All About Tarpon Fishing You Need To Know
The Megalops Atlanticus is the species of Tarpon we find here in the Florida Keys. They are commonly found up to 8 feet long with weights over 200 lbs. The Tarpon can live in fresh and saltwater but most of the larger fish migrate out of the fresh water within the first few years of their life. The fish we target during our annual Spring Tarpon Season average 80-120 lbs. and migrate through the Florida Keys to spawn. This spawn usually takes place at the end of May or at the beginning of June depending on the moon phases. This does effect the bite but because there are so many we usually can still get them to eat.
Currently Florida holds 29 world records for Tarpon with the larges being 243 lbs. This fish was actually caught in the Florida Keys back in 1975. Anglers wishing to catch a Tarpon can do so by using either light tackle spinning equipment or by using fly fishing gear. We can provide either kind of tackle desired but for fly fishing anglers it’s very common for them to bring their own rods because they must be familiar with the action of the rod to successfully cast the fly where it needs to be. Live bait usually consists of crabs, pinfish, mullet, shrimp, or pilchards. That is all dependent upon what we are able to get and what the fish have been eating recently. For our Bahia Honda Tarpon Trips Crabs are used 90% of the time. Flies are all custom tied and somewhat secret.
Even though we target Tarpon inshore on the flats and under the bridges they actually spawn offshore. This crazy phenomenon happens when a little red worm known as the Palolo Worm hatches out of the inshore corals usually right before sunset in the middle and lower Florida Keys. Once these worms hatch the Tarpon gulps these little guys right on the surface as they try to swim offshore. It usually only happens for a few nights during the Tarpon season but is considered a lifetime experience for anglers from all around. Usually we are fly fishing when we are expecting a worm hatch because fly anglers have the best shot of hooking a Tarpon during this phenomenon. We also prefer to not land the Tarpon during the worm hatch so we don’t stress the fish out so much it won’t be able to possibly reproduce.
The Tarpon fight can last well over an hour but we actually don’t like to fight fish longer than 20-30 minutes because it has a tendency to stress the fish out too much and decreases it’s chance of survival once released. This is why we use 30-50 lb. test line when live bait bridge fishing and 12 weight fly rods when flyfishing on the flats. Circle hooks are a smart choice to use when possible because they decrease the chance of foul hooking a Tarpon in sensitive areas of it’s body.