Tarpon Season 2018 Outlook

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For the numbers last year in 2017 we caught 269 tarpon in 149 trips which works out to about 1.81 tarpon per trip.  The ratio is slightly better than my 2015 year which we caught roughly 1.75 tarpon per trip, and a good bit better than 2016 year which was about 1.44 tarpon per trip.  As always we consider a catch where we get the wind-on leader into the rod tip – this means any of the monofilament leader on the end of my braided line, which can be up to 30 feet including the ‘bite leader’.  So some of these fish we don’t always get boat side for a nice pictures, but rather we go by tournament/IGFA rules.  Also trips constitute any trip that we try tarpon fishing – whether we fish for them just for an hour, or all day – as we often fish for other things especially in the tarpon ‘off season.’

April has been absolutely spectacular fishing for the first week.  The winds haven’t been howling too crazy and it’s stayed warm.  The tarpon showed up in droves and we had very good fishing.  Weather looks good for the next week or so too so the bite should remain fairly strong.  Full days have been a better bet as of late as the backcountry fishing was really good though sounds like local fishing is picking up too.

I’m pretty much all booked up through the end of May but have some availability still in June and of course July.  Both are great months traditionally for tarpon, June is often my biggest month with numbers, and July can be right up there too.  At those times we are often fishing for our resident ‘summer time’ fish which on average aren’t quite as big (in the 30 to 80 lb range, rather than the 60 to 120 lbs spring time fish).  However you can usually catch them in a much shorter amount of time, and this means the chances of catching multiple fish is much greater as you aren’t spending a lot of time fighting one fish when the others are hungry!  Also there is much less pressure on the fish as its a bit less busy, and many guides are starting to focus on other things.  August can still be good too especially the early part of it.  Of course every year is different, but I will say summer time is my favorite time of year for tarpon fishing.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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4/19/18 April Full Day Backcountry Tarpon Fishing

Got out with Michael and Kevin today for some tarpon fishing.  We tried locally around town first but not much going on there.  Weak end of the tidal flow, very clear water with it being super calm after the cold front.  Saw some fish but they weren’t doing much.  We did see one caught but we bailed.  We did some light rod fishing and caught some trout, then looked in some channels for tarpon.  Found a few which was great!  Sharks only at first, but as we were releasing one of them, Michael hooked up on a nice 50 lb tarpon!  We landed him and he put on quite a show jumping.  No boatside pictures though as he pulled the hook on the leader, but a good release none the less.  After that we caught some triple tails in the gulf as it was slick calm.  Checked another area for tarpon and saw a few there too, not a ton but a decent amount.  No more bites though that was all she wrote for us.  Glad to be back on the board!  Looks like tomorrow should be similar conditions to today, then the wind will pick up a little over the weekend but shouldn’t be cranking.  I’m off tomorrow but back at it Saturday.  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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4/17/18 April Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Trip

Got out with Chris, Kyle, and James today for a full day april tarpon fishing trip.  The cold front came in and the temperatures dropped a good bit.  Water temps were back down in the mid 70s locally, and in the 60s in the backcountry.  Normally mid 70s is OK for tarpon, but when it drops from being in the low 80s they don’t like it as much.  We found a few fish early on around the bridges, but not much activity out of them.  We moved around and eventually got one interested.  He gave us a bite but stole the mullet and then didn’t come back.  We then bent the light rods for a little bit on the patch reefs.  We tried tarpon again later on, found a few big jack crevells in the channels and a shark.  We moved several times and found a couple other groups of tarpon but they just were not interested.  We may of had one other pick up our bait and zip it before stealing it, not sure what it was.  Anyways the streak is over at 19 trips in a row, pretty good but I figured the cold front may do me in.  Oh well time for a new one!  0 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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4/16/18 April Full Day Tarpon Fishing Florida Keys

