It’s that time of year in Tampa where the Tarpon begin to show up in numbers. Starting in May and usually lasting most of Summer, Tampa anglers flock to Tampa Bay for some epic battles with the “Silver King”.
Why are Tarpon in Tampa?
This question contains two answers. Due to its climate and location, the ecology of Tampa Bay offers residence to many “resident” Tarpon all year round. Though they may not be very active during cold fronts and cooler temps, they are there. It acts as an estuary for juvenile tarpon, while other bigger fish roam this area as a permanent home. Whether on spin or fly tackle, many residents of Tampa usually have tarpon in their sites (or on their minds) when heading out on the water.
The second part of this is the peak season. This is during the early summer months and is due in large part to the annual migration of this species. Tarpon flock up the west coast of Florida every year, and then make a return trip some months later. Sprinkle in some stragglers in both directions, and you can almost expect 6 months of pretty solid Tarpon fishing attempts. These migratory schools are chasing down water temps and working towards chasing bait fish who are doing the same.
The Nitty Gritty of Tampa Tarpon Fishing
When Tarpon show up in the migratory sense into Tampa, anglers can expect fish ranging in the 70-150lb range. However, the beasts among them can reach up to 250lbs! I can tell you now, that’s a battle you WILL NOT forget. The schools themselves can range in numbers anywhere from 5 to 50 fish. You can’t miss seeing the rollers all clumped up at the waters surface, or when the monstrous explosion happens in the middle of a school of mullet or other bait fish whose demise was decided as soon as they decided to cross paths with these fish.
Anglers can target these fish on a variety of setups. Some flats or inshore guys prefer targeting smaller Tarpon on smaller gear. However, for most going out for a day of Tarpon fishing, 50lb setups are not uncommon. This is in part due to needing the heavy tackle to keep the fish on, as well as being responsible in the act of Tarpon fishing by being able to bring the fish in fast for a quick release. The shorter the battle and the faster the release, the more of a chance that fish will swim away and prep for battle again another day.
Let’s Do It!
To get out for the first time and go after some Tampa Tarpon a local guide is highly recommended. These guys spend everyday on the water in Tampa Bay, target these fish yearly, and can get you on some in both a productive and safe manner. After that, you might just run out and get your own Tarpon fishing boat, but until then – stick with a pro.
In this, check out this local Captain at FishnFl.com. Capt Jason Dozier is a local guide who has both the skills and equipment to get you on these bad boys of shallow water. Here is his contact info, if you hurry you might even get a spot for this year – it’s hopping right now!
Trip Details here