4 for 9 tarpon this am... Early Christmas for us!

4 for 9 tarpon this AM... all juvis

Best Xmas gift ever... 9 tarpon just a few days before Christmas. All juvis but I'll take it. Almost all were caught on live bait at various water levels. Caught 4 pretty dang big jacks also... maybe 12 pounders? Great time this am with pretty much non-stop action. We even had a double at one point. Big thanks to Michael for considering me again for a tarpon charter and a great job going 4 for 9 on the poons!


This is why we keep a fishing log... 2 for 2 on adult tarpon this AM

This is why we keep a fishing log... 2 for 2 on adult tarpon this AM.

I was checking back on the past few years' fishing logs and noticed a little trend I hadn't seen before. Set my alarm for 3AM, and headed out. Conditions were perfect... light/no wind, strong outgoing tide, and a couple others I'll keep to myself.  Got out to the spot and within 5 minutes I was hooked up on a solid 80 pounder. Of course he wrapped me around a piling and I thought for sure he was a goner... but opening the bail and a little outside the box thinking got it out from the piling to continue the fight. Got him to the boat for a quick release after about 25 minutes. This one was caught with a black Hogy original rigged Texas style with a 7/0 circle hook through the nose and a 1/4 oz bullet weight.
Caught my breath and idled back up to the spot. Saw a few rollers and made some good casts but no hook ups right away... until about 10 minutes later... this time I got into a 120 pounder that went clean through the pilings for me... thank goodness. Got her to the boat after a good 30 minute fight with quite a few jumps. I love these tarpon when the water cools off... they have so much more energy than when the water is 94 degrees in August. This fish was caught with a purple Hogy Pro Tail paddle in 2 oz.

Here's a situation where keeping a log really paid off. It only takes 5 minutes of your time when you get home from fishing to write down a few notes. Wind, recent temperature fluctuations, tide, moon, time of day, location, technique/lures used... anything of note.

Good luck out there... there's still tarpon around... for now.


1 for 2 tarpon and a slob snook tonight

1 for 2 tarpon tonight and slob 38" snook

Decided to see if this little warm front moved the fish back to where they were a couple weeks ago and went into Charlotte Harbor tonight in search of some tarpon. Go to the spot on a great incoming tide and 72 degree water temps. Pretty calm NE wind. First cast with a purple baitbuster and landed a ladyfish. Not a tarpon but I kept it for bait. Couple casts later, same thing. Couple casts later, same thing. Well I have 3 ladies in the baitwell now and a dead baitbuster (totally surprised it lasted 3 ladyfish... normally it's only one ever since they started making the lures out of wet paper bag). So now I know there's ladies here and I don't want to catch any more, but I figure tarpon might be eyeballing the ladies (if they're around)... so I switch to a big ole white Hogy paddle tail on a 1 oz Barbarian jig head. Get crushed about 5 casts in but missed it. Cast to the same spot and get pounded again... missed again. A few minutes later I saw a really big boil on the surface so I casted over it by about 20'... let the tide bring the Hogy back into it... BAM. Tarpon in the air! About a 50 pounder... got a couple jumps out of it but it broke the leader. Dang. Fished about an hour longer until my next fish... a 38" snook that was sitting on the bottom. This thing had a 20" girth! She was a pig. Caught on the big ole' white Hogy paddle tail. Released to go make more big shouldered line-siders.
Maybe 10 minutes later I see another big boil on the surface... repeat the same procedure as before... fish on! This one's a little smaller than the other but still a fun fish. 40 pounder. Fought for about 5 minutes and made a quick release.
Water temps are good, clarity is good, tides are good, catching tarpon and slobs is good... go fishing.


12 tarpon today

12 tarpon this am... and we got number 100 to the boat!

