out and we had nice falling tide all day long. We got on to the tarpon and they were biting almost as fast as you could get a bait in the water for several hours. Unfortunately, those guys will be a little spoiled next time they go tarpon fishing, but they did realize how special of a day it was, which was nice. Lots of fish had shown up deep in the backcountry and had been responding well to all kinds of baits. Pinfish, mullet, pilchards, and even artificial jerk baits had all yielded some action from the silver king.

On the days when it’s been blowing hard though, it hasn’t been as good back there and we’ve been sticking closer around the local bridges and channels. Recently, I had Aaron and his dad, Keith, down for a visit and we had very good fishing. It was a slow start, but around 9:30, when the tide started falling, the tarpon got very active. We kept moving around and got the fish turned on to our live mullets. It was tough to keep the tarpon on the hook, but we eventually caught one and it was a thrill for Keith. Half of the fun of live bait tarpon fishing is just watching the bites and, as most people know, when you catch one on a live mullet you’ve done good! I don’t normally talk numbers, but we probably put another 8 or so in the air—it was very exciting fishing!

Yesterday, the boys were with me and we tried fishing out back, but it was one of those days when the wind was cranking out of the south and it got very muddy. We jumped off a couple tarpon early in the morning, then didn’t have much action fishing for them in the backcountry, but we did catch a nice lemon shark. We ended up bailing and caught a bunch of trout, and about 8 or so nice big mangrove snappers on our cut bait. If you work around the islands and channel cuts right now, you can find some real nice mangrove snappers. Getting the big ones to bite is lots of fun and, honestly, almost as exciting as catching a nice snook or redfish.

Overall, Aaron and Keith appreciated the hard work and had a wonderful time down here. Not quite sure what I’ll be doing over the weekend, but hopefully, we’ll be able to find something fun! Once it warms back up though, the tarpon are definitely in town, so I’m sure it’ll get back to normal pretty soon.




Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Capt. Rick Stanczyk

Author

I fish a 1977 20’ SeaCraft open fisherman offering backcountry, gulf, and shallow reef trips catching everything from tarpon, permit, redfish, snook, sharks, cobia, goliath grouper, mackerel, snapper, and more. You can find me at Bud ‘n Mary’s (www.budnmarys.com) if I’m not out fishing, or call me at 305-747-6903 or email me at rick@seethefloridakeys.net



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