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How To Catch Tarpon

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Tarpon is an inshore fish that will put up a spirited fight when hooked. They are migratory and move from the Caribbean to the southern United States in spring and then back further south in the latter part of the year. Do you want to learn how to catch tarpon? In this article, we will discuss the movements, behaviors, and fishing techniques to catch tarpon.

How To Catch Tarpon

How To Catch Tarpon From Shore

Tarpon is found on the beach searching for prey. When you fish for tarpon on the shore, look for them a few feet from the shore when the tide is high. Look for structures like deep holes, troughs, and pockets for tarpons. They will be around the mouths of those structures looking for baitfish. Cast out your line and when a fish is on, reel it in fast to maintain control of the fish.

How To Catch Tarpon In Canals

When fishing for tarpon in canals, cast close to the fish after it rolls. Let the jig sink to about one-third of the way down, then begin the retrieve. After hitting your target depth, quickly snap the rod tip two times. This will make the lure quickly dart upwards.

Then let the jig sink with a slack line. Sight-casting at rolling fish with a vertical jigging presentation works very well. A light tackle like a 7-foot medium 12 to 17-pound rod with a 3000 to 5000-size reel with a 20-pound braid and 40-pound fluorocarbon line will work.

Tricks For Tarpon Fishing

How To Catch Tarpon At Night

Tarpons can often be found in the inlets at night. They are less wary during the night and you can easily catch a trophy tarpon during the night. Tarpon waits for crabs, shrimp, and other baits to be washed off of the flats and sand bars with the outgoing tide.

You can use ladyfish, mullet, crabs, and large silver spoons to catch tarpons as they focus on these baits with the tide. For large tarpons, about 100 pounds or larger, an 8500 series reel and a 7 1/2 foot medium/heavy fast action rod with an 80-pound braid and a 100-pound leader will work.

How To Catch Tarpon In Tampa Bay

When fishing for tarpon off of Tanba Bay, anglers usually set up about 100 yards off the sand and watch out for tarpon that comes rolling on the surface. When spotted, anglers will move the boat within casting distance, thanks to a quiet trolling motor. Always throw the bait ahead of the Tarpon and slowly retrieve it toward the boat.

Don’t slow down if a Tarpon shows interest. And be prepared for the fight that will ensue. If the school passes by you, don’t cast on top of them out of desperation while they are moving away as this action will only spook them.

You can catch tarpon using live bait and lures. Live crabs, pinfish, mullet, ladyfish, and greenbacks are used when fishing for tarpon in Tamba Bay. Swimbaits and paddle tail lure work well when fishing for tarpon.

How To Catch Tarpon In The Keys

When fishing for Tarpon In Florida, look for a bend or deep holes. Then anchor the up-current and let your bait drift back to the bend or deep hole. Additionally, channels with outgoing water flow will be good areas to fish for Tarpon.

Crabs, mullet, pinfish, pilchards, and shrimp work well as bait when fishing for tarpon in the keys. Trolling, fly fishing, and, sight casting, are fishing methods used when fishing for tarpon.

Tarpon Tackle

For a large tarpon weighing 60 pounds or more on the beach, a 6500 series reel and a 7-foot medium/heavy fast action rod with a 50-pound braided line and a 60 to 100-pound leader will work for catching large tarpons off the beach.

Tips For Tarpon Fishing

Best Bait For Tarpon

1. Shrimp

Shrimp is a good bait for tarpon and many other fish.

2. Pinfish

Pinfish is one of the best baits for tarpon.

3. Mullets

Mullets work well as bait for catching tarpon.

4. Crabs

Crabs are good bait for not only tarpon but other fish as well.

5. Ladyfish

Ladyfish works well as bait for tarpon.

6. Pilchards

Pilchards are one of the best baits for tarpon.

7. Shad

Shad can be used as an effective bait for catching tarpon.

8. Greenbacks

Greenbacks work very well to attract tarpon.

9. Threadfins

Threadfins work well to attract tarpon.

Tarpon Fishing

Best Lure For Tarpon

1. Spoons

Spoons, especially silver spoons, are a good lure for attracting tarpon.

2. Jigs

Jig heads and paddles tails work well as lures to attract tarpon.

3. Swimbaits

Swimbaits work well as lures for young tarpon.

4. Twitch Bait

Twitch baits are a good lure for tarpon.

5. Plastic Eel

Plastic eels are an excellent lure to target tarpon as they can’t resist plastic eels.

6. Jerkbaits

Jerkbaits work well as lures for tarpon.

7. Poppers

Poopers work well as lures for tarpon.

8. Soft Plastics

Soft plastics, jerk baits, and swimbaits are good lures for attracting and catching tarpon, snook, kingfish, and tuna.

