2018 Fall Tarpon Fishing in the Florida Keys

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We are into September and I must report that today fishing was absolutely epic!  There were tons of tarpon around – more than I’ve seen since July when we had the best month I’ve ever had tarpon fishing here in Islamorada.  There were hundreds of fish all around us today for more or less the whole day on both tides.  I also happen to know that several other channel areas were loaded with tarpon as well.  We look to have similar conditions today for the next week or so and then maybe even more so after that.  I haven’t fished a whole lot this month as I was on vacation but earlier in the month we did have some decent tarpon fishing as well earlier this month, but now that we’ve got the calm weather it’s really turning on.

Fall usually gives us the last good blast of tarpon fishing we have before winter comes and we say goodbye to the tarpon until the spring again.  Every year it’s a little different as to where, when, and how long it lasts.  But the jist of it is we start to get some of the first northeasterly breezes just cooling things off a hair.  This starts pushing big schools of bait down the coast, and many of the tarpon that have been spending the summer up north work their way back down.  Some years it lasts for a month or more, some times you only see it a handful of days.  But right now I can say we’ve had a ton of tarpon around and it looks to be an early start to the ‘fall bait run’ tarpon fishing conditions.  There isn’t quite yet a whole ton of bait, but the tarpon are there and waiting.

We usually get this fishing best in October, however as I said it appears to be started a little early.  Who knows if it has anything to do with weather patterns, or maybe some of the bad fishing conditions they’ve had further north of us due to algae etc…  But I would say these next couple weeks look to be very good if the winds stay calm which they are forecast too.  Give me a shout if you are looking to get out.  I will shoot you straight as I don’t like to over promise and under deliver, and it’s off season so I don’t mind moving days around if necessary to give you the best possible shot at landing a silver king.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
305-747-6903

Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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9/13/18 September Fishing for tarpon in the Everglades

Great day fun fishing with my dad, Rich, and Mike. Business has slowed down and all of a sudden I have about the next two weeks open. Fishing has been ridiculously good with stellar conditions, so I couldn’t help myself and figured we’d go have some fun! We got into the tarpon good early on and started the day jumping off a couple smaller fish, then Mike got a nice 60 lber and while fighting that, Rich got about a 20 lber for a double header! Unfortunately the big one didn’t stick around for a picture when we got him on the leader. Most of those tarpon were small, which we are legally allowed to lift up for pictures (very carefully and quickly of course). The big ones we don’t do that with we leave them in the water for a quick boatside picture. After that we caught one more and then hooked something that was fighting a little different. I said good chance it’s a big snook and sure enough it was, close to a 20 lber! Just spectacular love seeing those big fish like that we don’t catch them like that every day. After that we moved around a little and found some hard bottom structure that I like. There were more tarpon here and we soon caught another one! After that we hooked up a double header, a smaller tarpon and something that was fighting a little strange. I told the crew that a few days ago there were some porker redfish out there, and sure enough up came a big 25 lb redfish! That trick didn’t work the rest of the day though trying to call them out, but it was very cool to see those big redfish and snook. We caught a couple more tarpon there and a few sharks and then left those fish alone after that. We ran around the mainland areas just checking out a few spots and seeing what things looked like. We found a few small redfish and snook and a black drum in one area, so we caught 3 backcountry SLAMS which was awesome! After that we decided to head on back and caught some bait on the way home. But what a day landing 6 tarpon, and a good handful of snook and redfish including two porkers of each species!  6 for 8

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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9/11/18 September Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Report

