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Santiago II

Catching Tarpon

15 posts in this topic

Ok,

 

Too many people are responding to the earlier posts. Let's introduce a sleeper topic.

 

Who wants to talk about catching really big nasty fish. Tarpon! Not for the faint hearted or those who refuse to drive more than a half hour. Florida coast. Hotel on the beach, carry the kayak about 50 feet to the water, family and friends can watch you from the balcony. We have 1-2 months to think about it before anyone has to commit. Talk amongst yourselves.

 

I hear the crickets chirping.

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Cool. There was some (brief) talk about this last year and I tried to corral some folks into it but never got very far. There's some great guys on the CKF Florida board that would probably even be willing to provide some "hosting" duties. No matter what though, sign me up.

 

I may even be down there in early march to do a trip from Tampa Bay to the Keys in a small boat (kayak or beach cat, still haven't decided). Hopefully I'll be able to scope out some of the hot spots during that trip.

 

Chris

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I was down there last spring and live shrimp at night was the only thing that worked for me. Im going down for the month of January although long term weather forcast are calling for a deep freeze. Looking for info on the panhandle area?

Barrell

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The location is one I stumbled on by accident two years ago. East coast of Florida south of Mosquito Lagoon. I was planning my big tarpon fishing on the west coast the week before in the Sarasota area. Fishing pressure on the west coast was heavy. There were fish but they were hard to catch. The west coast tarpon dive at the sound of boats so you have to wait them out between boats.

 

As for Boca Grande, we went out with local guides who wouldn't get near the area because of the insane boat traffic.

 

Went to the east coast the next week just to be near Disney World and a beach with some surf. I saw lots of turtles, as well as a few dolphins, from my hotel window. I figured I'd check the prospects out any way. ScottO and his family were there too. He found some bottom fish right near shore, but I had to troll. The first sign of action was a kingfish jumping in the distance. I was trolling a jighead and shad body to the area I saw the kingfish. I was about 100 yards off the beach when I finally noticed my rod jumping up and down in the rod holder. Shortly thereafter a really angry tarpon was doing a nasty head shake on the surface. I stopped and he spit the hook. During the week I had similar experiences with other tarpon. I had one tarpon jump a few times before he broke my line. I hooked him casting a jig and baitfish combo toward the building waves near shore. The fish landed on that trip included a big Crevalle Jack that towed me all over the ocean for an hour and half. That's how I got the nickname Satiago II ... after the old cuban fisherman in the Hemingway novel "The Old Man and the Sea". Also was bitten off by a kingfish in that trip. Your bait looks like some one sliced it with a razor.

 

Just to see if it was a fluke we went back to the same place this summer and had a very similar experience. Tarpon were still there in numbers. I hooked more shark this year. This year I also met a local kayak fisherman who's also caught (and landed) tarpon in that area. He posted his story on the CKF Florida BB.

 

I went to the west coast in the Sarasota area as well this year. I hooked one tarpon but the boat traffic definitely kept the fish down.

 

Thge best part of this east coast location is that nobody but people in plastic boats are around (and very few of them). The fishing begins to pick up in late spring and early summer (when I go) and really cooks (according to the locals) by late summer when really huge schools of bait move into the area. I've never been there for that.

 

Fishric on the Florida CKF BB knows the area very well. I'm sure there are others out there, but I've never connected with any of them.

 

Might be the best kayak fishing opportunity in the US. Great beach fishing plus your close the gulf stream if you want to chase really big fish. At the same time your near the Mosquito Lagoon, which has some of the best flats fishing in Florida (See Stubb's posts on CKF Florida).

 

I'm happy to provide more info based on my limited experiences.

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I lived for 5 years in Fla. on the W. Coast and can verify what Santiago says. In general, the fishing is better out of tourist season.

 

May and June, Oct. and Nov. are the best salt months. You generally need warmer water to catch snook and reds on the flats and in the surf. Tarpon is a seasonal migration thing, with june usually the best month.

 

(i'm not sure, but I think they migrate south in the fall.) Depending on the weather, there is also some decent inshore fishing in Dec. and April.

 

You can try to head up rivers for snook in the winter. But they can be dormant if it's too cold.

 

 

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Santtiago So when are ya thinking of going ?I presume you are gonna be in the Cocoa Beach area .Let me know my mom and sister live in Fla. I go down every year.Would like to do some of that type of fishing

joev

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End of June .Begining of July whew I think I am starting to melt.I will talk with my boss.I think I will be in Cali.for the 4th of July for the week.

joev

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I can't decide when to hit FL now after all the expert opinions I've gotten. Looks like the end of summer may have better fishing but the weather is less predictable. If anyone else is really interested I'll take their preferences in to consideration. Nothing is more fun than company when a big Tarpon goes airborne. I once had a one jump within 100 feet of a roped off swimming area (and no one noticed).

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Here's a response about where and when to go from Fishric in FL. This guy knows the area very well.

 

"The last week of August and first two weeks of Sept. are normally the very

best of the entire year for finding tarpon off the beach. I would suggest

the Matanzas Inlet located south of St. Augustine about 16 miles. The mullet

start to concentrate for their migration south at that location at that time

of year. Large numbers of tarpon, black tip sharks and just about everything

else concentrate at the mouth of the inlet. Access is good; bait is

plentiful; and the catching can be phenomenal! For some reason very few

people have caught on to this and there usually are only a few surf fisherman

that normally concentrate in the inlet. The last couple of years I started

fishing large topwater lures thrown from the kayak to the back side of the

breakers. Use 20# test line with at least a 100# three foot leader. A reel

with at least a 200 yard capacity is necessary. Retrieve the lure at a

relatively fast and steady pace. Color and style of the lure doesn't seem to

matter much, just big 7 to 9 inches. Be prepared for some heart pounding

action! I have had 6 foot black tips erupt no more than five feet from the

kayak, tarpon have slurped the lure from the surface from that distance as

well; both species immediately go to the air when they feel the steel and

will leap well above your head! Suggest you team up with someone as this

type of fishing can be dangerous. The size of the fish pose certain hazards,

always keep a knife available to cut your line if necessary. I have had to

do that on more than one occasion. After being towed for several miles and a

couple of hours there comes a time when you concede the battle to the fish.

One catch of note last year was a 54" Jack Crevalle that I caught from the

beach on a topwater lure at Playalinda beach. It took me over an hour to

subdue this fish. I guessed its weight to be in excess of 40#. It towed my

yak about a mile and a half from the hook up spot."

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When I mentioned this trip to the wife permission was immediately declined. But this is getting so interesting I may have to admit to her that I have a mistress in Fla or something.

Jim

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Jim Tell here its a business trip biggrin.gif

 

That Inlet would be very doable for me since its about a 1/2 hour from my moms house.Lets do some more research on this .

joev

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