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Time For The Tarpon Tango

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On: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 12:51PM | By: Merry Beth Ryan

May has arrived and so have the Tarpon. This is the time of the year Tarpon hunters live for. Time to tango with a Tarpon. Tarpon season is in full swing. Anglers from all over the world come to Florida for some of the best Tarpon fishing in the world. Some anglers prefer to sight cast to pods of Tarpon on the beaches while others choose to fish the world-famous Boca Grande Pass for Tarpon. Tarpon can also be caught from other locations such as jetties, docks, passes, and rivers. Tarpon are one of the most sought after gamefish in the world. If you ever hook into one of these silver kings you will remember if for a lifetime. Tarpon put on quite an acrobatic display as they get some real air time when they explode out of the water once they are hooked up. Seeing this up close and personal gets your heart pounding as your rod bends over, so be ready to enjoy the ride of a lifetime A variety of baits are used when targeting Tarpon. The Tarpon crab, also known as a “pass crab,” is one of the baits of choice for many anglers and Captains. Squirrel fish are a popular bait in the Boca Grande Pass. Large threadfins as well as crabs are used as baits when aiming for Tarpon from the beaches. A certain bait may work better at certain times depending on such variables as tide flow, moon phase, location, and time of the day, as well as what the Tarpon seem to be feeding on that particular day.

Tarpon have an air bladder which allows them to absorb oxygen. You can see Tarpon on a regular basis come up to the surface and gulp air. When you see this happening for the first time your knees get weak and your adrenalin level rises. It is a magnificent sight. Tarpon have a mirror-like shine that comes off their diamond-plated bodies. Fishing for Tarpon can be a test of your patience as well as your discipline. There will be times you find Tarpon rolling all around the boat and you cannot get one of them to take your bait. At other times they seem to be in a feeding frenzy and will eat anything you toss in their direction. Usually the fish you see rolling will not be the fish that are feeding. You will need to cast your bait up ahead of the leader of the pod and let your bait sink below, where the bigger fish will not be able to resist such an inviting snack.

Be ready because the bite can be fast and furious. As soon as the fish explodes out of the water, bow the rod tip to release the tension in the line or your fish will be gone. As soon as your fish hits the water, come back up, reeling the line tight as you gain control. Many anglers forget to bow; it has happened to the best of us. It is hard not to get caught up in the airshow they put on. You would think a fish the size of a Tarpon would have a fierce strike but that is not always the case. At times a initial bite is very subtle and you will quickly feel dead weight as you set the hook. Tarpon have a very hard and abrasive mouth so you have to be sure that the hook penetrates their mouth with your hook set to help land the fish.

Fishing etiquette is a must when you are Tarpon fishing around a lot of other boats. There is no excuse for getting too close to other boats which are working schools of fish. Tarpon are easily spooked and constant boat traffic running over the top of pods of fish will quickly decrease your odds of catching one. If you are patient, you will be rewarded with a fish of a lifetime. Tarpon are one of my favorite fish to catch. Each and every Tarpon I catch gets me just as excited as when I caught my first Tarpon ever. If you have never caught a Tarpon I highly suggest adding this to your “bucket list” of things to accomplish in this lifetime. Being at the other end of the rod with a huge 100–150 pound Tarpon will be a memory of a lifetime, no question about it. It will leave you wanting to come back for more. Tarpon are very strong and will give you a workout, so be prepared to battle in one of the greatest tugs-of-war of all time. Once you catch Tarpon fever there is no getting rid of it.


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