Tarpon Fishing In Florida

1/ What is tarpon fish?

Tarpon is a majestic creature, highly sought after for its strength, stubbornness a spectacular acrobatic moves, which are often comprised of up to 10 leaps and violent body shakes aimed at release from your hook.

They are also called Silver Sides, Sabalo, and the most  known- well name as the “Silver King”

Tarpon like warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters, 

2/ Why is tarpon popular in Florida?

The tarpon population of the Sunshine State is impressive not just because of the number of fish, but also because of the sizes they reach. Tarpon’s preferred water temperature is in the 74 – 88 *F range. This is why they are so numerous in Florida, the mild weather serves them perfectly.

Oceans and Gulf tidal currents, the reefs, channels, canals, bridges and flats host a food chain from invertebrates to shellfish to baitfish, deep cuts with a lot of moving water excite tarpon populations off Miami and around Biscayne Bay, deep natural passes... all belong to Florida. All make a home for tarpon.. Florida's waters are full of advantages for tarpons to grow and reproduce.

3/ Top tarpon Fishing Spots in Florida

Tarpon is one of the top sport fish in the world. The only way to properly fight a Tarpon is to battle them till they get exhausted. You will notice a considerable difference in the run and pulling. Battling the Silver King on the fly is a life-altering experience that requires patience, strength, and skill.Florida is a Tarpon treasure trove, and there are many hotspots for you to choose from. Let’s talk about the destinations anglers can't miss.

+ The Keys form a separation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, including the shallow estuary of Florida Bay. Nourished by ocean and Gulf tidal currents, the reefs, channels, canals, bridges and flats host a food chain from invertebrates to shellfish to baitfish. This abundance makes a perfect home for tarpon.  So large schools of tarpon follow migrating mullet swimming up and down both Florida’s coasts and in around the Keys. 

- Upper Keys: There is a large population of Tarpon around the Channel Bridges, Tom’s Harbor, Seven Mile Bridge and Long key. Also, you can look for them on the flats. Jack Bank and Buchanan Bank are good places as well.

- Lower Keys: The waters surrounding the Bahia Honda Bridge are full of fish. In Key West Harbor, have Tarpon in great numbers if you can get to them.

+ Boca Grande:  It is called “ Tarpon capital of the World”. From early April through July, schools of Tarpon numbering in the hundreds migrate through the pass, fishing tournaments are popular here. The flats surrounding Homosassa Bay and the Crystal River are full of big Tarpon May through June.

+ The Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands: The Sandy Key and Rabbit Key Basins along with the canals at Lake Ingraham and river mouth of Lostman’s and Harney rivers are brimming with Tarpon.

+ Tampa: one of the best inshore fishing destinations in Florida, Tampa Bay hides excellent Tarpon in its waters. Egmont Channel is a hotspot there. It is an ultra – deep channel. An outgoing tide often flushes huge numbers of crabs from the bay through the channel and out into the Gulf, favorite food of tarpon.  You will find Silver King around the Bay’s mouth, as well as around Fort De Soto Park and John’s Pass.

4/ When is the best time of year to catch tarpon?

The spring and summer are the best time to go fishing Tarpon. Actually, you can see that fish in Florida waters year round. Depending on the area you want to go.

In the Upper and Middle Keys, Tarpon are always present, you should go from mid of March to mid of July for the best season there.

If you like the Lower Keys the most, May through late July are the best months to do your fishing trip. 

Key West Harbor is a hotspot of Tarpon from January to March.

Around the Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands, the peak season lasts from March to July and most fish are found during the receding tide.


Some tips to win a tarpon?

Anglers frequently measure how good a fishing day it has been by counting how many Tarpon jumped instead of just landed.

First, you need to choose a suitable bait. With natural bait, you will get the best result during the ebb tide. You can use natural bait such as shrimp, fish like pilchards, mullet and pinfish work great as live bait. Artificial lures are best used on flats.

A very important rule of thumb you should remember is “bow to the King” when the tarpon jumps, quickly lower the tip of your rod and push it ahead to give slack – this will help keep your line from being severed by the tarpon’s gills.After a fight, the fish often needs reviving. Hold it upright in the water, moving it back and forth to enhance water circulation through its gills.One more rule ,if he's a big one, never take the King fully out of the water or it might die.

Do you know that Tarpon are caught and released only in the state of Florida. So fishermen remove or flatten the hook barb to make the release less traumatic. You can keep the fish in only case you are pursuing an IGFA world record and have purchased a Tarpon tag. The cost is about $50 and it is limited to one tag per year, only one person.

Florida tops all states in presenting year – round opportunities for catching tarpon