Man today was on fire... and it almost didn't happen. Here's the skinny: Got up at a decent time with no plans on getting some mullet since they didn't really work yesterday. Ran out to the spot with nice calm seas. Put out the trolling motor and put it on spot lock and threw some lures for awhile with nothing to show for it... didn't even see a roller... so now I'm thinking the fish moved on to a different spot and I'm going to have to run around to find them. Then another guy pulled up and was about to thow anchor close enough that a good toss could have gotten the anchor in my boat... and he was right where I've been casting for the last hour. So I politely ask if he'd rather just fish with me in my boat since we were so close... and he got what I was saying and backed away 30 yards. Still too close for me but I don't own the spot and I wasn't catching anything anyway. So I'm about to call it and start to troll out of there to see what's in the area when I spot the tarpon party... and they were on it. Got over there and proceeded to jump 12 in the next 3 hours... 2 adults, the rest juvis. One even jumped right in the boat, lol. Broke out the 3000 series Nacsi on a lightweight rod with 10# braid and had a blast with the juvis. All on artificials... and the bait of choice changed as the day went on.


8 Tarpon this morning

8 Tarpon this morning...

Got up about 5:30 this am to go get some bait... found a big pod of mullet and got what I needed with a single cast of the small 8' net I keep around for when I'm feeling lazy... like at 5:30 am by myself in the dark.
Ran out Stump Pass to a butter smooth gulf and headed south.
Got to the spot and saw quite a few rollers before I had my first bait on... within 10 minutes the first one was on, and within 10 seconds the first one was off... ha ha. Ended up jumping 7 more and got 2 to the boat. No big ones today... but still a ton of fun. The bite was good for an hour and turned off once the tide turned. Headed home, tried a couple more spots with nothing to show for it.

So that makes 99 tarpon to the boat so far this year, and 389 in the air. Still time to hit my goal of 500 for the year, but if this wind doesn't let up it surely won't happen. Time will tell I suppose.


PS... the water is still stained but it's getting clearer by the week... it's actually pretty clear outside of lemon bay... it's just really dark still.

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile... but we're almost to 400 tarpon!!!

It's been a few months since I posted in the reports section.  We've had some good times, some great times (mullet run), and some rough times (Hurricane Irma).  So far this year our tarpon tally is 97 for 381!  That's a heck of a lot of fish!  Although the large portion of migrating fish have left the area, there are still plenty of resident tarpon hanging around (if you know where to look).  We've jumped 5 the past two nights out, and both trips were cut short by the weather.  I still think 500 tarpon on the year is possible but only time will tell... less than 3 months to go.



2/4 tarpon, a few snook and some sharks

2/4 tarpon, a few snook, and some sharks

Good times today... got onto some juvi tarpon and went 2/4. 3 were on Hogys of different styles and one was on a pinfish. Got a few snook... again some on hogys and one on a pinfish. Then caught a few ladyfish to use for shark bait and ran two decent sharks before being broken off at the leader/wire leader connection on one of them. Ahh well... fun night for sure.


Response from "Wayne" about the fishing... and the dropped rod :)

Ha! You are the best! You'd think I never fished before but as I have relived the moment about 20 times over the weekend as my friend Paul has been busting my chops.....Here is what I think actually happened. 

I was standing on the front of the flats boat (Something I'm not used to) and as that first fish took off I was really surprised at how fast and how powerful it was. I was also surprised at how tight the drag was. I also was surprised that the fish almost pulled me off the boat and into the river. So, I decided to reach for the drag to back it off a little. At the same time, that Tarpon took off and again caught me off guard. Looking back on it, I don't think it "ripped" the rod out of my hand. I think it pulled me off balance so much that I was going for a swim. At that point, it was either me or the rod that was going for a swim! I really don't know for sure.

In either case it was a great night! 16 fish on and at least another 20+ bites that never quite hooked up. The next day we went out into the Gulf and couldn't stop talking about how much fun we had the night before. 

One other thing that happened later in the night was my friend Paul fighting a tarpon that hit about 3 feet from the boat. It makes its first jump and almost hits Paul in the face. Paul jumps back like a little girl and it makes its second jump almost hits him again and he almost fell over backwards. It was pretty funny to see a grown man almost get beat up by a Tarpon!

In either case we all had a great time and hope to do it again later this Summer or next Summer when we are in town.

Thanks for the great time Keith!

16 tarpon jumped... and a floating rod?

16 Tarpon jumped... and did you know that Redbone rods float?

Had a charter a couple nights ago and we got into em good... 16 tarpon in the course of 4 hours. They were hitting Hogy 7" and a couple other jigs... the darker the color the better. The real excitement came on fish #1 though... I'm not sure people go into this with a good understanding of just how hard a tarpon can pull... even a juvi. So about 10 seconds into the fight, tarpon #1 lays down the hammer and goes for a screaming run, which is awesome, except that angler #1... let's call him "Wayne"... wasn't expecting it and the tarpon yanked the rod out of his hand. Lol! So I'm in the boat watching a Smoke 50 with Hurricane Redbone go down in the water, I'm about to jump in to grab it but I realize I have the car keys and my phone in my pocket so I just watched the rod go by... then the amazing happened and the rod actually started to float! Apparently there's just enough cork on the handle and it came back up to the surface! So we troll over, "Wayne" grabs it... and I kid you not, the fish was still on! I swear! So "Wayne" starts fighting this fish again and we're all laughing and trying to record it... it was amazing! Probably the biggest roller coaster of emotions I've ever had on a boat lol.
Step 1 - Fish on... excitement! (especially the first tarpon of the night)
Step 2 - Rod in water... confusion (wtf just happened) followed by maybe a hint of anger (I can't believe this googan just dropped my $300 rod in the water!!! )
Step 3 - Rod floating... hope (we might actually get this thing back)
Step 4 - Rod in hand ... relief
Step 5 - Fish on!?!? ... OMG THIS IS THE CRAZIEST!!!

Lol... I wish I had the whole thing on video. Good times.

Oh and I disassembled and greased up the Smoke 50 and all is right with the world. It needed a cleaning anyway. 


Read more: http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?245159-16-Tarpon-jumped-and-did-you-know-that-Redbone-rods-float#ixzz4jitdukI4

Caught my first tarpon on fly!

Caught my first tarpon on fly!

Last week I had a couple guests on the boat and they did an awesome job with the tarpon on fly... so of course I had to break down and go buy a fly rod. Now typically I'm the type that will buy once, cry once, and get good gear... but in this case I wanted to make sure it was something I liked before I blew a bunch of money on it... so I bought literally the cheapest fly gear known to man. I got a 10wt Ugly Stik (I wish I was kidding) rod, and a Okuma SLV... got them both for under $100 shipped. Lol. Well anyway... now that you know I'm using pretty lousy gear, I got to use it tonight. Here's the setup:
Very light winds. Good thing because as you can imagine I'm lousy with a fly rod. Water was very smooth... glass minnows all over... tarpon slurping them up on the shadow line... perfect for me! Started throwing it around and it started to come back to me from when I fly fished for smallies up north. About 10 minutes in I got a good hit and jumped my first tarpon! Probably a 15 pounder but whatever... I'll take it. Then another 10 minutes I jumped another... maybe a 30 pounder. I'm starting to get the hang of this I think... then I got this 40 pounder to the boat. Happy days out on the water tonight!


Oh PS... I did jump another 5 using spinning gear. Didn't land a single one. 

7 for 21 tarpon in 4 hours!

7 for 21 tarpon tonight... 4 for 7 on fly

I'm seeing a shiny new 10 wt in my future...
We fished the bottom half of the huge outgoing today and just wrecked the tarpon. From start til stop we averaged a fish in the air every 12 minutes. Non-stop laughing and hollering all night. All the fish were juvis from 30-45 lbs but man on light tackle they're a blast. I was a little concerned what the front was going to do with all the fish... but it seems that it made them hungry. Most fish were hooked on Hogy arti's tonight, with the exception of the 7 jumped on fly of course. We even had a couple of doubles tonight... man what a blast.
The fly rod was on fire when it was being used... it usually wasn't any more than 4-5 casts before it hooked up... and the landing ratio was about 60% vs 20% on the jigs. I'm going fly rod shopping... I don't think my 6 wt is going to cut it.


56 Tarpon in one week!!! And a young man I'll never forget.

56 tarpon in one week... and a young man I'll never forget

Well this past week proved to be a good one. A new personal record was set with 56 tarpon put in the air throughout the week during 5 charters. We covered a lot of ground... hitting all of the usual spots in Charlotte Harbor, Myakka River, Peace River, Boca Grande, Placida, and more. Some late nights and some double charters ending at 5:30AM. Some early season scouting paid off also as we jumped quite a few tarpon in some not-so usual spots. Hogy lures were the go-to lure this week, but some tarpon were had on shrimp, crabs, mullet, and others. Some days were calm, some of them we got a little wet... ok a lot wet. But at the end of the night we were talking about the drag running and the aerial show we just got done watching.
I will say though, without question, that my favorite charter this week was Tony and his big brother Ken. Tony and Ken were introduced to me through the Big Brothers and Big Sisters club of Englewood, and I had the honor of taking them out this morning and jumping 3 adult tarpon with them. Guys, I'm not saying this to make myself seem like I'm doing something special here because I'm not... but if you can spare the time please consider being a big brother or big sister to a young boy or girl. Tony has an amazing story to share and I feel so privileged to have met him... I hope I was able to show him and his big brother as good of a time as they were inspirational to me. Hug your mom, dad, son or daughter... and share your passions and joys with them... you just never know when you won't be able to do it again. 

Now go catch some tarpon!!!


Read more: http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?243099-56-tarpon-in-one-week-and-one-catch-I-ll-never-forget#ixzz4ffDjeVQn

11 tarpon jumped

They are getting here in some numbers now.  Two nights ago we jumped 11 tarpon, with 5 coming to the boat.  It was an action packed night with big tarpon slurping up crabs and shrimp all around us.  This was one of those nights I'll never forget.  What a great time.


It's getting warmer!

I was sitting around today after Bob Evans' finest Easter meal... thinking about taking nap #2 for the day (#1 was at the beach with a Corona in my hand).  I decided to see if the weatherman was right about the winds or not and decided to go out to Placida to see if there were any tarpon roaming around.  The weatherman was wrong.  Winds were moderate but from the NW instead of the E like he was showing, so the water was easy to cruise in.  Tarpon were all over... but mostly medium/small ones.  I only saw a few big girls and I couldn't get them to eat... but the others... well they were hungry.  I fished for about an hour with nothing to show for it... then just as if somebody had flipped a switch the bite turned on.  I jumped 3 fish on 4 casts, each of them coming unbottoned.  Then I hooked one and got it to the boat... a 30 pounder.   Then another... this one was a little bigger and made a couple good runs but still no adult.  As I was getting it close to the boat it pulled a little drag, and then I sat and smiled as I listened to the drag ripping out of my reel.  Then I realized that the one in my hand wasn't losing drag at all... it was the one in the rod holder!  D'oh!  A double.  I watched the one in the rod holder to see if it was going to stop pulling drag and luckily it did.  So I quickly released the one on the rod in my hand (roughly a 40 pounder) and swapped rods to get the one in the holder in.  This one was also about  a 40 pounder and after a pretty short fight I had it boatside and released.  Lol... that was fun.  I wish I had it on video.  Ended up going 4 for 8 on the night after starting 0 for 3.  It was a fun night... hopefully tomorrow night is even better.


1 for 3 in Placida, then a skunk, then 1 for 4

Placida proved to be a good spot for some tarpon action last week as we went one for 3 on fish around the 50-60 pound mark during a good outgoing tide.  

This past week's warm front really raised the water temperature and when we had a night with a break in the wind we went for it in Charlotte Harbor... only to be skunked.  We saw a few roll but we just couldn't get any to commit.  Total bummer but unfortunately it happens on occasion.

