Well we had a few calmer days after the last cold front and slowly the water temps had been getting more & more in ‘tarpon’ range. That’s usually 73ish degrees or so to have an OK shot. I fished a couple days before this and we had given the tarpon a try both days but it was still on the chilly side (71 degrees) and both days we didn’t see a ton of tarpon, a handful no doubt but not the hundreds & hundreds we like to see on flat calm spring conditions. Anyways on this day we found the mother load – thousands of tarpon airing out as far as you could see, and marking groups of 6, 8, 10 fish at a time coming by the boat occasionally. We first drifted in to an area with a crab and pilchard out on the surface, and sure enough our crab got sucked off within 5 minutes! We got tight on whatever it was and got a munched up crab back so we didn’t get the hook in them – possibly a permit which was on our wish list but definitely could’ve been a tarpon too. Anyways after that we caught a nice cobia on a pilchard, and then we focused on tarpon more. Had to jump around and stay with the schools of fish but we wound up getting a half dozen bites, not able to keep the hooks in them really good but finally we did stick one. That one went through the leader on us early but then later on we got one that we got to the boat and up boatside for pictures. A few more jumped off but it was pretty good action plus plenty of sharks to keep us busy. The winds were flat early on but they picked up as the day went on getting to 10-15 out of the north which is breezy in the backcountry. But the tarpon didn’t seem to mind though the next couple days over the weekend it blew 25 and got slightly chillier so it may have shut them off temporarily but I think the next calm day or at least light southeasterly wind day it’ll be game on again! So I’m thinking it’ll be an early start to the season as is the usual case in recent years. February can offer some great opportunities plus you still get plenty of other options as well. I’ve just opened my fishing dates for myself personally through May, so if you want to get something on the calendar I suggest doing so ASAP as I’m only fishing 3 days a week myself. Though all my other captains are available for advanced bookings whenever available.
I am honoring my old 2022 rates for February as well so another good reason to come early! However starting in March I’m going to a new rate, only offering full day bookings, and am reserving the right to bring along either my camera guy or one of my mates in training. Though for the added cost there are some perks such as getting cool video content that I can share with you as well as often create a YouTube video for our channel if we get good enough content. Obviously having a mate is helpful onboard too if thats the case. And also being I’m only fishing a limited number of days each week, I often (not guaranteed!) can move days around if the weather is bad or something else comes up – as this is often hard to do in season since everyone is so busy and booked every day. So you can look at it as a little bit of added insurance. So let’s go fishing and if you have a dream of catching a trophy tarpon and getting it mounted lemme know too!
Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina