Well we’ve had some early season warm weather here in the Florida Keys. Though as I write this we are getting a couple cold fronts and the coldest it’s gotten all winter (~60 degrees). But for the last couple weeks it’s been warm enough that a fair number of tarpon had been around. I was out of town for some of that period, and didn’t focus on them much as we were fishing for other things. But did get after some tarpon a couple different times. And we caught a couple big ones the two days we tried it! I’m predicting a fairly early start to our season though as I’ve said we have some cold weather coming now but often in recent years we’ve had fairly consistent tarpon fishing come the first or second week of February. So it’ll definitely be on the radar for me. I’m currently taking books for January and February, and will probably start taking some March bookings at the end of January. Remember if you are interesting in mounting that trophy tarpon of a lifetime I will give you first ‘dibs’ on booking dates so don’t be afraid to ask me ahead of time.
Got out with Rich today who had emailed me a couple weeks ago about fishing. It was his 50th and he really wanted to get a tarpon not only caught but up for a good picture as well! Sometimes as a guide you hate hearing that because its like a curse that you’ll catch one and you just know it won’t cooperate for the picture. It kinda looked like it was going to be one of those days too we ended up seeing a few fish early on and where we first set up we ended up hooking a nice 90 lb fish right off the bat. That is a large summer time fish and on our lighter summer gear it sure put up a fight. We chased it around on the flats in shallow water for near an hour, and it just kept going and going. There was some weather around and we eventually got near rolling the fish over on the leader, and she made a run and the braid popped as the leader went out the rod tip. But the one good thing it was about 2 minutes from pouring down rain so we high tailed it out of there and avoided getting soaked, but still a bit of a heart breaker a technical catch but no picture! We tried another channel where we ran to avoid the rain but no dice. Then we made our way back to where we started, the winds were rocking a good 20-25 mph now and I just hoped we’d find some more fish. We worked the area hard and didn’t see a whole lot, set up a few times but no more bites. We finally had about 30 minutes left and we came across a small pack of fish and sure enough we set up and hooked a nice 50 lber in a few minutes – this time the fish cooperated nicely and it was one we were able to fight from a dead boat and land for nice pics. We had a few minutes left and put them back out and sure enough we hooked another one right away and got that one too! So all in all a great morning for Rich landing 3 tarpon and getting 2 up for the picture. He was so excited we even got one mounted through Gray’s Taxidermy so that he can remember that for a long time!
Tarpon fishing has been up & down this off season but it’s definitely possible to catch them still. Some times you just have to be OK with striking out though for that possibility at a home run. Luckily today though it was closer to a grand slam!
Got out for 3 days with return client Rob and his buddies. Tarpon was the main focus. I had time to catch bait in the evening before our 3 days of fishing, which was good because bait has been a little tough to catch in the mornings in the backcountry when we normally catch it. Sometimes it’s available sometimes not, depends on the tides. But we had great fishing on day 1 with 7 or 8 tarpon bites and landing 2. We did catch a permit in the gulf later in the day as we had nice calm weather to run out there. The following day though the big school of fish was gone from that area. We spent an hour or so looking around and finally got into a small group of them and put a couple of them in the air but did not land one. After that we never had another bite all day we checked a few other areas and found a handful of fish but no response, though we did catch a couple big sawfish which was cool as well as some sharks. Day 3 we were totally out of our mullet and tried to catch them in the morning but didn’t have any luck. Saw some bait around but just hard to get a throw on. So we went fishing with our pinfish and found a few tarpon around early. After an hour or so of drifting and casting we did hook either a small tarpon or a large snook but unfortunately after a minute or so a big bull shark ate it. I was hesitant to put a lot of pressure on the fish as if it was a tarpon usually you need to go a little easy on them. But we did finish the day catching a couple permit in the gulf as conditions were good for that.
So right now tarpon fishing is as it has been most of the summer – hit & miss. If you have the bait it can be worthwhile but you may spend a lot of time looking around for fish. If you get lucky and find a big school you may have a banner day. I’m happy to take anglers who want to focus on tarpon though if it’s up to me, I’m usually recommending people to be open to other things and maybe just trying tarpon for a portion of the day for the time being.
Well August is nearing it’s end here. Had a busy week last week and now September is upon us and is usually the slowest month for business here with storm season being in full swing plus school starting. But not necessarily a bad time to fish, actually quite the opposite it can often be a fantastic month for fishing! The last week here we had pretty good fishing. The first couple days we did not really focus on tarpon but did happen to catch several. 3 small juveniles while snook fishing on Monday, and then Tuesday we caught 3 as well one juvenile, then a couple larger ones one on a pinfish and one on a mullet – funny 3 different baits and all produced tarpon (the first one ate pilchards which we were using for snook). Then Thursday we focused on tarpon the whole morning with the bigger rods and actually wasn’t quite as easy – sometimes it feels like when you go all in one them its hard, and when you are just not so focused on them sometimes they come easier! But we did have a couple bites and jumped off a large 100 lber, and at the end of the trip caught a nice 40-50 lber. But so it goes and needless to say there are tarpon still around here in the Islamorada area. A few reports from today I heard said that a few new groups of fish were out & about, so maybe this bodes well for September! Anyways as I said I am not super busy so if you are wanting to come down & fish I’ll likely have days available with shorter notice here for the next month or so. And I’ll shoot you straight if fishing seems like it’s not going to be good, I’m just as happy to stay home too! So drop me a line and make sure to sign up to my mailing list for when I open up my bookings for 2022, they’ll likely fill up fast.
I’ve still been getting out a fair bit, but not every day as we’re entering more ‘off season’ mode here. Tarpon fishing has still been hit & miss we never really got any consistent ‘red hot’ summer fishing though there has been fish around and if you put time in most days you get a few shots. But as of late I’ve been doing more snook fishing and other things, and just giving the tarpon a try for a little bit. I did have a couple of my last few trips yield big results too… yesterday we landed 4 tarpon in the last spot of the day after a great morning of snook fishing. Kind of unexpected but we just happened into them! And earlier this month I had a couple fishing with me who said they really wanted tarpon and of course I obliged, we gave it a shot first thing after not having a bite the previous two trips that we tried. But sure enough they were happy on this day and we landed 4 in the morning on that trip. So needless to say tarpon is still a definite possibility and will be until winter time and it starts to get cold. But when I’m not super confident in it I may recommend doing other things and not dedicated a ton of time to it, so then you still get to catch a variety of things and have a good day of fishing regardless. Though all that being said, we’ve had years where September and October are sometimes some of the best tarpon fishing we get all year. While I don’t think that will be the case this year (Late March through early June were tremendous for tarpon, just summer was a little slower than normal) it still may get better than it is now and worth dedicated the whole trip to again. But time will tell. Anyways if you are wanting to go fishing drop me a line, I have a little more short notice availability these days and I’m not pushing to fish super hard anyways. So I’ll shoot you straight as to what’s biting and do my best to make my anglers happy!