Tarpon Season 2017

So March is almost over and we’ve been fortunate enough to have a fairly good ‘early season’ run of tarpon.  With the extremely mild winter, we’ve had a handful of fish in some spots since early February.  It wasn’t red hot fishing but if you put a little time in, you could get a bite or two on the right days.  Those days being when the water was in the mid to high 70 degree range, and hopefully not blowing too hard.  March has gotten a little better, though mid-march we had a very hard cold front hit us that cooled water temps back down into the low 60s and had them stay low for close to a week or so.  It was perfect timing for me as I was taking a week off to celebrate the birth of my son, Felix!  Anyways right when I got back, things had started to warm back up and the last couple weeks of March we’ve had even better fishing.  As I write this I’d say we are just about in ‘full swing’ of tarpon season, with many fish having showed up in the backcountry in the last week, as well as plenty of fish in many of the local channels and around the bridges in the last few days too.

I imagine April should be a very good month… last year our early spring fishing was very up and down.  We had very unpredictable wind that would change direction every few days, a lack of bait that normally shows up (I’m talking the humongous balls of silver mullet we normally see), and nasty water to contend with (red weed, algae).  Fish were around last year, but many days they were very uncooperative… not responding to our usual tactics, or teasing us with ‘cheap shots’ or flashing on baits and not eating them.  But this year the bait so far seems to be showing up very well, the winds have been steadier out of the east (aside from a few late fronts), and the algae water has really cleared out and red weed hasn’t been near as much a problem as in years past.  I can say through the month of March, I’ve caught as many fish as I did last year in the same month, but in half the amount of days fishing.  And we’ve 4 more days to go still.  I’ve had years when it’s better early on, but after last year I’m very pleased with the start so far.

As far as bookings go, I’m already all booked up through about the third week of June.  July has a few more openings, and August is fairly wide open.  The summer months can still be very good fishing (often June and July are some of my overall best months, numbers wise).  Normally I’d have more trips available the next couple months, but I’m not doing any night trips this year due to having a child.  I may do a few short notice when my schedule allows and conditions look good, so don’t be afraid to ask.  If I can’t take you, I’m happy to give referrals.  Drop me a line if you are interested in going tarpon fishing in Islamorada!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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3/28/17 Half Day Tarpon Fishing in Islamorada

Got out for a half day today to do some tarpon fishing.  Had some bait leftover from yesterday and some live mullet that I kept overnight that were in good shape.  Unfortunately the tarpon were not very cooperative.  We found some fish in the channel where I had caught them a few days ago, but they didn’t bite early on.  We went down to the bigger bridges and channels down the road, and found a lot of fish out off the edge of one of the flats leading to the bridge.  My buddy who was also fishing the other part of our party ended up having a bite and catching one there, but we moved around 4 or 5 times, and never had one even show any interest in a bait.  A couple baits did get pretty nervous, and we caught a big jack crevelle, but that was it.  Tried the channels near home again for the last hour of the trip, and no bites there either.  Anyways, tough morning for us… It was nice to get on a little roll while it lasted.  Tomorrow I have the same crew but we are meat fishing, and Thursday I’m off, so may not get back to tarpon fishing until Friday or so.  0 for 0

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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3/27/17 Islamorada Tarpon Fishing in March continues

Got out with the Donahue brothers today over from California.  We caught plenty of trout in the morning and saved some for dinner.  Later on we ran back to look for the tarpon off of Flamingo.  We saw a handful though we had to wait a bit for the tide to start coming in.  After 45 minutes and a couple moves, it started to creep in slowly.  We hadn’t had much action, and made another move out to where we saw some fish showing.  After a bit we finally hooked a nice 110 lb fish.  He fought hard and we landed him though no boatside picture as he broke off on the leader.  Set back up and about 30 minutes later we hooked another fish, of about 90 lbs or so.  Same type of fight he stayed down and dirty and made a few crazy leaping jumps.  We got him on the leader and tried to take it a little easier on him, but after several violent thrusts under the boat, the hook pulled out.  They just didn’t want to cooperate for photo ops, but good release none the less.  The last fish we hooked about 15 minutes later, we got him boat side after 10 minutes or so, but he jumped and threw the hook but got the leader into the rod tip for a technical release.  So all in all fairly good fishing though we had to wait on it to get right, the first hour and a half almost had me sweating!  Anyways couple half days the next two days, probably fishing tarpon locally around the bridges and channels.  We’ll see what happens!  3 for 3

