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Summer Tarpon?Giant tarpon are providing major thrills the past week. Feeding frenzies of tarpon marauding schools of menhaden, threadfin herring and glass minnows is the seen one-day. On the next the spots seems void and vacant. Is it though?
There is much speculation and theory on why the fish have not been showing on the surface this summer. Most have written the fish off till they can find them again in the worlds most famous locations next year. For those who are true tarpon guides that have dedicated their lives to these fish on a daily basis and over many years, the productive tarpon fishing continues.
The beauty of summer tarpon fishing compared to spring fishing is the fact that summer fish are here to feed and spring fish are here in relation to their spawning rituals. Anyone who has fished the silver king knows that a large school worked for hours does not necessarily mean fish in the air in the spring. Find the fish in the summer and break out the Ben Gay.
In the past week my clients have witnessed large schools of tarpon slicing, gulping and free jumping in the potpourri of bait just feet from the boat. The frenzies lasted upwards of two hours. I have fished for tarpon in many ways and places at different times of the year, for many years. I have watched these fish in the wild do many things. I find nothing more fascinating then these summer fish (up to 150lbs.) fired up like Michael Jordan in a championship game. Plugs, jigs and corked live bait have got the bite in most cases. However, in some situations there is so much bait, getting a bite is much like playing the lottery.
Then of course there are the days we do not see any fish on top all day. It seems it is not gonna be a good summer and the fish just are not around. Time for plan B. The most productive method for catching summer tarpon is soaking fresh menhaden. By working around traditional summer spots that include dredge holes, channel edges, deep flats and hard bottom, eventually you will find that the fish are actually there. Not only are they there in catchable numbers, but they are biting!
The best spots are not well known. The early tarpon pioneers originally founded them some 40 to 50 years ago. These honey holes are knowledge passed down, shared and acquired through tournament anglers both then and now. The best locations are quiet and unpressured, a rare quality in the 21st Century. The fishing can be downright hot with 6-hour trips producing as many as 5 fish landed just this week. While everyday is different, this type of productivity equals Boca Grande on even its best of days.
While slinging shad is a far cry from stalking fish in clear water, with the Florida sun overhead and flyrod in hand, you can not ignore the action and the surroundings. Its a laid back style of fishing. One you can kick back and enjoy a cold drink, beat the summer fishing doldrums and catch giant tarpon.
Summer tarpon fishing in the Bay is more than drifting a threadfin through the pilings of the Sunshine Skyway(if they are there). It is a craft of a few who spend countless hours scouring the Bay for fish. Hours spent on both daily charters and days off on reconnaissance missions. The location of these spots and the shad is closely guarded secrets of the few true tarpon guides. With so many guides now claiming and advertising "native", "25 years experience" and "full time" finding productive summer tarpon guides can be a challenge. The truth of the matter is those who are not being an honest Abe are getting whipped like a redheaded stepchild on a near daily basis when and if they fish (where ever they may be). Read between the lines of fluff and hype. Tarpon season is not over yet fellas.
Screaming drags and tired arms!!!
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