Three Tarpon Fishing Techniques

The tarpon is an amazing saltwater species that’s challenging and fun to catch. This huge fish will put your skills to the test so be ready for a real struggle when you get one hooked. They’re not going to be reeled in without fight. The average size tarpon weighs around 40 pounds but you can find many of them weighing up to 100 pounds. Occasionally, under the right conditions, they can grow even larger. They have silvery color sides, large scales and a large mouth. When you reel in one of these fish, you’re guaranteed a true challenge.
You’ll find tarpons all along the Atlantic Ocean but they prefer water that averages around 70 degrees so they’re the most common in Key West and the Gulf of Mexico. This fascinating species will often put on an amazing show. They’re a unique species with a lung that allows them to breathe air so they tend to leap out of the water wildly from time to time. This is called “rolling” and it’s an exciting thing to witness due to their size but it also makes them easier to find.
They’ll also leap out of the water when hooked, which makes it difficult to hang onto them. They can get so high into the air that you have no idea where they’ll land. It could be in your boat, onto the bushes and trees when you’re near land or even into someone else’s boat if there are a lot of anglers in the area. This is exciting but it makes it harder to reel them in and it’s a good idea to keep your eyes on them at all times.
Techniques for Catching Tarpons
Fishing for tarpons can be frustrating especially when you see them jumping around in front of you and they still won’t take your bait. Then, when they do strike and you hook one, they often work themselves lose or fight so hard and long that the angler gives out first. It helps to use a technique that has been tired and proven effective when seeking out this species. It’ll give you a head start and making your fishing trip more productive.
Here are three tarpon fishing techniques that work great:
1. Fly-fishing- This is one of the best ways to fish for tarpons. It’s recommended that you use large merchants, Borski shrimp, deceivers and closures when fishing for this species.
2. Fish the Channels- Cast your line in the channels and use soft plastics, minnows or top water lures. Use weights to help you keep the bait on the bottom.
3. Trolling – This technique works very well for finding this species when they’re not near the shore.
When fishing for tarpons, you can use both live and artificial bait. Big top water lures, large minnows and soft plastics are some of the best artificial lures to use. When using live bait try mullet, crabs, oversized shrimp, pinfish and other smaller fish.
Fishing Tips for Catching More Tarpons
Tarpons travel in schools most of the time, which increases your chance of reeling one in. Don’t get discourage if you lose the first one you hook. This happens to most anglers due to the size and power of this fish. You can fish for this species all year long but there will be times when they’re more plentiful than usual. This will be different depending on exactly where you’re fishing along the Atlantic Coast. Find out when they are the most active and abundant in your area and you’ll have a better chance of reeling one in.
Did you know that you could often find this species in water that’s only between 3 to 8 feet deep? It may be hard to imagine a fish this size being in water 8 feet deep or less but they do have a tendency of staying near the shore. Normally, you would have to go deep-sea fishing to catch a species this size. This is the main reason why tarpons are one of the easiest large species to find in the Atlantic Ocean.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking this in any way makes catching them easy. They’re still a challenge to hook and reel in. The first time you seek out this species, it would be a good idea to hire a guide to take you fishing. They can teach you’re the basics, take you to all the hotspots, provide you with tips on which baits to use and more.
Fish with a spinning rod between six and seven feet long combined with light tackle and monofilament fishing line in the 10 to 14 pound range. Your hook size should range between 4/0 and 7/0 for the best results.
Tarpons are one of the most exciting species on the east coast. Fishing for this species is something that every serious angler should try at least once. It will surely be an experience you’ll always remember and a lot of fun.

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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