The end of ‘Tarpon Season’ and my tarpon totals for 2016

With tarpon season being over for a little while, please follow my other blog fishingislamorada.com for daily fishing reports through the next few months.

So it’s late November and I’m officially calling ‘tarpon season’ over for the most part.  The last couple weeks I have been mostly fishing for other things.  There had still been a few tarpon around but the water has been in the low 70 degree range which they aren’t really exactly happy in, though you could still have had a chance at catching them.  Though personally I think it’s kind of like spinning your wheels when there are so many other good fisheries that we have here.  We had our first real cold front a few days ago and the water dipped down into the 60s and now the tarpon seem more or less gone, aside from a handful of little guys and residents.  You can expect the next few months to not be a great time in general for tarpon.  We usually start catching a few sometime in February when things start to warm back up, but of course the weather dictates how that goes.  If we are still having severe cold fronts through February then it will be later, but if its calm & warm it can be game on.  That is also true of the next few months – if the winds lay out and the water jumps up to the high 70s, tarpon can show up overnight.  But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.  March is usually when it really starts to get consistent again… Continue reading

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2/25/17 More February Islamorada Tarpon Fishing

Got out with Jim, Jeff, and Ryan today and tarpon was on their list of fish to try and catch.  I knew the water was still a little chilly but with it being fairly calm and on a warming trend told them we’d probably have a shot.  Anyways we fished for the spanish mackerels first and that was pretty good fishing considering we had almost no wind.  After that we looked out around the channels where we had caught our big fish yesterday.  I gave it a good hard look, hoping to spot either some rolling fish or possibly mark some packs on the bottom.  But we saw nothing and we checked a couple different areas.  I knew the tide would soon be turning so I decided to run further to check off some of the mainland areas where we had found some big schools of tarpon just before the last front.  We got out there but didn’t see any signs of life… So we ended up running back to where we had been before, hoping some fish might move in with the incoming tide starting.  Luckily that happened we started seeing a handful of fish roll and started catching quite a few blacktip sharks.  We hooked into a few big sawfish too but they were too big for us to get up before they cut us off.  We moved around a bit trying to entice a tarpon bite but to no avail.  Finally I decided to run further up the channel to take a look and we started seeing quite a few more tarpon.  We had about an hour left to fish, and we were able to get a few bites out of the tarpon.  Unfortunately they didn’t want to stay on the hook, we jumped a couple off straight away, and then had what I’m pretty sure was on just take the line and zip us for a couple seconds.  These did appear to be smaller 40 to 60 lb fish, which have been giving us a little more trouble hooking lately versus the big 100+ lb fish.  That was about all she wrote, hate not catching one but it happens sometimes!  At least we had some good action and 3 bites isn’t bad this time of year.  Have double half days the next two days, so probably won’t be doing much tarpon fishing, but maybe next week.  0 for 3

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/24/17 Catching a big tarpon in Islamorada in February!

Got out with Doug and Caroline today who fished with me yesterday as well.  Yesterday we did snook and snappers and had a pretty good 3/4 day.  Today we decided to mix it up as the winds laid down some and tried other stuff.  We caught mackerels in the morning along with some mangrove snappers, then decided to give the big stuff a try.  It was still on the chilly side from the minor front/rain we had a couple days ago, water was in the low 70s.  But it was fairly calm and sun was coming out, and looked like a tarpon-like day otherwise.  We looked in a couple areas and didn’t see much, so we just put baits out on some numbers I like to sit at sometimes.  We caught a few sharks, and then Caroline hooked a gigantic tarpon!  It jumped immediately and I could tell it was big…  It screamed about 150 yards of line off as we spun the boat around and got the trolling motor up to give chase.  Caroline did great and kept the rod pointed at the fish early on, which is imperative when fishing circle hooks like we do.  We caught up with the fish and it did some violent head shaking and made a couple more jumps right near the boat which we got good pictures of.  Finally after one last jump it more or less gave out, a fairly short fight for a fish this size, only about 20 minutes or so.  Once we got the fish boat side I realized how big it was… It was easily 7 foot long, but what stuck out in my mine was just the girth of the fish.  All the way to the tail it was very thick, and most of the pictures don’t do it justice.  But one shot that Doug snapped really shows how thick she was.  We tried to measure it but we were in deeper water and the fish wouldn’t lay still easily, and I didn’t want to mess with it too long and possibly kill it.  Though I’m guessing close to 200 lbs, and I don’t throw that number around often like some people like to.  Anyways it’s easily one of the top 3 in size that i’ve caught and we were thrilled with the catch.  Just goes to show you, you never know if you don’t try!  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/21/17 February Tarpon Report in the Everglades