Another banner day today with Ralph and Greg down from NJ! I got in touch with the boys last night and they were on vacation visiting the Keys. Tarpon was a request so I told them we have had good fishing as of late, but the bait catching has been a little bit of a struggle. Though if they were willing to go early and put the time and effort into the bait it could pay off handsomely! We opted for that and headed out. Bait was tough of course but it was better than yesterday. We had to work very hard at it, making lots of mess and getting mud and weed all over the boat trying to net the bait. But after a few throws it started to get a little easier and we got a couple good tosses with some good numbers of bait fish. We headed out to the areas where we found tarpon yesterday and they were right where we left them! First two baits out we missed a double header, then the next two baits out we hooked a double header and landed both fish! Nice start the boys each landed a tarpon within the first 20 minutes or the trip! After that we jumped off several more tarpon, got a big blacktip shark, then Ralph landed another tarpon. We moved around a bit and jumped off a few more tarpon. They just aren’t staying on the hook very well right now and not super aggressive bites, rather ones where they jump and spit it as soon as they feel anything so you have to hope to get lucky that the hook sticks them before they do that. Anyways after a move Greg hooked into a nicer size fish and landed a good 60 lb tarpon! After that the tide stared to slow down and I knew the boys had requested to try and catch some dinner. So we left the tarpon alone and caught a bunch of trout though most were fairly small. We did make one more stop and got a nice mangrove snapper on our artificials for a little appetizer for the guys at least, then it was time to head on home. Tarpon fishing is still very good and the winds are suppose to slick off tomorrow for the foreseeable future. The fall condition feels like it’s here and lots of tarpon are around. I had a cancellation Thursday due to the hurricane hitting the Carolinas, so I’m available. Right now I even have a load of bait fish ready to go and as I said the baits not easy right now – so you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than that for a tarpon fishing trip. Give me a ring let’s go fishing!  4 for 14

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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9/10/18 September Fall Tarpon Fishing in the Florida Keys

What a day for Jeremy and Roy! They were visiting from Colorado, Jeremy had fished with me before a few years ago. They also had a couple buddies fishing with Capt. Bill Bassett. I talked to the guys last night as I had just got back from vacation to see what our game plan would be. They were very interested in tarpon which I said had been OK lately though we looked to have good conditions with the wind laying down. Bait has been a little tough as of late though so I knew that would be the hard part. We headed out early and gave it a good hard effort and were able to come up with enough bait to fish with. Not easy by any means but we had what we needed. After that we checked some areas, not much in the first stop so we kept moving. I was in touch with some other captains who had found a few tarpon but not a lot of action out of them yet. I was almost going to run there but I decided to look in another area where I found some fish last week. Boy did we get in them good there were a lot of fish around! We fished the last couple hours of falling tide and we landed 4 tarpon mostly in the 20 to 40 lb range and jumped off several others. They were tough to keep on the hook being smaller size, but great fun to catch! We also caught a few sharks. After the tide quit we moved around as a big shark dragged us for a ways. When we landed him, we were thick in a school of tarpon! They were just everywhere. We had to set our gear off the bow as we were current into the wind, but the tarpon didn’t care! We had another 8 or so tarpon bites and landed 4 more fish. It was just incredible! We also got a nice 30 lb bull redfish, unfortunately though we pulled the hook on him as I was leadering him into the landing net! We also got a big 200 lb lemon shark, and a few more blacktips as well. Our sister boat with Capt. Bill caught a handful of tarpon as well, and they got two lunker redfish too in the 15 to 30 lb range. Absolutely epic day for these guys they can’t wait to come back. Fishing should be very good this week we look to have similar conditions through the weekend – nice light wind under 5 mph. Bait will be the tough thing however we are getting better tides for our bait in the early morning window, so that may change tomorrow. I am booked tomorrow but just had a cancellation Thursday due to the hurricane about to hit the Carolinas. I never like to promise good fishing because things can change so quickly, but if you want to see what the epic fall tarpon bite is all about this is your week to come and I have plenty of openings after tomorrow through the weekend. This isn’t something we see every day and rarely do I have open days this short notice but being off season there aren’t many people down here so now is your chance! Give me a shout.  8 for 16

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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9/6/18 September Tarpon Fishing Trip Full Day Florida Keys

