Tarpon can be targeted typically from April through October and occasionally can be caught later in the fall depending on the water temperatures. There are some resident tarpon in certain areas that can be caught all year round. Tarpon are a unique fish, in that they can tolerate a wide range of salinity and also can be caught in freshwater. They have an ability to survive in oxygen depleted waters due to their ability to gulp air and use that stored air to provide them with sufficient oxygen. Tarpon are a tropical inshore species that prefer the shallow waters of the estuaries and mangrove shorelines. Because of their ability to “roll” and gulp air, they can be found year round in the back county and in the creeks and canals.
Juvenile tarpon typically range from 1 to 40 pounds. They spend a lot of their time back in creeks and canals much like redfish and small snook. When they become much larger as they mature they will move out of the canals and onto the inshore waters to the near shore water off the beaches. They are a migratory species and typically run down the coasts of Florida from May to October. The adults can reach lengths of 7 feet and weigh in excess of 150 to 250 pound giants.
These high flying acrobatic fish are always exciting to have on the line. They hit hard, pull hard, and jump every which way. It is not uncommon to hook a dozen fish and only land 1 or 2, especially when they reach adult hood. Typical forage for tarpon are small bait fish, finger mullet, glass minnows, and other types of fish fry. They also are big crustacean eaters such as shrimp and crab. They can be caught on artificial as well as live bait. They are incredibly fun to catch on a fly rod and often will take a fly when other methods of catching them are not working.
Their numbers have greatly improved since the freeze of 2010 to a point where they can be targeted on a regular basis in certain areas. If you are looking for some fun light tackle fishing I highly recommend trying to target these incredible fish!
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