Tarpon Angling Tips

This is a brief synopsis of how you should hook and fight a tarpon.  We use multiple different tactics and I’ll try to cover at least the ones we use most of the time.  I walk all my anglers through a lot of this stuff, however if you read about it ahead of time it will give you an upper hand.

Live Mullet Fishing

My personal favorite, there is nothing quite like watching a live mullet jump and run for his life as a big 100 lb tarpon tries to eat him 30 feet behind the boat!  I generally like to fish J-hooks with live mullet as often the tarpon grab them at all kinds of different angles and the bait flips and flops all over, so you really need to be ready and set the hook appropriately.  Basically we are usually fishing a bobber with a 6-8 foot leader with a mullet on the end.  In some cases we may not fish a bobber at all, though it won’t really effect what you do to hook your fish.  Most of the time you will see the mullet get nervous and zip around quickly if a tarpon is nearby.  If one is actively trying to eat him he will often jump and flip out of the water.  If you see this happen just sit tight and be ready – dont do anything to soon.  All too often anglers start reeling, jerking, and all kinds of things before the fish has had a chance to eat the bait.  If the tarpon busts him and misses him (which they usually do), often you can just slowly and steadily lift your rod tip very high to straighten your line out, then drop your tip low again.  This will also throw the mullet off balance making him easier to get for the tarpon, and when the tarpon comes back you will be able to reel and ‘get tight’ on him much quicker as you’ve gotten the slack out of the line.  Just wait for him to come back. If you think a tarpon has eaten your bait, wait until you feel pressure (a pull) on the line.  When this happens the tarpon has eaten him – reel as fast as you can and lift your rod tip up to a 45 degree angle.  It is VERY important to REEL first as that is going to start the hook to set in his bony jaw.   If you just jerk right away, often the hook will bounce right off the bony jaw…  

Capt. Rick Stanczyk