Got out with Vinny and his daughter Jess for a full day today of september tarpon fishing.  I brought some shrimp and chum just in case as I heard bait was tough the day before so good to have a plan B option if things dont work out.  Unfortunately when tarpon fishing sometimes the bait doesnt cooperate which makes it hard to catch them without the right kind or right amount.  Anyways we checked one area and didnt see much for bait, the hard east wind had it pretty mucked up.  We did find some out in one of the channels but for the most part it was up pretty shallow.  We had to work hard at it and I threw the net 10 times or so but we manged to pick away and get 30 baits – about half what I normally like to have but enough to get a few shots at fish I figured.  We saw some tarpon busting nearby so we gave it a shot there first.  First of the incoming tide and it was pouring in.  We set up and no love, saw a few tarpon roll and moved around a couple times but no response from them.  After an hour or so we had gone through a good bit of bait and I was frustrated we didn’t get a response out of the tarpon.  We packed up and ran off where we had found fish the last day I was out.  Someone was sitting in a spot I wanted to be which is very unusual this time of year, we usually don’t see many other boats at all especially during the week.  Anyways we made do and checked another area nearby and did see some tarpon right away.  I was excited and we set up but the sharks got us in the first stop.  We moved around and then had two quick tarpon bites but neither stayed on the hook!  Unfortunate but part of fishing, though we had a couple shots at least.  We had a third tarpon jump straight behind the boat that may of also picked up a bait and spit it before we knew it.  After that things slowed down and we made one more move into an area I thought there were a few tarpon, but just some more sharks.  Unfortunately that was all the bait we had too so we had to mix it up the rest of the day.  We did catch about a half dozen small redfish in one area which was fun.  A bunch of catfish in the next stop, i had hoped there would be a few reds or snook there but no luck.  For the last hour we ran into the bay and hung the chum bag, and had good action with some nice trout, mangrove snapper, and a few ladyfish and mackerel.  Nice to be able to put the day together, would of been nicer to have caught those couple tarpon but they don’t always cooperate.

I’m out of town for a few days then back at it when I return next week.   I have 3 days booked next week but am available Wednesday, Friday, or all through the weekend and following week after that.  The winds look to be laying down tomorrow and we should have nice calm weather for next week which should be a good thing for the backcountry tarpon fishing.  If you are interested in going next Wednesday or Friday may be a good bet!  I’ll have more to report on Monday and Tuesday for sure.  0 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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9/2/18 September Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Report

Great day with Brandon, Rob, and William! The boys wanted to do some tarpon fishing and I told them we’d still been catching a few. I hadn’t been in a few days and the last day I went we got chased back in from the rain and lightning. But I had a good report from yesterday so I was excited to get out there and check things out. We already had some bait stashed away that was in good shape so we just went with that and headed out early. The last couple days the winds been blowing but it’s swung around more northeast, as opposed to southeast, which is giving us a little blast of refreshing cooler air and also feels a bit like Fall which is great! This can often trigger the ‘fall bait run’ effect where we get a lot of baitfish and bigger predator fish moving back down the coast as it is cooling off further north and they are coming back down for the winter. Every year is different and I don’t think it’s really in full effect yet, but definitely had that feeling. Anyways we found a decent group of tarpon that were flopping around, cart wheeling, doing the usual tarpon thing when that is going on. Not a whole ton of fish, but a good enough group that we were able to get in on them. We caught it right at the tide change but still managed to hook three tarpon and landed them all! A couple smaller guys in the 20-30 lb range, and one decent one that was about 60 lbs. After that a good storm blew in and it started to pour for about 30 minutes. We fished through it and actually landed our last tarpon in the midst of it. We caught a few more sharks and then the weather had passed. The tarpon seemed to have thinned out after that. We ran and tried another area closer to home and first bait out we got a big monster snook close to 20 lbs! What a catch and awesome to see. We got some pictures and released her very healthy, snook is something I don’t like to kill on my boat especially with all the ones dying further north of us right now. She was over the slot limit anyways. After that we hooked a big something not sure what but it cut us off. Then we saw a good size tarpon roll behind the boat and within a few minutes, we hooked a nice 85 lber that gave us a great fight! After that things slowed down we fished there a bit more but didn’t do much. We tried one more area on the way home and did see one tarpon we tried to get set up near but no luck. Anyways a great day for the boys there is definitely still good fishing to be had here in Islamorada, FL. September and October can still be very good and you get the place to yourself. Off for a few days if anyone wants to go later this week I’m not booked until Thursday, looks like we’ll have a similar condition so it could be good!  4 for 4

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
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