2/28/17 February Islamorada Tarpon Fishing Report

Got out with Brian and Bob today and tarpon was on their bucket list.  We caught some mullet early on I hadn’t been using them much but I figured it’s getting close to that time.  We were able to find a mud after a little looking around.  After a few empty throws we caught about 2 dozen.  We tried the backcountry channels in the AM and not much going on back there.  The sharks weren’t even really biting!  We moved around a bit and with all the wind and mud didn’t see a whole lot except for 1 tarpon roll.  But after over an hour we hadn’t had a bite just one little shark so we moved on.  The next channel we caught another couple sharks and that was it, no signs of tarpon life.  We decided to bend the light rods a little for an hour or so, and did catch some nice trout.  We then ran back towards Islamorada to give the local channels a try which I haven’t really fished yet this year.  We set up and after about 25 minutes or so, Brian hooked a great 80 lb tarpon!  He jumped a few times and then we landed him after a 20 minute battle.  I didn’t see any other fish rolling but did see a few on the bottom machine, so hopefully they’ll stick around.  We may be giving it a try again tomorrow!  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

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

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

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

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