Gave the tarpon a shot today it wasn’t a priority fish but sharks were, though I knew we’d had a shot at getting tarpon too.  The winds were north in the morning, not my favorite for tarpon fishing, though turned east later in the day.  We didn’t find any tarpon where they had been the last week or so, just a bunch of sharks and did get a few sawfish too.  So I ended up looking out off of some mainland areas where I hadn’t been yet this year for tarpon.  We found a pile of them, almost as far as you could see they were rolling and busting a little bit!  We gave it an hour and caught plenty of sharks, and did have a couple tarpon bites thankfully, but they just didn’t want to stay on the hook!  At least we had a couple shots though.  After that we did some light tackle mackerel fishing to end the day.  I’m off tomorrow and it looks like it’s going to be nasty anyways, rain and windy, so good to have it off.  Thursday I’ll be back at it, we have a little bit of a west breeze though so that may not be very good for tarpon fishing but I may end up giving it a shot, we’ll see what they want to do!  0 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/20/17 Late February Tarpon in the Everglades National Park

Got out with Steve, Dick, and Floyd today.  Tarpon was one of the fish mentioned on their itinerary.  We had some bait leftover from yesterday so we went right to it.  The tides were predicted to be very weak, and i knew after yesterday we’d be near the slack if we did other fishing first, so we went right to the tarpon area.  We didn’t see much for fish in the first few stops.  I looked around hard since I’d been seeing a lot of activity and such when I’d been catching them.  We spent around 30 minutes checking 3 different areas, but not a whole lot showing.  We fished for a bit in one, caught a few sharks and a 200 lb sawfish mud marlin.  I talked to another boat who had been fishing up the channel where we had looked first thing, he hadn’t seen much either.  So we checked one more spot where I had ran over a few fish the day before.  We lucked out and as soon as I stopped the boat, I saw multiple fish on the bottom machine and a few rolling – we were in ’em!  First bait out we had a bite in about 30 seconds, though we jumped him off.  Put it right back out there and a minute later we were hooked up.  A nice 100 lb fish!  He jumped a couple times, but then was playing down and dirty the rest of the time.  We followed him around and he dragged us for quite a ways.  He didn’t give up and we fought him for an hour and a half!  We finally got him to the boat on the leader, but as soon as we tried to get him in the hand for pictures, the line went slack and he fell right off the hook!  Oh well the boys got some good video at least, I snapped a few pics while he rolled while we fought him.  We were very happy to get the official release, minus the boatside pics.  After that the tide was very dead, a few more fish were rolling, but no more action out of them.  We finished the day catching some spanish mackerel and headed home.  1 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/19/17 Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Florida Keys

Tried for the tarpon again, today it was slick calm early on in the morning and a light breeze out of the west later in the afternoon.  We struggled trying to catch our bait but were able to get enough after a little while.  We found a lot of tarpon rolling where they were the day before… but we didn’t have much tide.  We had the last trickle of incoming, then it was slack for 20 minutes or so.  Tarpon were floating all around us and we couldn’t get much out of them.  I know there were 3 other boats in the area and I don’t think any of them had any luck either.  Anyways we did catch some sharks.  The boys didn’t want to give it much more time after the little over an hour we had spent, we went and did some triple tail fishing and that was very good!  Oh well maybe we will get one tomorrow.  0 for 0

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/18/17 More February Tarpon Fishing in the Florida Keys

Well after the small cold blast we had the last couple days, today was flat calm and things warmed up again nicely.  A mini front dropped the water temperatures from the high 70s back down to 70ish, and the tarpon definitely dont like that.  I didn’t even bother fishing for them, but we did some other things for the last couple days to keep us busy.  Today my anglers Brandon and Eric had mentioned tarpon and I told them we’d have a shot since it looked to be on the warming trend, even though water temps are still on the lower end of what I like to see for catching tarpon in Islamorada.  We caught plenty of mackerels early on for the first hour, then went and checked the channels.  We found a ton of tarpon where we first stopped, didn’t see many rolling but a tail splash here or there, but I could see them on my bottom machine!  We first hooked a big blacktip that Eric battled, and as soon as we landed that, Brandon hooked a monster 150 lb tarpon.  He jumped several times but never made any blistering runs, but luckily he stayed on the hook.  We eventually landed him after 20 minutes or so – a pretty quick battle for a fish that size.  We got sucked into looking for tarpon the rest of the day, and fished a few more areas, though that was to be the only bite we had.  We did catch some more sharks, and a big old sawfish which was cool.  Marked a few other tarpon and maybe saw a couple roll in some of the other areas, but no big packs like where we first stopped.  Anyhow tomorrow looks like conditions should be good for the silver king in the florida keys, then looks like it’ll get a little chilly a couple nights later in the week, but maybe not enough to really bother the tarpon – we will have to see!  That’s the only problem this time of year is you still have a good possibility of cold weather, and sometimes even though it may not feel like it changes much, a few degrees in the water temperatures can make the tarpon go from happy and chewing, to not doing much at all.  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/15/17 February Tarpon Fishing in the Everglades

