Wheeeeeeeeeee…the tarpon bite has begun!! Like I’ve said before when you are looking to target these elite battle hardened veterans you’ve really got to have your stuff together, trying to skimp on your gear is a very poor choice. You need good quality gear to even think about fishing for tarpon. Now there are many different manufacturers to choose from when selecting a set up for tarpon. I won’t sit here and tell you that this reel and that reel is the best and those reels are garbage. What I will tell you is what I’ve personally tried and tested and what will work for you. My set up is Penn Spinfisher V 6500 and I’ve mounted that bullet proof reel to an 8’ Penn Battalion fast action rod with 20-40 pound line rated capacity. I also have spooled that spinfisher with 50 pound power pro. These are great starting points for you. Remember, when using braided lines, fluorocarbon is a must! I would suggest starting with 50 lb fluorocarbon and work up or down from there. Next, I’ll use a good quality 4x 6/0 circle hook and I’ll attach that with a loop knot.
Now for a bit of tarpon fishing etiquette, and this is something you really should heed. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to run up on fellow anglers with your outboard while they’re fishing a pod of tarpon. When making an approach on a pod of fish or other anglers working a pod you want to stop well outside of where they are fishing. Kill that 2 stroke and drop the trolling motor in and make your way over. Now you’re not ready to start sling that bait just yet. Try to get a feel for what the pecking order is by loitering just outside of casting distance. This is your opportunity to observe what’s going on and what direction the fish are traveling. Try to position your boat so the fish will come to you. This way you are waiting your turn and not running over someone else’s fish. By doing this you’re showing the other anglers a little courtesy by not just plowing in and pushing the fish away. After that you’re in the rotation and can work the fish as well.
On the inshore side, the snook and trout bite has been very reliable. We’ve been getting snook with a freelined whitebait and catching trout on a popping cork with live shrimp, whitebait, or soft plastics. We’ve been seeing more redfish in the past several weeks. They’ve been caught on live pinfish. We have had some pretty good action slinging hard and soft plastics in the past couple week. The morning topwater bite has been pretty good. Our favorite lures to throw are the Heddon spooks, but you’ve got to get the right motion or you’ll be wasting time. Walking the dog action involves a zig-zag constant movement of left, right, left, right hard enough to activate the rattles but soft enough to keep the bait in the water. It might take a bit of practice to get it just right but well worth it when it’s done properly.
If you can get out to some of the nearshore reefs and hard bottom, they’re covered up with some really great fish as well. If you stop at any of the published reefs, keep an eye out for permit. Bring a few small crabs with you and if you happen to spot them, toss out a freelined crab. There’s also a pile of Spanish mackerel out around the bait schools. Johnson silver minnows, jig heads with a soft plastic, or anything fast or shiny worked in a quick motion will attract these guys.
So happy fishing from us here at Florida Inshore Xtream charters and remember if you’re ready to get out and see how we do it you can call us, find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page www.FloridaInshoreXtream.com. Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on!