2015 Year in Review and Febuary on Tarpon outlook

I’d forgotten to do it the last couple weeks but I have the numbers for my 2015 year tarpon season tallied up.  Overall we landed 280 tarpon on 160 trips, averaging a perfect 1.75 tarpon per trip!  Landing a fish means getting the leader into the rod tip or hand (we don’t always get fish up for a boat side picture unfortunately).  Also a trip may signify a full 8 hours of fishing for nothing but tarpon, or we may of only tried for an hour and did other stuff the rest of the day.  However that represents a lot of hard work and consistency and I am pretty proud of that number.  These numbers are all day time fishing for the most part – the earliest I left the dock was 5:45 AM (usually to run back in the everglades in the summer, an hour run), and on the evening trips we were generally always back at the dock by 8:00 PM with exception to only a couple times.  The day time fishing usually does require a bit more work sometimes to get the fish interested in feeding, however the overall experience I feel is so much better getting to see the bites and fight the fish in the daylight.  It was a great season overall even though things didn’t really get rolling until March (the previous years we had decent fishing throughout February, however it stayed cooler later in 2015 so it wasn’t as good for tarpon then).  The latter part of the season I think was stronger, which often can be the case when the season starts a little later.  June overall was the best month (62 fish landed on 25 trips), followed close by April (60 fish landed on 28 trips).  March through August were the best of it.

Now as for 2016 we have finally started having a real winter here this January.  Throughout December we were still having nothing but 80+ degree weather and still plenty of tarpon around in the backcountry and Islamorada.  However now that we’ve had several cold fronts and the water temps are in the 60s, things are actually on the colder side.  It’s tough to say what February will bring – I’ve heard with the effects of La Nina following El Nino, it keeps things colder for a while, so it may again lead to a slower start for tarpon season for us.  Anyways my general response is you can expect to start catching a few tarpon usually in February, however it is very weather dependant (which is true for any time of year down here).  March things should get much more consistent, with April beginning the ‘prime time’ for tarpon.  Things are looking very busy for me, most of my season through May is already booked.  However I do have dates available if you are more flexible.  Also as stated don’t discount the summer time fishing, it can be every bit as good if not better than the spring plus you often have the fishing all to yourselves as we aren’t fishing the crowded bridges as often.  Drop me a line and lets get out fishing soon!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/28/16 Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Report

Got out with Jim, Jay, and Ruth Anne today for some tarpon fishing for a 3/4 day.  They are also fishing with me tomorrow.  We ran out into the backcountry to avoid the holiday weekend crowds, but also since the fishing has been pretty good back there as of late.  I also didn’t have to bother catching bait as one of the other guides wasn’t fishing this weekend and gave me a cooler of leftover mullet which was plenty for today.  Things have finally started to stay semi-consistent, though I am a little leary to start thinking like that especially with this year I see how quickly it likes to change!  Anyways the winds laid down to almost nothing.  We fished some of the channels we did the last few days, a couple sharks to start us off and then Ruth Anne hooked a nice 90 lb tarpon we landed which put on quite a show when it was first hooked.  After that things settle down for a little while and the tide started to slow up.  I was threatening to leave spots and then all of a sudden Jay jumped a nice tarpon, and a few minutes after that ended up hooking one that he also landed of about 50 lbs.  Now it was really time to go as the tide was getting near slack.  We ran further out west where we had found fish the previous day though the tide was not quite getting going yet.  We had a few shark bites while the water was still, and once it started going Jim jumped a tarpon.  We didn’t see whole lot though with as calm as it was I would’ve expected to see quite a few more rolling etc…  That was the last of the tarpon bites unfortunately we fished for almost another hour with the tide rolling out pretty good, though we did catch a few more sharks and a small cobia anyways.  All in all no complaints after this year I’m very happy to catch at least one on any day!  Tomorrow we will do it again I’ll probably start off in the same general areas and maybe check out some new stuff later on as the fish may be moving around a little bit.  2 for 4

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/27/16 Late May Everglades Tarpon Fishing Report

I was out with Gary over from the UK this morning we had a full day for some tarpon fishing.  I was able to buy a bit of bait to get started with yesterday afternoon though of course it was much more catchable in the morning too.  Winds were east again still a little breezy but not crazy.  Anyways we did the same loop we did the previous day but today the fish were much more cooperative.  We jumped a tarpon within the first 5 minutes of fishing, then a few minutes later hooked one that we landed a nice 80 lber or so.  After that we fished a bit longer as the tide quit but not much other action.  We ran further out west to catch the start of the falling tide and tried another channel.  Not much there but we only gave it 20 minutes or so.  We ran to a different channel and set up and we had jumped another tarpon soon after that.  We eventually landed another tarpon, jumped another one, and got a technical release on another as we got leader to the tip but then he jumped and spit the hook.  We also caught plenty of blacktip sharks, a cobia, and a ‘mud marlin’.  It was a great day on the water hopefully fishing stays like this!  3 for 6