Got out with Jim and Gwen today, two of my longest running customers and some of my favorites.  Winds were kicking out of the southwest pretty good as we have another front coming in.  We had some bait left over from a few days ago and we hit the channels looking for some tarpon.  We found them in the first place we stopped, had nice falling tide that would last most of the day.  We caught a few sharks early then Jim jumped a nice tarpon over 100 lbs!  Too bad he didn’t stay on the hook though…  After that we moved around a bit and caught a couple more sharks, then Gwen hooked a nice 70 lb tarpon that we landed.  A good fight we had to chase it for a while but got some nice pictures by the boat.  After that the tarpon seemed to slow down, so we tried another part of the channel.  Saw a few on the bottom machine but no more bites, but we did catch some more sharks and a ‘mud marlin’ sawfish.  After that it got rougher and we hid around the islands to catch some snappers for dinner and came home.  With the front coming in tonight and tomorrow, I imagine the tarpon will slow down for a few days again… suppose to get down around 60 and they definitely don’t like that!  But not going to get cold until tomorrow night so maybe there will be a shot tomorrow morning.  1 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/9/17 Islamorada Tarpon Fishing in February

Got after the tarpon again today.  We had a light southwesterly breeze that picked up a little in the afternoon but overall not too bad.  It is a prefrontal condition though and suppose to get down in the 60s tonight so may turn the tarpon off for a few days at least.  We caught plenty of mackerels early and then hit the tarpon areas.  Fish were where they had been, we caught sharks and some ‘mud marlin’ sawfish early on, and after a couple moves we hooked a big 150 lb tarpon!  He was jumping like crazy coming at us and every which direction, but he stayed on there.  We got him to the boat with leader in hand, but he didn’t want to pose for a boatside picture.  Luckily we caught another and this one wasn’t quite as big but still probably 120-130 or so.  He didn’t fight as hard but still ended up taking us a ways with the current and wind, but we got him next to the boat for some good photo ops.  After that we caught a few more sharks and tried for a few snook again to finish the day, but with the wind direction the shoreline area was fairly muddy and didn’t have much luck.  Though a great day with 2 big tarpon and some other critters too!  2 for 2

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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2/8/17 February Tarpon fishing in Islamorada

Had a glass calm day today and it looked very tarpony out there!  February is usually still pretty early for our tarpon season, but when its hot and calm like this, they can definitely show up.  I had heard the last couple days a few were around again though didn’t have clients that were interested in them… Today though it sounded like a good option.  We caught a bunch of mackerels much of which we used for bait early on.  Then we hit the channels out west of flamingo and found the tarpon there.  They weren’t chewing like crazy, but after a little work we soon had a nice 80 lber hooked up.  We got him boatside but he threw the hook before we could get good victory pictures as they often do, but still landed none the less.  After that we ended up with more sharks, and a few big mud marlin, and finished the day with some nice snook.  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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1/27/17 January Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Report

Got out with Rod and Mark today and we decided to mix things up a bit.  It’d been flat calm the last couple days after it blew very hard sunday/monday, like 45 mph it was crazy!  Anyways things had warmed up a bit and I heard yesterday there were some tarpon around that the fly guys were chasing.  Anyways we decided to give it a shot we caught plenty of spanish mackerel in the morning and used them for bait.  We found some sharks in the channel as well, lemons and blacktips, as well as a couple big ‘mud marlin’ saw fish!  We only had 1 tarpon bite, but it counted and we landed a nice 75 lb fish!  Anyways nice to have caught the first tarpon of the year in January!  Looks like its suppose to get cold the next few nights though so it probably is going to be short lived.  But February is right around the corner and that can be the start of tarpon season for us if it is warm like it is today.  Of course the weather is unpredictable…  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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