Florida's Best Tarpon Fishing Spots | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
Trips
A man holding a large tarpon in his kayak. Photo by Eric Henson

East Vs West battle for the best Tarpon grounds.

Tarpon are one of the most revered gamefish on earth. They jump, run, dive and charge, pulling all the tricks out of the hat.These tricksters manage to spit the hook or break the line about seventy-percent of the time. That's if you’re even lucky enough to get a bite since tarpon are famous for ignoring everything in the tackle box. The payoff is one of the most spectacular battles in fishing with one of the most impressive fish in the sea. Many anglers focus on big tarpon, up to 200 pounds, but our sharpies target juvenile ‘poons in the heat of summer. Whether you’re fishing Florida’s east coast or west coast, these tarpon guides have you covered. 

Find the world's best boats and gear with the Rapid Media's Paddling Buyer's Guide

WEST COAST

ANGLER: Eric Hensen (shown above), Old Town pro, www.castingkayaks.com

LOCATION: Sarasota, Florida

FIND THE FISH: Look for structure like deadfalls. When I snag on submerged tree limbs, I expect to get hooked up.

WEATHER AND WATER: Chocolate brown water. Both low oxygen and visibility attract summer tarpon. Falling tide and low light are best. Be sure to fish a hot summer night right after a rain shower.

TACTICS: Spot rolling tarpon and anchor the kayak just inside casting distance. The fish are easy to spook. Make a long cast and land the lure past the fish. Start with a slow retrieve then speed up the action. When I find the depth where fish are feeding, I repeat the same retrieve.

ROD AND REEL: Seven-foot, medium-heavy spinning rod and a 4000-class reel.

LINE AND LEADER: 20-pound braided line with 30-pound leader.

LURES AND BAIT: Monster 3X 2 1/4-inch Ultra Soft or -Move jig, Yo-Zuri lipped lures

TIPS AND TRICKS: Land juvenile tarpon with a rubber-mesh net; a lip gripper will damage the tarpon’s mouth. Do not hold the fish vertically by the lip. Only keep the tarpon out of the water for a limited time.

tarpon town 2
Get ready for the fight of your life. Photo by Dee Kaminski

EAST COAST

ANGLER: Dee Kaminski, Native Watercraft pro guide, www.reelkayakfishing.com

LOCATION: Mosquito, Banana and Indian River Lagoons

FIND THE FISH: Backwater creeks and residential canals around dock pilings or a creek mouth. On a calm day, the fish move out into the open, but when it gets windy they retreat to the back of the canal or under the dock. Look for tarpon rolling and gulping air.

WEATHER: Overcast, calm days. Early mornings and late afternoons are best.

TACTICS: Cast into the docks or deadfall. Learn to read the roll. If the fish make a slow roll, cast in front of its back and keep the lure on the surface. If it makes a quick roll, land the lure four feet ahead and work through the middle of the water column. A tail splash means the fish is feeding deep, let the lure drop to the bottom.

ROD AND REEL: Medium-heavy, seven-foot spinning rod with 3500 series reel with enough backbone and drag pressure to pull a tarpon out of the structure.

LINE AND LEADER: 20-pound braid with three feet of 30-pound fluorocarbon.

LURES AND BAITS: Paddletails rigged weedless on a 1/16-ounce, 4/0 blood-red weedless hook. 1/16-ounce Buggs Bonefish lure. If you're fishing bait, choose the biggest shrimp you can find and rig on a 2/0 circle hook.

TIPS AND TRICKS: Bow to the silver king. When a tarpon leaps out of the water, point the rod tip at the fish, straighten your arms and slack the line to keep the hook from falling out.

Enter Your Email

Related items

  • How To Pop Flies For Panfish

    How To Pop Flies For Panfish

    For the past 15 years, Cory "Ruthless" Routh has been teaching people to fly fish and taking them fly fishing. Routh has brought countless anglers into the fold as author of Kayak Fishing: The Complete…

    Read more...

  • Boat Review: Innova Kayak Halibut

    Boat Review: Innova Kayak Halibut

    Inflatable kayaks are blowing up on the kayak fishing scene as more anglers realize they can transport, store and use these boats almost anywhere. To meet the need, designers are developing stiffer…

    Read more...

  • How To Catch Giant River Bass

    How To Catch Giant River Bass

    Remember grade school geography class? If you're like me, you were staring out the window dreaming of big bass while the teacher was droning on about the coastal plain, piedmont and fall…

    Read more...

  • Why You Should Be Fishing At Night

    Why You Should Be Fishing At Night

    Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean the fish aren't hungry. Red drum, largemouth and striped bass are ready to party all night long. These fish are programmed to feed…

    Read more...

  • How To Rig Your SUP For Travel Fly Fishing

    How To Rig Your SUP For Travel Fly Fishing

    If you’re a SUP angler, your dream job is to jet-set around the world, fish the most exciting places for the most exciting fish and get paid for it. You’d be dreaming of Damon…

    Read more...

  • Sturgeon Fishing In Portland Oregon

    Sturgeon Fishing In Portland Oregon

    When I think of Portland, Oregon, I think of a cold, wet, dreary concrete jungle with hipsters sloshing between gourmet breweries and Avantegarde concerts. I’ve never associated the city with fishing. Since…

    Read more...

Popular Articles

FREE NEWSLETTER

Join 30 000+ fellow anglers! Get the latest fishing news and special offers delivered straight to your inbox.  

 

 

Free Issues