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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3/26/17 March Tarpon Fishing half day Islamorada

Got out with Zack and his dad Peter this morning for a half day tarpon trip.  We didn’t see much in the first channel and it was very weedy… made it tough to fish our live baits they kept getting knocked off the hooks.  I moved after 20 minutes since we hadn’t seen much and got frustrated after losing 3 baits.  But we moved out to the other end of the channel and found a big pack of tarpon!  They were rolling frequently and busting here and there.  We ended up hooking one after about 15 minutes of fishing, Zack caught a nice 80 lb fish.  After that it kind of slowed down, we caught a shark and a big jack crevelle.  Though no more tarpon bites.  We moved around a little bit too but no luck.  After that they started to thin out and I moved to the channel next door.  We found some more fish there and gave it some time, catching a few more blacktips, a big nurse shark, and then another tarpon of about 60 lbs!  Continued to see a few more fish, and caught another big jack, and then that was about the end of our morning.  The tide was quitting and it was time to go.  Though very happy to have caught a couple, the winds are suppose to subside today and should be a nice week coming up.  I think the fishing will be good!  2 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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3/25/17 March Tarpon Fishing Islamorada in the Everglades

Got out today for a 3/4 day with Dennis and his daughter Molly down from Minnesota.  They didn’t have any specific requests for fishing, so I suggested we do a mix of light tackle and then try for some bigger stuff possibly tarpon and sharks.  Things worked out great we had good action with trout in the morning and did that for a little over an hour or so.  Then we checked a couple tarpon spots.  Nothing in the first set of channels, I had thought maybe some fish would of pushed in there with the weather warming up but didn’t see much though I didn’t try fishing it either.  I ran back to where the big school of tarpon was a few days ago, and there were still a few there!  They weren’t stacked up like the other day, but after a little looking around I started to see some signs of them.  We set up and within 15 minutes or so had a nice 75 lb fish on that Dennis caught.  We caught a few sharks too which Molly loved, and then she got to catch a tarpon roughly the same size as dads.  It jumped like crazy and hit the boat, we got the leader on it, but then the hook pulled before we could get a good picture though a legal catch.  After that we headed home and stopped to catch bait for tomorrow on the way.  Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow but I think I have a half day so may be fishing closer to town if it’s for tarpon.  2 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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3/23/17 Tarpon Fishing in March Islamorada Florida Keys

Well today it got flat calm and conditions were ‘right!’  We caught some mullet on our way out, found some birds bombing on a flat and were able to get nearby in the channel and catch enough bait in a half dozen throws of the cast net.  We ran back into the everglades where we had found the tarpon yesterday, but today I knew we’d have tide all morning plus loaded with fresh bait so it was a good scenario.  The tarpon fishing was epic… I had Steven and his son Mason from Arkansas.  They had fished here before offshore, but never in the backcountry.  Today was their lucky day!  We proceeded to mash the tarpon… going 6 for 12 in about 3 1/2 hours!  It really does not ever get any better than that.  Around noon time, the boys had had their fill so we decided to just do some rod bending.  We caught plenty of trout and a handful of ladyfish.  Just an awesome day, the one i’ve been waiting for!  Definitely the best day I’ve had this year, though tomorrow it sounds like it’s suppose to change and blow 25.  Good thing I’m taking off.  Hopefully some of these fish will continue pushing through into the backcountry and locally here.  6 for 12

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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