Last night we had another break in the wind and fished the Peace River, and we were rewarded with 4 tarpon in the air and one coming to the boat.  3 of them were between 20-40 pounders and the one I really wanted to see boatside was around 90 pounds... but she had other plans.  Ahh well... glad to see the fish are still hanging around during this cold front we're going through.



2 big tarpon and a snookasaurus

Had Matt, Eric, and Casey for guests tonight.
Got to the spot and within 15 minutes one adult tarpon was jumped by Casey using pinfish. Thought for sure he was coming into the boat but after about a 5 minute battle another good fish fell victim to the outboard. Makes me want to cry. 
Shortly after that one Matt hooked up on another adult tarpon... this time on a 7" Hogy. He got a few jumps out of him and a couple good runs before spitting the hook. Ahh well...
We messed around for a bit while the tide was dying and didn't do well except Matt hooked up on the fattest 34" snook I've ever seen. (I'll post a pic tomorrow that doesn't do this fish any justice). That girl had some juice and made some long runs... also caught on a 7" Hogy.

Fun night... we were all happy with 2 adult tarpon and a fat snook in March.


5 Tarpon tonight

Decided to go try my luck at Lemon Bay again tonight since it was good to us a few nights ago and it was even better tonight. We ended up jumping 5 tarpon... 4 were 50 pounders and one was about 25-30. We had one of them to the boat and I was about to start to try to grab it but the leader frayed. That was a bummer but it was still a solid 10 minute fight for John's first tarpon. The next one was hooked solid but it ended up jumping perfectly as it got below the outboard and bent the hook as the leader hit the skeg that was already out of the water. That was a tough one to watch but nothing could have been done about it. Overall though we had a blast... 5 tarpon in early March is a hoot. Had one 26" snook, a small 12" trout, a few jacks and ladies also. Great times... tarpon season is heating up. Once this cold front passes mid-week we should be home free for the big migration. Can't wait!


Tarpon Party in the Keys!

Well I took my annual Keys Tarpon trip this past weekend with visions of silver clouding my brain for the past two months. We stay in Key Largo for a long weekend every year around this time with hopes of timing some warm weather and the impending tarpon migration. Well we nailed it this year. Daytime air temps were touching 79 degrees and the water temp was holding between 75 and 77. And there were tarpon. A LOT of tarpon. I won't get into all the play by play details but here's the Cliff's Notes: 
In three nights of fishing we jumped 37 tarpon, 14 were landed. Out of the 37 all but two were over 50 pounds. I would estimate that at least 25 of them were over 80 pounds.
Out of the 37 jumped only one was hooked using live bait. So 36 tarpon were jumped on artificials. 5 of them were jumped using baitbusters and the rest were jumped using Hogy lures. The vast majority were caught on 7" and 9" eels... but a few were caught on 7" paddle tails. Black, white, and purple were the colors of choice in no particular order. The bigger 10/0 VMC Barbarian hooks seemed to have a better landing ratio than the 6/0... especially on the 100+ pound fish.

Tip I learned from this trip: Charge your camera BEFORE you get out on the water. Bring a charger that actually works for the camera you brought.  Sorry guys... all my pictures are terrible. I brought a good DSLR camera with me with hopes of getting some good footage but I failed miserably. 

Shouldn't be long and we will be getting the tarpon migration up here. Can't wait. 


Wait... did I just see a white butterfly?

Wait... did I just see a white butterfly?

I know there's straggler white butterflies that show up from time to time... but I saw one this weekend. Oh... and about 150 tarpon roll too! 4 hits but not a single hook up.  I had some beautiful bait too... thought for sure I'd be getting dragged around by a tarpon for a while but no dice. Bring on the warm weather!


A little action this week

A little action this week

We had some good tides this week and the weather held pretty steady (except for the Thursday winds).  Fishing was "OK" but nothing exceptional.  During trips this week there were several snook caught in the low 30" range, and a few slot sized ones... but no real big numbers.  We did jump a couple of tarpon one night, so that's always a treat.  Water temperature has been holding around 69-72 degrees.  I can't wait for spring, the warmer waters, the white butterflies and the impending tarpon migration.  Just a few more months!