2019 Islamorada Tarpon Season is right around the corner!

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We’re half way through January and it’s been a fairly warm one for the most part.  Usually by early February I am starting to tarpon fish again somewhat regularly, given some warm weather, so it’s right around the corner!  We had some early cold weather in November/December, and I thought we would have a very chilly winter.  But it hasn’t gotten terribly cold and a lot of days it’s been up in the low 80s.  I’ve not been doing much tarpon fishing even though we have had OK conditions some days, as there has been so much other good fishing and clients haven’t asked for it much.  Water temperatures are still in the low range where even when you do find ’em, they aren’t always going to respond so well.  You can keep up with my other fishing reports on my other Fishing Islamorada blog.  For the numbers on 2018 we had a pretty epic year overall!  We landed 423 tarpon in 173 trips.  My best year ever with numbers and catch averages.  The best months last year were July and September!

Usually late March through early August is our typical tarpon season, with April through July often being the most consistent/peak of it.  Of course we usually always do get a slow spell in there for some period while fish are disappearing to spawn in combination with not great weather conditions, but you never really know when that’ll happen.  And you can catch tarpon here year round given the right conditions, that’s just a little less likely in the winter.  Right now April and May are fairly booked up as I’m fishing a more limited schedule this year (taking friday/saturday off during busy time, February thru July).  June and July are still relatively wide open and that does usually book up a little later.  But don’t be fooled it is my favorite time of year to fish for tarpon!  The backcountry everglades fishing gets very good for tarpon and conditions are favorable the majority of the time with the calm of summer.

Also I’m offering discounted trip rates for the 2019 off season (September through November).  I’ve normally not really offered discounts on my trips for a variety of reasons, however next year as mentioned I’m taking more days off in the busy season so I really would like to fill my off season in a little more.  If you are interested in coming down at that time you can get some good deals on fishing and room rates.  Once I start to fill in those days though I may no longer off these great rates, so start planning early if you can!  September and October can still be good months for tarpon, November is not as much but we have really good fishing for other species.  Check out my discounted trip rates here.

IMPORTANT: All anglers starting Jan 10th, 2019 will be required to have an Everglades Visitors Pass when fishing in the park.  You can obtain one via internet/phone at http://www.yourpassnow.com and select Everglades National Park.  Website is currently down due to govt. shutdown so don’t worry about it until that is over.  Most of my fishing is inside the park, so check with me but more than likely you will need one.  However if we are tarpon fishing locally around bridges it will not be necessary – though I am not doing this so much these days.  Just check with me beforehand.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
305-747-6903

Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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1/15/19 January Cold Front Tarpon in the Everglades!

Well today we had a cold front, didn’t get super cold but temperature is dropping more tonight.  We got lucky and found some tarpon in some of the canals while we were fishing for snook, redfish, black drum, and the like.  First fish of the day was a juvenile 10 lber on light tackle!  Lots of fun and managed to get him to the boat.  Keeping the little guys on there is always much harder than the big boys.  They just have less real estate in the mouth to hook ’em, and are very acrobatic and usually on our spinning rods we have a much tighter drag and such as we are fishing for other species sometimes like today.  But my dad was on the rod and knew right what to do, loosen the drag and go very easy on him and of course bow when he jumped!  Anyways first official caught tarpon of the season.  January is usually not very good fishing for them in our areas.  But usually by February sometime I do start catching them regularly and often some big fish too that are early arrivals.  It’s all condition related – if it’s calm and warm it can get good quick, but if its cold then I wouldn’t plan on it.  We have more cold weather coming this weekend, so if they are caught it’s going to be more of a lucky thing like today.  1 for 1

On a side note we did catch the largest snook I’ve ever had landed on my boat today, and quite possibly the largest for my dad ever too!  Read more about it on my fishing islamorada blog.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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12/3/18 + 12/4/18 December Tarpon Fishing Islamorada

Well I got out the last two days and we had pretty slick nice calm conditions.  While December is usually not a great month for tarpon, when it slicks out and warms up a lot they can show up in a hurry!  We saw a decent amount yesterday on the 3rd, and today a bunch more!  Yesterday they did not bite for us really… we only gave it about 30 minutes in the morning and we saw a handful, then we did see a few more later in the day but again no love.  We did jump a small tarpon while catching some redfish and snook on our jerkbait however!  Though we had good action with multiple other species including redfish, snook, tripletail, sharks, and goliath grouper!  Today though we got into a big pack of tarpon first thing in the morning…  Just rolling and blooping everywhere, the type of thing that really gets your adrenaline going if you are a fishermen!  Unfortunately we had no tide so we had to wait a little bit for the tide to change.  Once it started moving, the fish kind of spread out a bit though.  With the water temperature chilly, they were not really as responsive as I’d like.  We moved several times, and caught some sharks.  After close to two hours, we were about to call it quits when suddenly my angler Rickys rod went off screaming!   A huge 150 lb tarpon came airborne and we were hooked up!  A few good jumps and some hard runs, and we got the fish boatside within 15 minutes or so.  However it was a battler and would not give up for us to get a good picture.  We spent about 20 minutes or so trying to get her to lay sideways… every time though she’d kick off and I thought we were going to lose her.  Finally though she laid up and we got a few decent pictures.  Unfortunately though one good kick of her tail and she busted off as Ricky had the leader wrapped around his hands for the picture taking.  It’s always hard to get good photos of big fish because of this, you leave yourself vulnerable while setting up for the shot and it only takes a kick of the tail for them to free themselves.  Anyways we got a decent shot or two.  That was all she wrote, we caught some redfish, trout, and a goliath grouper to end the day!  0 for 1 1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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11/30/18 Cold front tarpon fishing in Islamorada

Well we had a good hard cold front the last couple days.  Today was the warming trend… the water was still cold but the wind swung east throughout the day and lost the bite of cold.  We had a banner day catching nice snook and redfish, but in the late morning it calmed down and really warmed up.  A few tarpon started to roll and we started pitching shrimp to them.  We caught 3 of them, two little guys in the 15 lb range, and one probably around 20 lbs to top off the day!  The last one we caught while fighting two redfish as well which made for a nice triple header!  It’s very hit or miss with tarpon right now, but throughout the winter you can catch small guys like these on shrimp occasionally.  I usually don’t book charters specifically for that, but rather when we are fishing spots for snook or redfish and they are around, you can work your bait differently and sometimes entice a strike.  If it gets warm and calm though, the big boys can show up and it can be game on.  But the winter time fishing so far for snook, drum, and redfish has been very stellar.  Check out my other website www.fishingislamorada.com for those daily reports.  3 for 3

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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11/23/18 November Tarpon Fishing Charter in the Florida Keys

Got out with Nolan, Shane, and Olivia today for a full day trip.  Nolan runs some charters up in the NC area and works as a sales rep for a rod company up there.  He wanted to try one of his rods for tarpon.  I told him tarpon fishing can be very hit and miss this time of year, but we had decent conditions to try it.  I was able to sneak out yesterday morning for an hour to catch bait too, so I got us some mullet and pilchards.  I definitely wanted to have some ammo and give it a 110% shot which we did!  We left early and headed into the backcountry.  We found a lot of tarpon busting off the shorelines, eating various glass minnows and finger mullets.  We could not get them to hit our baits too.  Not sure if it was the full moon last night, or cooler water temperatures.  They were active, but just not for the hook baits.  We fished the last hour of falling tide, and then tried again when it started in, but no love.  We bailed on that and then had to spend a good bit of time getting on a bite of snook and redfish.  But we did manage too and had very good fishing in one spot for reds and a good solid handful of snook.  We gave it some extra time at the end of the day as it slicked out nice and checked a few other channels for tarpon.  Didn’t see much but we did come across a few rolling in one channel at the very end.  We gave it another 20 minutes, but did not get a response out of them either.  Anyways there are still some around, but as stated it can be very hit and miss this time of year.  The cooler water temperatures some times make them not feed as actively, and when you are in the thick of a bait run some times those fish just don’t want to hit a hook bait when there are so many other options.  But thankfully right now the snooks and reds are thick and provide a good alternative.  If anyone wants to get out fishing though let me know, plenty of open days in December and the other backcountry fishing should remain solid.  0 for 0

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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11/21/18 November Tarpon Fishing Trip in Islamorada

Well yesterday we had some slick calm weather, and today the wind kicked up in the morning but got slick calm later in the day.  Tarpon showed up in some spots!  We weren’t really fishing for them but did see a good number while we were hitting some snook in the creeks.  We ended up catching one in here on a jig and pilchard!  Snook fishing was really good too.  Later in the day we found some tarpon up in the skinny water in an area where we were catching some snook and redfish.  I got the rods rigged for tarpon.  We floated some shrimp back to them and they were happy!  We ended up catching a couple more, and jumped off two others.  Yes even in November we still can catch tarpon here in Islamorada, and when it gets slick calm like this, it can be just as good as the best times of year.  I think Friday I have some customers looking to catch some tarpon, so hopefully they’ll stick around.  Otherwise I have plenty of openings in early December, if it stays fairly warm like this it can be worth a shot.  But the snook and redfish fishing has been stellar so it’s hard to pass that up.  Regardless, if you want to go fishing give me a shout!  3 for 5

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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