Kayak Tarpon Fishing for the Majestic Silver King

Kayak tarpon fishing really is the ultimate! Tarpon really are the silver kings of our local coastal waters. Ranging from 50 to 150 pounds, there's not a faster runner, harder fighter, or a higher jumper in our waters. Boca Grande Pass is the tarpon fishing capital of the world, but the last place I'd want to be in a kayak. There's no other known place on this earth where tarpon gather in such large numbers to feed. Kayak tarpon fishing should only be attempted by master kayak anglers with years of experience.

The traditional method of tarpon fishing the pass is with 50 to 80 pound class reels on standup rods, with wire leaders and large break-away lead weights used to get live pass crabs down near the bottom of the two deep holes where most of the fish congregate in 70 feet below. When there's a strike, the captain drives the boat forward quickly, in an attempt to pull the fish away from the other boats competing for the small holes. If you get the idea that traditional tarpon fishing is crowded and hectic, you're right.

There's a much better way of tarpon fishing that's only come to the fore in the last decade. Our prime tarpon fishing season is from mid-May through mid-July. During that time tarpon are migrating south to north from the Florida Keys on around the gulf coast for the summer. On a typical summer morning the air is still, the gulf water is like glass, the sun is coming up behind the shoreline, and tarpon can be sightfished right along the beach in 15 to 25 feet of water. The technique is to run slowly along the shoreline on the gas motor with all eyes looking west. Tarpon usually travel in schools, or pods, which are easy to spot when they roll on top of the water. Yes, this is sightfishing. When a pod is spotted, the captain runs ahead of the school on the big motor, then lowers trolling motors to make final adjustments to position the boat on an intercept path with the oncoming tarpon. We kayak anglers would do exactly the same thing. If everything goes right, and the fish don't spook and change course, the baits are put out just in front of the approaching fish. The hits are usually immediate and violent. Tackle for this kind of fishing is either spin or revolving spool with 15 to 20 pound test line spliced to several feet of 80 to 100 test mono shock leader. Rods are usually 6.5 to 7 feet, and hooks are usually 4/0 to 7/0, and must be razor sharp. The bucket sized mouth of a tarpon is lined with rock hard bone, and it takes some doing to get penetration of the hook. The fish is often struck three or four times to try to insure a good hookup.

When the tarpon feels the sting of the hook, you had better be hanging on for dear life, because she's going to take off with all the authority of a top fuel dragster, and jump with all the splendor of a Polaris missle. This is not a suitable fish for the beginner or the inexperienced kayak angler, or the faint of heart. An experienced angler may be able to whip a 150 pound tarpon into submission with good tackle in 25 to 30 minutes, where an inexperienced angler may fight the same fish for hours on end, and ultimately lose the fish. The worse part is that the lost fish will probably die.

I generally try to discourage all but most experienced anglers who understand the risks and rigors of tarpon fishing from a kayak, and have prior experience at tarpon fishing from a kayak, and rather encourage them to hone their skills and have their fun on the many snook that are available during that time of year. Most people are much happier catching lots of fish than they are catching one or two. But, if you have you sights set on tarpon they can be fished with live bait, artificial lures, and flyrods. Live baiting with small crabs or pinfish is the easiest way to hookup, and flyfishing tarpon is the ultimate challenge to both captain and angler.

Click here now or call 1-239-628-3522 to book your tarpon fishng trip on "the BarHopp'R".

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Florida tarpon fishing fun begins here!

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