It’s about that time of year already. The tarpon have begun arriving, sharks are plentiful, snook are just about everywhere, mackerel and jacks are crushing bait schools. Fishing is getting good! Over the past couple weeks we’ve been doing a variety of fishing. Goliath grouper, inshore, tarpon, sharks, and nearshore have all been productive.
Inshore fishing has been productive with the schoolie snook. They seem to be about everywhere there’s moving water. Look around creek mouths and areas with heavily moving water. The big girls are out there too. Many of the outside bars are holding big snook and some redfish here and there. They’ve been hitting on whitebait and pinfish as well as artificial lures such as a jig head with a Mirrolure lil John or topwater baits. Our favorite lure of choice are Heddon’s spook plugs. Remember to match the bait size. If you see the snook chasing mullet, I wouldn’t recommend throwing the spook jr. Throw a larger lure that will mimic what they’re feeding on. The trout bite has been phenomenal this month. We’ve been fishing grass flats in about 4ft of water with a popper cork baited with white bait, shrimp, or a jig head/soft plastic combo.
The snapper and grouper bite offshore has been getting better. We’re seeing a lot of 20” mangrove snapper out on natural bottom. Keep an eye out for those pelagic species as well; king mackerel, cobia, bonito and tuna are around those bait schools. Always have a rod set aside and ready for pitching baits to these fish. There’s a ton of Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and jacks around the passes as well.
As the tarpon begin arriving and you head to the beaches to fish, keep these tips in mind. Where there’s tarpon, you are sure to find sharks. BIG sharks that take no pity on a hooked tarpon. Because of this, you want to make sure you are using strong enough tackle to land the fish in minimal amount of time. If it’s consistently taking you 2 hours to land the tarpon, your gear is probably too light. I like to use a Penn Spinfisher 6500 on an 8’ Penn Battalion rod. The struggling tarpon is like candy to those big bull and hammerhead sharks. When I see a shark chasing down our tarpon, I like to open the bail and let the tarpon run. This works best when you have a lot of open area. They are often able to run far enough away that the shark now has to track them again. After letting the tarpon run for a minute, gain your line back as quickly as possible and try to complete landing the fish. If taking pictures after landed, do it as quickly as possible as well to avoid a shark attacking your fish boatside.
Kelly and I do the majority of our tarpon fishing off the beaches. This allows us to find our own pod of tarpon to work. Getting on the water right before first light is key to capitalizing on that morning bite. As the sun rises, you can start looking for those flashes of silver. Position your boat upwind, upcurrent, or ahead of their direction of travel depending on the situation. Placing your bait upcurrent and ahead of their direction of travel allows the bait to be presented more naturally. Try to avoid tossing your line across the pod of fish. The three main rigs we use beach fishing are a freeline, freeline with a split shot, and bait under a cork.
So pack up your gear, load up the livewell, and head on out to your favorite fishing hole. Or if you don’t have a boat of your own, give us a call and we can get your out on the water. To keep up with the latest bite and hottest action, visit us on our Facebook, Instagram and website to stay in the know.
Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! Tight lines and ya’ll stay safe!