Tarpon Fishing Tricks

Tarpon Fishing Tips

1. One of the best ways to catch tarpon is with dead bait on the bottom.

2. Tarpons can be found on beaches, inlets, basins, creek mouths, deep holes, troughs, freshwater rivers, canals, spillways, and grass flats.

3. Have a lot of braided lines on the spool because tarpon can strip off 100 yards easily.

Tarpon Fishing Skills

4. Be on the lookout for pelicans and terns circling the beach or diving in near the shore. That is a sign that there are tarpons around and the birds are targeting them.

5. Always downsize your lures to match the hatch. If the birds that are diving into the waters are small white birds, then the baits are glass minnows or small pilchards. If the birds diving into the waters are larger birds like pelicans, then the bait could be mullets and you want to match the hatch also.

6. Tarpon likes to hunt in the inlets at night.

Tarpon Fishing Ideas

7. When all other baits are not delivering tarpons, use dead baits.

8. Tarpon has very good vision, yet anglers are more successful fishing for them in low light conditions like at night, dawn and dusk, and overcast days.

9. Tarpon is not a big fan of wind. They will quickly disappear when the wind starts making waves.

Tarpon Fishing For Beginners

10. Trolling can be used to fish for tarpon when fishing from a boat.

11. You can put your fly fishing skills to good use fishing for tarpon if you are up for the challenge. Fly fishing for tarpon requires skill, strength, and patience.

12. Drifting can be used to fish for tarpon especially when they are not in the inlets and passes and they go into deeper waters.

Ideas For Tarpon Fishing

13. During the tide, position yourself up-current and let your bait move to the fish.

14. Use sharp hooks. Tarpon has a bony mouth and you need very sharp hooks to go through the mouth and hook in.

15. Chumming can be used to fish for tarpon when you are on a boat.

16. Cast often and in front of a single tarpon.

Fishing Tarpon

17. When using shrimp, cast towards the fish and let the bait slowly sink in front of the tarpon.

18. Slowly retrieve spinning lures and plugs allowing them to sink. Then pull the rod tip and reel in the slack.

19. Artificial lures are most effective on flats.

20. If you are fishing with lures or jigs, make sure they are not weighted for them to hang below the hook when the line or leader is held vertically.

21. When you feel the bite on the line, take in the slack line and wait until you feel the weight, and strike hard two times. Additionally, wait a few seconds before setting the hook. This will ensure the bait is completely in the fish’s mouth.

Fishing Tarpon Tricks

22. If using hard lures, strike as soon as you feel the weight at the end of your line.

23. Tarpon will roll on its side when it gets tired of high jumps, somersaults, and gill-rattling.

24. Spring and Summer are the best times to fish for tarpon.

25. When fishing for tarpon, use live bait with a circle hook for the best chance of catching them.

26. When you get a tarpon hooked, it will start jumping and somersaulting in the air. You have to immediately drop the rod tip to make the line slack. This maneuver is called “bowing to the king”.

Fishing Tarpon Tips

27. Once it re-enters the water, raise the rod and reel the line tight.

28. Once the jumping has ceased, put as much pressure as possible and change the angles often. This disorients the fish and helps you get it in quickly.

29. If you let the tarpon rest during the fight, it will recharge and be up for a second fight. You want to avoid that and reel it in when it is exhausted.

30. Sight-casting at rolling fish with a vertical jigging presentation works very well when fishing tarpon in canals.

Fishing Tarpon Ideas
What is the best bait for tarpon?
The best baits for tarpon are shrimp, crabs, pinfish, and mullets.
How hard is it to catch a tarpon?
Tarpon is a challenging fish to catch with its size, largemouth, and bony mouth which makes it difficult to hook it. Additionally, with its antics when hooked. it can easily snap the line if you don’t allow slack immediately.
What rig do you use for tarpon?
The free-line rig is one of the best rigs for tarpon.
What does tarpon taste like?
Tarpon is edible; however, many people don’t eat them because it contains many bones.
How deep do you fish for tarpon?
Tarpons can be found in deep waters and you will have to fish in the range of 44 to 10 feet for tarpon.
Do you have to use circle hooks for tarpon?
You don’t have to use circle hooks, but it is recommended because tarpon is a bony fish.
What is the best time to fish for tarpon?
The best time to fish for tarpon is Spring and Summer.

The Bottom Line

Tarpon is an inshore fish that can often be found very close to the shore looking for shrimps, crabs, mullets, and other baitfish. They grow to be very large, over 7 feet and 300 pounds, and live in fresh and saltwater. It is a favorite game fish for anglers because of its size and antics when hooked.

If you are also interested in catching other fish like halibut, California corbina, and Jack crevalle, then read how to catch halibut, how to catch California corbina, and how to catch Jack crevalle. We hope you will pick up a few tips from those articles that will improve your fishing skills.

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