DutchGFX

Keys Shore Tarpon Requirements

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All,

 

I'm taking a trip to the keys in June and will be targeting tarpon, primarily under bridges, all from shore. 

 

I have a Penn Slammer 3 6500 that I just used in the Caribbean. Big fan. My fishing partner is convinced we will need 500 yds of 80lb braid to catch big tarpon. 

 

So, what exactly should we be using? We will be throwing artificials and bait. The Slammer I have can hold 350 yds of 50lb PowerPro. Is this going to be sufficient if I hook a decent fish? I am  worried about line strength due to the structure, but I'm also worried about capacity for obvious reasons. 

 

Will my reel be sufficient, and what line/capacity would be enough? 

 

Thanks so much!

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I fished the same way last year. I jumped a few tarpon on cut mullet, but didn’t manage to land one, so I can’t speak to line requirements from a vast amount of experience. That said, I think 500 yards of 80lb seems like overkill. I personally would go with the Slammer filled with 50lb Braid. Unless you’re fishing with some serious off-shore tackle, the jump from 50lb to 80lb braid won’t make any difference. You’ll really just be cutting into your line capacity. Also, if you have 400 yards of line out around the bridges, you’re going to have other problems - boats, pilings, etc.

 

The issue that you will run into with any braid around those bridges is that if the fish puts its head down into the coral rocks, you’re done. I ran into that a number of times last year (although that was sharks and probably jacks/grouper). I’m heading back in a week and I’ll have a few extra spools of braid with me, because I lost so much line last year. I’m seriously considering loading one of my AVETs with 40lb mono and using that to chunk around the bridges, because I want the extra abrasion resistance of the mono.

 

If you haven’t already, definitely learn to throw a cast net. There will be tons of mullet swimming around the bridges and a quick throw will be able to get you plenty of live/cut bait. If you don’t want to mess with the cast net, make sure you have some small sabiki rigs. Tip them with a small piece of old gulp and you’ll be able to catch some grunts or pinfish for live baits. When I go back next week, I plan on trying to catch some crabs for bait as well. Do yourself a favor and hit Walmart when you get there and grab one of those $7 minnow buckets to keep your grunts/pinfish/crabs alive. I had one that I tied off to the rocks under the bridges to keep a couple baits alive.

 

I’ll hopefully be able to document my trip next week and post it here. I leave on the 2nd and come back on the 12th. If you want to pm me after the 12th, I can give you a detailed report.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Also, if this is a one and done type of trip, I would consider being open to hiring a charter near the end if you don’t hook into tarpon from shore. Personally, I want to do things myself, which is the reason I’m heading back this year. But if you don’t think there’s a chance you won’t be heading back anytime soon, I’d keep that charter idea in your back pocket. 

Edited by JTR

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2 hours ago, JTR said:

I fished the same way last year. I jumped a few tarpon on cut mullet, but didn’t manage to land one, so I can’t speak to line requirements from a vast amount of experience. That said, I think 500 yards of 80lb seems like overkill. I personally would go with the Slammer filled with 50lb Braid. Unless you’re fishing with some serious off-shore tackle, the jump from 50lb to 80lb braid won’t make any difference. You’ll really just be cutting into your line capacity. Also, if you have 400 yards of line out around the bridges, you’re going to have other problems - boats, pilings, etc.

 

The issue that you will run into with any braid around those bridges is that if the fish puts its head down into the coral rocks, you’re done. I ran into that a number of times last year (although that was sharks and probably jacks/grouper). I’m heading back in a week and I’ll have a few extra spools of braid with me, because I lost so much line last year. I’m seriously considering loading one of my AVETs with 40lb mono and using that to chunk around the bridges, because I want the extra abrasion resistance of the mono.

 

If you haven’t already, definitely learn to throw a cast net. There will be tons of mullet swimming around the bridges and a quick throw will be able to get you plenty of live/cut bait. If you don’t want to mess with the cast net, make sure you have some small sabiki rigs. Tip them with a small piece of old gulp and you’ll be able to catch some grunts or pinfish for live baits. When I go back next week, I plan on trying to catch some crabs for bait as well. Do yourself a favor and hit Walmart when you get there and grab one of those $7 minnow buckets to keep your grunts/pinfish/crabs alive. I had one that I tied off to the rocks under the bridges to keep a couple baits alive.

 

I’ll hopefully be able to document my trip next week and post it here. I leave on the 2nd and come back on the 12th. If you want to pm me after the 12th, I can give you a detailed report.

