Sanibel Tarpon Fishing in Florida
Welcome! You found this page because are on two types of people. Those who are addicted
to Tarpon fishing and those that will be addicted to Tarpon fishing.
I started Tarpon Fishing around Sanibel Florida in 1987, and quickly began fishing tournaments
numerous top 10 finishes and just one afternoon bite away from winning. That didn’t deter me
and 33 years later Still at it. Trying to write about this is a little mind boggling so I will
try to keep it simple.
There a number of tried and true methods of fishing for them, most requiring ample quantities
beer. I’ve found that improves my odds considerably. There are many reasons for that
but patience is maybe the biggest.
Breaking it down, knowing someone with experience and joining a local fishing club and
even better a Tarpon Hunters Club is the way to dramatically shorten your learning curve.
In our area the Fort Myers Beach Tarpon Hunters Club is the oldest club established solely
for Tarpon Fishing. They hold an annual Spring Clinic in early March. Simply attending
this meeting alone is the combination of untold years of experience willing to be shared.
If there is a clinic or a club, seek it out if your just starting.
As with any fish there tends to be a peak season and the Silver Kings are in the highest
numbers from Spring through mid-summer. Naturally its all dependent on your location.
These times are for Southwest Florida. If you want to get a jump on the season, head on down
to the Florida Keys or Marco Island or Chokoloskee and the 10,000 islands.
Tarpon Fishing can range from you cant keep a bait away from them to “lock Jaw” despite
being surrounded by hundreds of fish rolling and seemingly thumbing their whip-like Dorsal
fins in your face. Hence the beer referenced earlier. Its a little easier to deal the
snubbing they can be famous for.
There 3 primary methods of fishing for Tarpon. Live Bait, Dead Bait and Fly Fishing.
I started out dead baiting as it was the way to catch multiple hookups and win tournaments.
Over time, that method is still popular but probably not the most any more. We used
125lb leader and would wear through them some times. 40 lb test on baitcasters were standard.
The old Penn 113H reel was probably the defacto standard. the Drags would heat up and be real
grabby and lead to jerky runs. This did not help with already difficult hooksets. The Shimano
TLD’s were a miracle with silky smooth lever Drags vs the Penns.
Dead Bait–Here is how it would go, we would load up on dead mullet and preferably “Shad” or Bunker. Atlantic
Menhaden is what they really are. The tarpon would eat them like candy, but so would the catfish and sharks crabs so
you had better bring a lot. We would try to get 3-4 Doz but more was better. That allowed for “chunkers”
and time honored practice of Chunking or small pieces cut up and doled out steadily. This was often the
job reserved for the least senior crew member.
Then wait. After what sometimes would before it hit the bottom and sometimes a 3-4 hour wait,
you would be rewarded with spectacular show and if you were lucky a double or triple. While
Dead baiting with up two 4 lines in the water with a rubber core up to 3/4 oz sinker to keep it on the bottom if necessary,
you could also freeline or cork float a live pin fish and or
a thread-fin herring or a silver dollar size blue crab, The top top live baits to find out what the fish preferred that day.
I always keep some jumbo shrimp too just in case. Often if they wont hit anything else that will do the trick.
Mostly done with Heavy Spinning tackle with 5500 to 6500 reels spooled with 50 lb braid and 50-60 lb line often on floats
makes it easier to make long casts to rolling or traveling fish.
Plastic swim baits on lead head jigs are extremely effective. Yozuri Plugs, Mirro-lures,
are the favorites. Known as “reaction” baits they can trigger a strike often times when nothing else will.
I have great luck on several flies over the year but the first one I ever go hit on was an old standard
the venerable Cockroach, Tarpon Toads, Black Death and Puglesi Black and Purple.
As I realized when I started, it is very difficult to cover the variables in a short article.
So get on out there and get yourself a tarpon. It never gets old. Fortunately there are by-catch of grouper
and or cobia from time to time. And the wandering triple tail that will take up residence under your boat.
If you prefer to book an experience guide give me a call.
Capt Paul Primeaux
Sanibel & Captiva, FL