Got out with Aaron, Ben, and Jake for a full day of tarpon fishing in the florida keys.  We fished locally as we had a cold front come in last night.  The temperatures didn’t drop like crazy, but somewhat and a hard north wind to start the day.  Crazy storm last night on the leading edge we actually had a tornado touch down in plantation key.  We caught some bait early on and found some active fish.  We had good activity and got a tarpon right off the bat.  Got a technical release as we reeled him quickly to the wind-on leader but then he jumped and threw the hook.  Unfortunately we had the rod high and pulled back on him and you must bow to the king when he jumps, not pull back!  After that we had a couple more good bites that we didn’t connect on, and one more that grabbed the mullet and spit it.  Plenty of ‘cheap shots’ too where fish came up and swatted the baits, flashed them, boiled on them, and all that fun stuff that goes along with our live mullet fishing.  It was entertaining to say the least!  After a couple hours of that the action slowed down and we ran back to some other areas.  Found a good group of tarpon but they just weren’t feeding we gave it about 45 minutes.  We moved around and found some more, and these guys were hungry!  We caught two tarpon very quickly, about 50 lbers.  One a 200 lb bull shark tried to eat it was very exciting and the tarpon got away thankfully!  We missed one more bite there too.  We moved around again because the fish seemed to have moved on at that point, and caught up with our sister boat who was into some fish.  We caught three more tarpon here.  It was just banner fishing and the last couple hours of the day mid afternoon.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures it was difficult with three guys on the boat and we were working hard to try and get them some fish after the missed opportunities we had early on.  So what a day landing 5 tarpon officially and missing quite a few more.  Looks like it’s gonna drop into the 60s tonight so that might switch things up a little, I don’t think it’ll totally kill the tarpon bite but they might move around or get picky.  We’ll find out tomorrow!  5 for 10

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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4/15/18 Tarpon Fishing Half Day Islamorada Charter

Got out with Allen and Stuart today, day two of our group trip with two other boats.  Bait’s been tough but we obtained a little yesterday afternoon.  Winds were kicking hard south with a front approaching this evening.  But the morning wasn’t bad just a bit windy.  One of the boats got in on a hungry pack of fish early and called us down.  We were the odd man out though, we were right in the middle of the two other boats with fish surrounding us.  We couldn’t get a bite though only bonnethead sharks!  The boats on either side of us each caught two.  We moved around a bit and finally when one of the boats hooked their second, they called us over and we just sat on their anchor ball.  We did get hooked up here finally – a big 150 lber!  Good fight and very acrobatic fish!  We got some good pictures boatside and released her unharmed.  We moved back into the area, and both the other boats hooked up again, one ended up catching three and another caught four.  We didn’t have another bite.  We even slid in where the other boats were as they moved to let us in since we were all fishing the same group.  But we had the bad mojo I guess.  Anyways I won’t say it was too bad as we did catch one, and a big one at that.  But just one of those days where we were in the dog house so to say!  Anyways I’m probably jinxing myself especially with the late cold front coming, but it’s been 18 trips in a row with landing at least one tarpon.  So I’ve been consistent if nothing else and I’ll usually always take that.  Back at it tomorrow but we do have lots of rain coming in tonight, but hopefully it’ll dry out by early morning.  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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4/14/18 April Tarpon Fishing in the Florida Keys

Got out with Mike and Harry for a full day today.  Bait was tough for us we didn’t catch much in the AM but got a handful, and I had a few leftovers from a few days ago.  We found some small fish first thing in the AM, had a couple bites out of them but they threw the hook straight away!  Also got a big trout, a few sharks, and a bluefish.  After an hour or so the tide quit, we tried to catch a bit more bait.  It was a struggle but we caught another 8 or so which helped.  Next stop it paid off Harry hooked a big 120 lb tarpon we landed on one of them!  We moved around a bit more and then had a few more sharks starting to bite.  Then Mike had a nice 80 lb tarpon grab a bait but he didn’t stay on the hook for us unfortunately.  I was running low on bait again and we looked around one more time but bait just wasn’t very catchable, but one of our sister boats who was also fishing the same party spared us a few extra he had.  We ended up getting a big sawfish on one of those baits which was cool!  We moved one more time where we had seen a tarpon but no more tarpon bites.  Though sharks kept us busy.  Back at it tomorrow with these guys hopefully we can get Mike a tarpon!  1 for 4

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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