BOCA GRANDE TARPON FISHING
BOCA GRANDE PASS
There is nowhere and nothing in the world like Tarpon fishing at the Boca Grande Pass. Seeing the numbers of tarpon in the tens to hundreds of thousands is something you have to see with your own eyes.
The Boca Grande Pass is a waterway at the mouth of the Charlotte Harbor between Gasparilla Island and Caya Costa Island.
The pass connects Charlotte Harbor to the Gulf of Mexico. Comprising of deep holes, hills and flats “The Pass” is the deepest natural pass in Florida with an average depth of 80 feet. The Boca Grande Pass is said to be the home of the largest migration of tarpon in the world. This migration which occurs every year starts in late April or early May and continues till June or July.The “Silver King” come to “The Pass” on their way to spawn and while they are here they are constantly eating which means that when you put your bait in the water, there is an excellent chance that they will take it and give you a run of a lifetime.
The Boca Grande Pass is like the Super Bowl of Tarpon fishing. There are plenty of tournaments that bring the best anglers to pit themselves against these awesome fish, but there is still plenty of room for regular fishing tours like Native Salt Fishing Charters to get you onto the fish.
There are a few things to mention about fishing in Boca Grande Pass. First, along with the thousands and thousands of tarpon, there are also many, many sharks. Hammerhead and Bull sharks abound in the pass. As you reel in your conquest after a long hard fight, the fish is exhausted, as are you, and it is vulnerable to predators. So even if you hook onto a great fish, there is still a possibility that you will not get to reel it all the way into the boat.
Also, I would recommend planning your fishing charter on the weekdays. During the weekends there are multiple tournaments and there can be over a hundred boats. During the weekdays there are fewer boats and it makes for a much calmer and relaxing day of fishing. No matter what time of year or day you want to go on your trip Captain Justin and the crew at Native Salt Fishing will get you on the fish and take you on a day you will never forget.
CATCHING TARPON IN BOCA GRANDE PASS
Ask any fisherman what the best way to catch one of these beautiful fish is and it will spark an argument. That is because no one can say what the best way is, but there are a few methods for reeling in the “Silver King.”
Live bait on medium-heavy spinning gear or conventional gear is a very popular way to catch them. Live bait like pinfish, pilchards, threadfish, mullet and crab can be used depending on the time of day and what the fish are eating at that time but having a live-wells packed with some of these will increase your chances of having the fish bite. Crab is especially a great bait during the “Hill Tides” when there are so many crabs in the water the tarpon are in a feeding frenzy that the chances of a few crabs baited on hooks will get eaten too. The “Hill Tides” occur two days before and two days after the full moon and new moon phases. During that time the tides sweep millions of crab into the pass in an area known as the hill. These crabs are easy pickings for the tarpon and soon there is a feeding frenzy. Having live crab as bait during this time will get you on the fish and it is not unheard of to land three or four fish in a few hours fishing.
Another method is trolling the bottom with dead bait like mullet heads and bodies fished on the bottom. When fighting with a tarpon there is a method that you need to use called “bowing to the fish.” This method helps decrease the odds of the hook being spit or pulled out from violent shakes and also the odds of the line breaking. To bow to the fish when it jumps out of the water, you need to hold the rod tip down in the direction of the fish. This takes some of the pressure off the line and then as soon as the fish goes back in the water you can reel in the tension but get ready to do this over and over again as tarpon put on some of the best aerial acts and do them often.
TARPON ARE AGGRESSIVE FIGHTERS
Tarpon are the most sought after inshore game fish. They are world-class fighters and guaranteed excitement. Tarpon are the meanest, most tenacious, hardest hitting inshore fish in the Atlantic Ocean if not the world. It has consistently been ranked in the top ranking of toughest fish on earth and is rated 9.5 out of ten in surveys of the toughest fish to land.
Their highflying head shaking aerial jumps, screaming drags and several long power runs are what true fishing is all about. Tarpon can leap 8 –10 feet in the air and it is not uncommon for there to be 9-10 jumps per fight. When you combine the size (70-140 lbs. average but some can get larger than 200 lbs.), the speed(top speeds of 56 kph/35 mph), stamina(can breathe in water and out of water during its incredible aerial jumps thanks to two lungs. This means it can take breaths when it jumps thus gaining strength) and aerial acrobatics landing a tarpon is one of the most enjoyable, exciting, heart-pounding, adrenaline rushing way to spend a morning or an afternoon.
An average sized “Silver King” can be reeled in in about 30 minutes to an hour, but larger fish can fight with you for two hours or more. When it comes to fishing for tarpon it is said that it is not how many fish you land and reel into the boat, but instead, it’s about the battles fought and the number of jumps seen. Tarpon have extremely hard heads and mouths. Their mouths are huge but sometimes keeping the hook in the mouth can be tricky and while you might have been fighting for a while all of a sudden your line is dead and the fish has slipped its hook. One of the biggest reasons for this is when they do their flying leaps and shake their heads violently the hooks have a tendency to be spit out. Many of the older fish are notorious for having this happen when reeling them in. So count your blessings for the fight and the jumps because that may be all that you get sometimes. Also, as mentioned before many predators are waiting for an easy meal of a tired tarpon, so not all of your catches will make it to the boat. Some will become a hungry shark’s meal.
Pound for pound tarpon are the hardest fighting inshore fish and also the most fun to catch. Native Salt Charters has a captain that knows the waters of the Boca Grande Pass and knows where the best places are to get you onto the fish. Let Captain Justin and his crew give you some memories you will not soon forget.