You can’t eat them and you need a special permit to keep for them, but for many coastal anglers tarpon are the only fish worth chasing after and tarpon season is the only one that matters. Tarpon are one of the ultimate game fish, especially in the Tampa Bay area. That’s because their huge size and the unstoppable, tenacious fight they put up when they’re hooked makes catching one an event you’ll remember. They’re also one of the only big game fish that can be caught when inshore fishing Florida without venturing out into deep waters.
Tarpon in Tampa Bay can be found from mid-April through the last part of October when the water temperatures drop below 75 degrees. Although they range from 60 to 200 pounds and can get as long as 8 feet, sometimes they can be caught from a residential dock or a pier because they readily take to shallow waters. With Capt. John’s fishing charters you’ll have the choice of drifting, anchoring up, or switching from one technique to the other to try and catch these beasts.
Catching a tarpon in Clearwater or Tampa Bay can be a waiting game, the but the payoff is well worth the wait. When your charter your tarpon fishing adventure with Capt. John you’ll fish the North Pinellas County area using only live grunts under a cork. When one of these so-called Silver Kings hits your hook the first few minutes will be pure joy as the monster goes crazy realizing it’s been hooked. If the hook holds (tarpon have hard, bony mouths that make it difficult to get a good hook set), then the battle begins.
It can sometimes take an hour or more to land a Silver King. They thrash and jump unbelievably, putting on one of the best aerial acts in the world of fishing, and it takes patience and skill to finally pull one in – especially since the one you hook could weigh more than you! You’ll have to be careful and watch for other boats, especially if you’re drifting while fighting the fish. And other boats with tarpon on the line (or sharks for that matter) can cause tangles that could end the fight in the fish’s favor quickly.
One secret to winning and reeling in your catch is called Bowing to the King. The “King” refers to the Silver King of course, and the “Bowing” is a way to keep your line from being snapped or losing control during the tarpon’s fierce thrashing and jumping. You’ll want to keep pressure on the line while the fish is underwater fighting, but keep a close eye on the line to see when it’s getting ready to jump and thrash its head around. As soon as it jumps, you point the rod directly at the fish (preferably extending your arms outward if possible), then resume pressure once it’s back in the water.
Tarpon are thought to live for 50 years or more, so the one you catch and release this year will likely be back next year even bigger. Don’t miss out on this season. Contact Capt. John today to charter your trip!