Florida is often referred to as the "Fishing Capital of the World." And for good reason. The state is home to hundreds of different fish species, which is a big part of the reason why about 3 million anglers flock to Florida each year.
Fishing for tarpon in Florida is one of the best ways to spend a fishing trip to the state. Tarpon feeding in the Florida Keys can also be a great time, but Florida Keys tarpon fishing is really where it's at.
Would you like to take part in the best tarpon fishing in Florida to see what all the hype is about? Before you sign up for one of the many Florida tarpon fishing charters, you should learn more about fishing for this unique fish species.
Today, we're going to break down what it'll be like fishing for tarpan in the Florida Keys and some other parts of Florida. We're also going to help answer important questions like, "When is tarpon season in Florida?"
Keep reading to discover more about fishing for tarpon in Florida and then pack your waterproof floating phone case and head down to the state for some fun.
What Are Tarpons?
If you'd like to try tarpon fishing in Florida, it would be a good idea for you to get a sense of what makes tarpons so special first. There is a reason why so many people head to Florida for tarpon fishing and even tarpon feeding in the Florida Keys every year.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, tarpons have been around since prehistoric times. They can grow to be up to 8 feet long and can reach nearly 300 pounds in some cases.
Tarpons have also earned the nickname "Silver King" because of how active they can be when you get them on the end of your line. They're known to jump up to 10 feet high in the air when they come up out of the water, and they also have gills that they'll rattle around almost like a rattlesnake would.
Tarpons are found in various parts of the world, including off the coasts of Brazil and Africa. But many set up shop in the waters right off the coast of Florida.
Why Is the Best Tarpon Fishing in Florida?
Tarpons could theoretically survive in many different parts of the world, but as we just mentioned, the majority of them choose to live in the waters around the Florida coast. Why? Well, it has a lot to do with the temperature of the water in the area.
Tarpons prefer to live in waters that are somewhere between 74 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. And that's where water temperatures tend to stay in Florida almost all the time.
This would help explain why tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys and many of the surrounding areas is so plentiful. You shouldn't have any trouble finding tarpon in the water in Florida as long as you head down to the state to fish at the right times.
When Is the Florida Tarpon Fishing Season?
The good news for anyone who is planning to fish for tarpon in Florida is that you're going to be able to find them in the water there year-round. Since the water temperature remains on the warmer side, tarpons won't usually migrate anywhere else.
You will, however, have more luck trying to catch tarpon in the Florida Keys and other areas at certain times of the year. The spring and summer are typically the best times to go fishing for tarpon. But the exact tarpon season in Florida will depend on where you would like to go fishing.
Where Are the Best Places to Go During the Florida Tarpon Season?
The tarpon season in the Florida Keys isn't always the same as the tarpon season in Boca Raton. There will be some times that will be better for tarpon fishing in Florida than others based on where you plan to fish.
Here is a breakdown of the ideal tarpon season in some of the best places to fish for tarpon in Florida:
- Upper and Middle Florida Keys: Mid-march to mid-July
- Lower Keys: May through July
- Key West Harbor: January through March
- Everglades National Park: March through July
- Everglades to the Panhandle: May and June
- Apalachicola Bay: June through August
- Biscayne Bay: January through June
You're more than welcome to go fishing for tarpon in Florida in any location you want. But you should try to pick a location where the tarpon are in season to get the best results.
What Bait Should Be Used to Fish for Tarpons?
When you go fishing for tarpon in Florida, you're free to use either live bait or lures. Both can put you in a good position to reel in the biggest tarpon possible.
If you're going to use live bait, these will be your best options:
If you're going to use artificial lures, these will be your best choices:
- Gator spoons
- Rapala Magnum
- Mirrolure 65M or 77M
- Texas Rigged plastic worms
Either way, one thing you should keep in mind as you fish for tarpons is that you're going to need to have extremely sharp hooks on your line. It can be tricky trying to reel in tarpons without the sharpest hooks possible.
How Can You Catch Tarpons?
Getting a tarpon to nibble on your bait and take it can be immensely challenging. It's at least part of the reason why fishing for tarpon in Florida can be so rewarding. Many anglers will settle for getting tarpon to take their bait momentarily and jump out of the water even if they aren't able to reel them all the way in.
But there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of catching a tarpon. Here are some tips that will help you out:
- Sharpen your fishing hooks as best you can before heading out on Florida tarpon fishing charters
- Resist the urge to jerk your line when you first feel a tarpon on the end of it
- Give a tarpon time to nibble on your bait prior to trying to set your hook
Because tarpons are so large, you might be tempted to try to reel one in the second you see or feel it taking your bait. But it isn't always that easy to set the hook, so you'll need to learn how to be patient when fishing for tarpon in Florida.
You'll also need to be prepared to put up a good fight if you're able to snag one. Tarpons are going to jump up out of the water early and often and shake their gills to try to get themselves free.
Your best bet is going to be to continue to tussle with a tarpon until it wears itself out and can't fight back against you anymore. At that point, you should be able to reel it in closer to your boat.
While you're going through all of this, you'll want to be careful not to drop your fishing pole or any of your other equipment over the side of your boat. You'll also want to have your smartphone tucked away in something like this floating phone case to protect it. It'll make it easy for you to whip your phone out so that you can take a photo of a tarpon if you're lucky enough to catch it.
What Are the Rules for Tarpon Fishing in Florida?
You will, unfortunately, not be able to catch a tarpon and take it home with you. Tarpons are one of the fish that must be caught and released only in Florida.
There is one exception to this rule. If you're attempting to break an IGFA world record, you can invest in a tarpon tag. But you will have to pay $50 for this tag in advance, and you'll only be able to buy one of these tags per year.
The fact that you won't be able to take a tarpon home with you shouldn't diminish all the fun you'll have fishing for one at all. But you should be careful about not breaking any rules while fishing for tarpon in Florida since it could lead to you facing fines and other possible penalties.
Try Tarpon Fishing and Tarpon Feeding in the Florida Keys
Florida isn't the only place where you'll see tarpon. You can find tarpon in other parts of the world if you'd like.
But tarpon fishing and tarpon feeding in the Florida Keys are second to none. You'll get the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime when you see what the best tarpon fishing in Florida has to offer.
Would you like to learn more about some of the other gear you might want to bring with you while tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys and other areas? Shop for it here.