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/26/16 May Backcountry Tarpon Fishing in Islamorada

Got out again today with Steve and Mark.  Fishing was a little tougher today, the wind was blowing though had laid down a little from what it was yesterday afternoon.  Though today it was hard north wind in the backcountry once we got there, not exactly what you want in May!  The wind had pushed a lot of the water out of the bay and we couldn’t quite get up to where I wanted to catch bait this morning.  We picked a few drifting in the channel but had a hard time of it.  After a little while we checked a couple other areas though didn’t see much else for catchable bait.  Luckily we had some leftovers from the previous day anyways so we got to fishing.  Didn’t have much early on though once the tide got moving we saw a few tarpon roll.  They didn’t wanna play though we did catch a couple big sharks.  After that we ran to another channel and looked for more bait on the way though no luck with that.  We fished a bit and there were tarpon here too, though again no love from them but we caught a few small sharks and big sting rays.  After that we were about out of bait and tried to catch some ladyfish in some channel runoffs, though even they didn’t want to cooperate.  We did see a few mullet as the tide fell out on the edge of the flats in the second area we looked for ladyfish.  I threw the net a half dozen more times to scrounge up a half dozen mullet – enough to fish with for a bit longer!  We found some more tarpon and Mark did get a bite out of them, unfortunately he just didn’t stay on the hook.  We did land a few more sharks and Steve got a ‘mud marlin’ sawfish which was cool.  Tough day overall though we worked hard at it things just didn’t pan out, I was glad the guys had such a good day previously with the tarpon.  Tomorrow i’m out again I  went out this afternoon looking for bait in the bay figuring with the high winds they’d be easy to catch in the muds, only there were no good looking muds!  I was able to scrounge up a few mullets from the bait guys and hopefully can catch some more in the morning, hopefully they are more cooperative tomorrow!  0 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/25/16 May Tarpon Fishing in Islamorada

Got out today for a full day after having a much needed day off yesterday.  The winds kicked up quite a bit, blowing a good 15 mph and probably 20 mph by the time the day ended.  Anyways I had Mark and Steve out from Kentucky and they are also fishing with me tomorrow.  We left out early and caught a bit of bait in the backcountry.  Some mullet have been showing up in the usual summer time spots hopefully they stay there!  After a half hour we had enough to fish for the day with.  We jumped in some channels and had the start of the falling tide.  We soon hooked a nice 90 lb fish Mark landed pretty quickly.  Nice to get a bite straight away for sure!  After that we had a little shark action and after an hour or so we hooked another tarpon of about the same size.  He ran around a little bit more and we chased him down and got some good pictures by the boat.  After that it was Steves turn he hooked a nice lemon shark about 100 lbs or so.  Then he got his shot at a tarpon not quite as big but a nice fish none the less, a 40 lber.  After that we caught a few more blacktip sharks, a lemon, and a couple nurse sharks were mixed in there.  Action packed and didn’t have to move much all day.  We will be at it again tomorrow hopefully the fish stay put!  3 for 3

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/23/16 May Backcountry Tarpon Fishing Report

Today we had good fishing we left out at 7 as I had another boat with me on the trip.  We found a handful of tarpon in some channels early though not many.  No bites we caught a few sharks though.  Near 10:30 we were making our way to the gulf to switch things up and try something else, though we ran into a large school of tarpon on the way!  It was slick calm so it was easy to spot them rolling a ways away.  Anyways we were right on the slack tide it was just starting in.  As soon as it did we both got good action.  We ended up landing 3 out of 6 tarpon all in the 30 to 50 lb range.  Good fun we were glad to have found them.  Anyways I had a day off after this finally after 30+ days and lots of evenings, so enjoying that and back to the grind on Wednesday.  Will be tarpon fishing some more.  Summer time is here hopefully after this full moon the fish will settle in and it will get consistent as it should.  3 for 6

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/22/16 Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Report late may

Got out early after them today.  We tried some of the local channels first and got out at 5 AM in the dark.  Though it was plenty bright with the full moon out.  Winds were light northwest – can’t beleive it northwest breeze and it is almost June!  A mild chill in the air felt good though obviously not a fan of it for the fishing.  Anyways we heard a few fish rolling and made a few good drifts though never had a bite, tried another channel out back where the tide was running longer, and didn’t hear much there eventually saw one roll but still no luck.  Around 6:30 we ran into the backcountry and caught a few mullet on the way.  Tried a channel back there the sharks were very active, saw a couple tarpon roll eventually though no bite from them.  We ran to a different channel and saw a ton of tarpon rolling – yay!  We got in front of some, put baits out and soon after had a shark bite which I swore was a tarpon as a tarpon jumped right when/where it bit!  I don’t know how a shark got it, but it did.  Then we hooked a big lemon shark which was cool something different, and while fighting that Rob hooked a nice 40 lb tarpon we landed.  After that we had one more possible tarpon bite though we missed it never saw what it was, and then the tarpon just seemed to disappear.  We had been seeing them roll everywhere and now nothing.  Anyways we eventually left and tried another area where we found a lot of little tarpon though no bites out of them.  Then tried around town the last hour of the day with the live baits and we did have several tarpon give us some cheap shots, chasing the baits around, and finally another solid bite though we missed him – it was slack tide so tough to get tight on the fish and set the hook.  All in all a fun day was glad to have gotten one again.  1 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/21/16 May tarpon fishing report