Thanks so much for the response! What setup were you using? My friend thinks he can stop the fish from going into the pilings and such with 80lb braid, but I figured we won't be able to stop them regardless.

 

The abrasion resistance is definitely key. 50lb braid should be pretty resistant, but I'm definitely going to have a topshop of maybe 30ft and then an 80lb leader. 

 

I have a cast net — haven't thrown it in years, but I think I'll be able to finesse it...

 

For flats I think 300yds of 50lb braid should be sufficient, even for a big fish, but in the pilings it's a whole different game I guess.

 

Do these fish have the ability to spool me with 300yds of 50lb braid? 

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Use Google map to see which bridges give you level water access. I'll use grassy key bridge as a example . Much easier to play a taron  from the edge than up on a bridge. Still probably not catching a 100+. Buckatils and single hook soft plastic jigheads. 

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6 hours ago, Lord Helmet said:

Use Google map to see which bridges give you level water access. I'll use grassy key bridge as a example . Much easier to play a taron  from the edge than up on a bridge. Still probably not catching a 100+. Buckatils and single hook soft plastic jigheads. 

Thanks! So you think I will be able to reach the fish from shore? 

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44 mins ago, acesover said:

And just remember this, taken from the FWC regs page:

Remarks
  • Tarpon over 40 inches must remain in the water during release. Spearing and snatch hooking prohibited. Bottom weighted jigs prohibited in Boca Grande Pass. See: Myfwc.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Recreational/Tarpon for additional information.

That's precicely why we want to be at ground level. I have no interest in harming fish or losing my terminal tackle lol. Being at water level will allow us to safely unhook a fish without removing it from the water

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1 hour ago, DutchGFX said:

That's precicely why we want to be at ground level. I have no interest in harming fish or losing my terminal tackle lol. Being at water level will allow us to safely unhook a fish without removing it from the water

Just didn't want to see you get a ticket, wish you the best of luck!

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1 hour ago, acesover said:

Just didn't want to see you get a ticket, wish you the best of luck!

Thanks :)

 

Do you have any experience with this type of fishing? Any advice?

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Do yourself a favor and either rent a boat or even better pay for a charter with a reputable guide.  I ain't saying what you want to do can't be done but it is very unlikely.  Hooking tarpon near most of the bridges shouldn't be too hard but landing them is another story.  Maybe you get lucky and hook a 40 or 50lber who does all the right things and you land one but they seem to know how to find the bridge pilings very fast.  Anything over 60lbs forget about it.  Even from a sandy beach that would be difficult but at the bridges you will get a jump or two then game over.

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36 mins ago, keepah said:

Do yourself a favor and either rent a boat or even better pay for a charter with a reputable guide.  I ain't saying what you want to do can't be done but it is very unlikely.  Hooking tarpon near most of the bridges shouldn't be too hard but landing them is another story.  Maybe you get lucky and hook a 40 or 50lber who does all the right things and you land one but they seem to know how to find the bridge pilings very fast.  Anything over 60lbs forget about it.  Even from a sandy beach that would be difficult but at the bridges you will get a jump or two then game over.

Are they at least reachable from shore? I can hand line if needed to prevent them from running too much if they are in close enough

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1 min ago, DutchGFX said:

Are they at least reachable from shore? I can hand line if needed to prevent them from running too much if they are in close enough

You will definitely have shots from shore to hook up.  Probably more so with cut mullet than casting.    From what I have seen the majority of the fish roam spans in the channels further away from shore but they swim around and you will have some shots casting too depending on what bridges you fish. and how much time you put in.  As far as the hand lining part... lol...  You are not stoping these fish.  If you palm the spool they will break you off.  You just need to hope they swim the other way.  The other thing is most of the bridges with good populations of fish have at least a resident Hammerhead as well as roaming Bull sharks.  Once a shark is on them its chaos.  You try to handline that raped ape you will lose your hand.  I only fish for tarpon in a boat and even then I lose more than I land.  If you can get a circle hook in their mouth they usually won't spit it but when I hook them on jigs they spit em all the time.  More often then not though when I lose them it's due to bridges and sharks.  The fish are smart and will try to run you through the pilings.  If you really want to increase your chances of hooking up, I would concentrate on fishing at night.  Some nights when you find them it is literally every cast.   But again your best bet is on a boat with a professional guide.  Well worth the money and June is a great time to be there before they thin out a bit. 

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I'm gonna add one thing, forget about landing them, keepah is spot on.

go with a light outfit like 4000 - 5000 set up, you'll jump a bunch, have fun and don't overthink it :th:

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