Some anglers spend their whole life trying to land a tarpon off the Florida coast. These incredibly powerful game fish are as elusive as they are challenging. For these reasons, tarpon fishing can be overwhelming for anglers new to the pursuit. Here are a few fishing tips for tarpon that will set you up for success.
5 Fishing Tips for Tarpon in Florida
Although tarpon can be found all around the southeast coast, Florida offers some of the best tarpon fishing in the entire world. However, catching a tarpon on your own with limited experience can be extremely difficult. The best way to learn how to catch tarpon is to hire a Florida fishing charter experienced in fishing for tarpon. Combine a good guide with these 5 fishing tips for tarpon and you will be well on your way to an amazing Florida silver king adventure.
- Prime Tarpon Season – Tarpon arrive off the southeastern coast around March and stay in the area until early fall. They are a migratory fish and prefer to inhabit warm waters in the upper 70-degrees F. Because of this, be flexible when planning your fishing trip. Be prepared to travel when your tarpon fishing guide gives you the call that the fish are there.
- Choose the Right Fishing Rod – Tarpon are caught on all types of fishing rods from fly fishing setups to baitcasting combos. A tarpon fishing setup using a spinning rod, however, is the most common and easiest way to fish when tarpon are in open water. You want a stout spinning rod setup. Rods with a medium to medium-heavy action in the 7-foot range, combined with a heavy reel spooled with at least 30-pound test monofilament or braided line with a leader are standard for tarpon fishing.
- Casting to Tarpon is an Art – Casting tarpon lures or bait too early or late can ruin a morning of seeking out a school of these fish. Casting too early to a school with live bait means it gets eaten by other fish while casting too late on top of them makes the bait or lure look unnatural. The key is to keep whatever tarpon bait or lure you are using look as natural as possible.
- Understand How to Set the Hook – Many first-time tarpon anglers set the hook way too soon on a tarpon bite. Probably the number one fishing tip for tarpon is to set the hook correctly. With live bait, take up slack line after you feel a bite. Feel for weight on the line then set the hook at least two good times. With artificial baits, your line will get tight and heavy and the hook can be set at that moment. If your choice is fly fishing, let the tarpon take the fly by waiting to set the hook well after you see it eating the fly. No matter the fishing technique, the key is to feel the weight of the fish before setting the hook on a tarpon.
- Land a Tarpon Like a Pro – Fighting a tarpon is the main reason anglers target the species. Expect acrobatic jumps and leaps for the duration of the fight. Do not try to horse in a hooked tarpon and keep your hand on your reel to provide additional drag during the flight. Most tarpon are released and by law in Florida larger tarpon must always be kept in the water. A small lip gaff helps to hold the fish in the water and the use of barbless hooks is recommended for easy release. Also, the recovery of a tarpon to be released is often longer than the fight itself. Take time reviving the fish before releasing it so it can fight another day.
Overall, timing is everything with tarpon fishing. From finding them to casting to getting hooked up – all your timing has to be perfect. These fishing tips for tarpon will make your trip to Florida more productive and have you ready to land one of the most impressive saltwater trophies in the southeast.