Got out this morning for a half day and we caught a nice little tarpon in the backcountry.  They weren’t where they were the day before, we caught a few little sharks there.  But we found some around flamingo and got one to bite at least and landed him.  Didn’t see much else though only a couple rolling in the channel where we got the 1.  1 for 1

This evening I had the same crew again.  Unfortunately it was slow fishing again.  We had a few cheap shots on our mullet early and I thought we would get one, but didn’t happen.  We moved around and tried some different areas.  No dice.  We did find some fish rolling off the edge of a bank and set up there to fish for a bit, finally had one bait get a little nervous and jumpy though nothing ever pounded him.  We put our crabs out and we had a couple mystery bites on those, got the crabs back with a few legs missing though I dont think they were tarpon bites.  Anyways slow night our sister boat didn’t catch one either they jumped one off.  Going early tomorrow we will try to catch the falling tide first thing then run into the backcountry to try back there.  0 for 0

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/20/16 Islamorada Tarpon Fishing in May

5/19/16 We tried to get out in the morning it was nasty weather a lot of rain and lightning.  Anyways we were able to sneak out for almost a couple hours in the morning before the sun came up and the weather got real bad.  We did have plenty of tarpon around the boat and I would of swore we should’ve gotten a bite, but no dice.  We decided to call it quits after the weather got bad a bit later.  Got out in the evening and we had slow fishing.  Ran down to the big bridges and saw a few fish being caught though we couldn’t get a bite!  We ran back up near home and fished the local channels and did finally get a couple bites on our live mullet, though we missed them.  The guys wanted to be in at 8:00 promptly, otherwise I definitely would’ve stayed the extra little bit as I’m pretty sure we’d of gotten one hooked within a few more minutes, but no dice!  0 for 2

5/20/16 Today we were really after sharks and more action as the guys had fished the previous night for tarpon with another guide and didn’t have much luck.  We tried an area but even the sharks weren’t cooperating so I ran to a different spot.  There were tarpon rolling everywhere and we jumped a fish fairly quickly.  A little later we finally hooked and landed a nice smaller 40 lber.  Then we caught a few sharks and a big sting ray.  Then we moved a little bit as the grass got real bad drifting in the channel.  We hooked and landed another smaller tarpon of 50 lbs or so.  And a couple more small blacktip sharks.  Anyways a nice surprise.  2 for 3

5/20/16 Went out this evening and we had a slow night.  We worked very hard I went and caught plenty of fresh bait this afternoon.  Had a few cheap shots and one bite we missed fishing the big bridges.  The sister boat who was fishing the same group as us was in the right spot and we watched them catch 3 which was a little frustrating but oh well.  They seemed to be the only boat getting bit.  Anyways I gave it an extra half hour with the guys and we fished the local channels near home until 8:30 but not dice.  A couple tough nights for me lately hopefully tomorrow is better!  I won’t really be taking any more night trips unless on short notice for the rest of the season, when I know the fishing is good!  0 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/18/16 Islamorada half day tarpon fishing report

Got out this morning and we fished locally close by for a half day.  We had good strong incoming tide and a bit of weather around though it didn’t rain on us.  Kept nice and overcast which was helpful i think.  Anyways we hooked a big fish early on and chased him around for a good 45 minutes, got him to the boat but he broke on the leader before we could get good pics.  Then after that we set back up and saw a few more fish roll.  Moved around a bit to get lined up, and eventually hooked another one we jumped off right away.  We put the baits back out and literally 30 seconds later we hooked another one – nice!  We fought this big girl for over an hour, about a 150 lber very large fish!  Anyways we finally landed her but same thing she broke through on the leader.  Got one good jump shot of her though.  Anyways after that we fished a little longer and called it a morning.  Was glad to have good fishing as it was the same customers from yesterday and we had at tough day.  All you can do is go give it your best again though!  Anyways tomorrow I have a 3/4 day will be trying a similar routine and may go run down towards marathon to fish the big bridges if my live baits stay lively over night.  2 for 3

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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5/17/17 Islamorada Tarpon Report in may

Got out early I had some nice fresh mullet we caught yesterday afternoon.  However not much biting for us today we tried a local spot before sunrise for an hour.  Saw a couple fish in the area but no bite.  Then ran into the backcountry and nothing much back there, caught a couple sharks that was it.  We then tried some other things and caught a few trout and snapper, tried for some snook but no luck.  Finished up and caught a couple big sting rays trying for tarpon again.  Anyways tough day the wind was howling 20 mph east, hopefully it lays down and things get like they are suppose to in the summer time – nice and calm!  0 for 0

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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