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Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon Fishing with Jason Ramsey

Tarpon are incredible fish no doubt and even lend their name to the anglers that pursue them... Ever heard of a "Tarpon Addict"?  Well, come on by and I will happily introduce you to a few. Seriously, if you'd rather fish for relaxation, there are a lot of other options. But if you are more inclined to fish for adrenalin, then Tarpon are for you!! And who can blame you, 6 foot long fish doing cartwheels 10 feet in the air will get anyone's adrenal glands pumping, and what's more addictive than that ?!?

When to Fish for Tarpon

March through July is the prime of out Tarpon season here in the Tampa Bay area, but opportunities at trophy fish take place in early fall as well. In early spring and again in the fall, our Tarpon "season" takes place as the water temps in the bay get into the upper 60's and even low 70's and we blind cast to these giant fish as they congregate around structure right inside Tampa Bay itself. It's absolutely amazing how tightly they will gather around any significant structure where they can lay up in slower current, and still have the tide to pull fresh baits past them on a continual basis. It's kind of like fishing for rainbow trout in the lee side of boulders in a stream, except of course for the fact that the fish will normally be a lot closer to 120 pounds than they are to 20 pounds! April will find us doing more of the same, but the structure we find the fish on will start to get closer and closer to the mouth of Tampa Bay. The one constant in all of this early season action, is the bait as millions of slab sized Threadfin Herring will be all around us and will keep the fish busy inhaling all that they can, in order to prepare for their journey to and from Boca Grande's spawning congregation. By the time that May and June arrive we will enjoy a productive fishery inside the bay, as well as an incredible opportunity to sight cast to GIANT pods of fish on white sand flats just off our area beaches. Honestly, we don't really catch more fish in May and June than we do earlier in the year, but the adrenalin rush associated with sight casting to the GIANT fish as they swim in lazy circles is unbelievable!!! By July the biggest of the season's pods have probably already passed us by, but the good news is that as the fish swim northward on their return from Boca's breeding grounds, they are usually at their hungriest after having had their minds on other things for a week or two. The late bite can be a hot one as we approach the fall of the year, as the fish in our area once again relate to structure in the bay, and feed heavily in preparation for the leaner winter months.

Tarpon Dance

 

How to Fish for Tarpon

Live bait and 20-30 pound spinning gear represent the majority of the fish that we hook and catch, but if you are up for the ultimate in one to one ratio battles, feel free to bring your favorite 12 wt. fly rod along with you. The bottom line on equipment is that rods have to be strong, but light enough that making long casts over the length of a long day are possible. Rods with lots of backbone and yet light enough tips to make those cast are a prerequisite, while reels with the beefiest of drags are going to be required as well. You and the fish will apply a little more pressure than you'd imagine during a Tarpon battle, but as long as you don't mind some sore muscles most of them will be alongside my boat for photos in a half hour or less. Please be patient though, as an hour to two can go by if you happen to hook one in the 150 pound plus range. Hope you won't mind... As far as what we'll throw at them, I am a big believer in matching the hatch so to speak, so as long as I find trophy fish swimming in and around millions of lively white bait fish, chances are that's what you will find on the end of my lines! From Sarasota south, pass crabs seem to work well on big fish too, but again, I'd prefer throwing what they are swimming in and around, while they are here off Manatee and Pinellas county.

So, the prime time for sight casting to giant pods of fish is only a few months long here in the Tampa Bay area, but you can still target them all the way into October and even November if you choose. Then again, you may have one blow up a Snook sized bait at almost any time of year if you're lucky! Well I'm not sure if hooking one on a 10 pound Snook rod is really "lucky"' but it's a thrilling bonus if it does happen. Anyway, if hooking up with multiple Tarpon or seeing pods of fish numbering in the hundreds is something that you have yet to experience, or best bet to do so, will be in the Spring for sure. Call me soon so we can set up a date for you during that magic time between March and July!

 

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