tomkaz

Mullet run - Getting tarpon to hit your lure/plug when there are hundreds of naturals around

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I will throw this out there hoping for Zcoker to address, knowing he hooked into a beast on Sunday. 

 

When the mullet run is on and there are thousands of baits in the water, how do you get feeding tarpon to focus on your soft lure or hard plug? 

 

Watching drone footage of tarpon feeding in mullet schools, I am not convinced they are zeroing in on a single mullet. It looks more like they decide to attack, turn sideways for optimal open-mouth angle and then eat the mullet that is closest to them at that point. Sometimes, they do appear to change direction at last minute but I can tell if that is just a get to the nearest fish or if they sense a weak one. So how does one throw an artificial lure into a school of hundreds and have that stand out versus all the naturals?

 

It is often said to cast to the edges of the schools, leading, trailing, inshore, because that’s where the tarpon hang out between forays into the school to feed. Maybe, but what can you throw to even those cruising fish and induce a take? 

 

Some people argue that a different color lure (i.e. not mullet color) can draw attention. I have tried pink and pink/chartreuse and seem to draw jacks, but not tarpon. 

 

When the jacks are around, getting tight is much easier, with jacks who are triggered by speed. The jack in my avatar photo responded to me sweeping a Spooltek through a school. In three casts doing that, I had two hits, that being the second one. The first pulled the hook out of the Spooltek body but I did not hookup solidly. 

 

So, anyone have a secret way of getting tarpon to pay attention to what’s on the end of your line? 

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Following the thread. I fished the glass minnow run for tarpon a few months ago and it was sort of the similar way of eating. I was honestly hoping that they zero'd on a single mullet but looking at the footage too, it doesn't seem like they do. During the glass minnow run, they also did the whole lunge feeding to just get whatever is closest into its mouth so it was very hit or miss.

For us, it was basically a fish of hundreds of casts. It did seem that higher contrasting colors like black/blurple tended to work better but my buddy did mention that olive worked the week prior. A lot of the local guys there did say that to just retrieve slow and make it an easy target for the tarpon to get a easy bite on. 
(We used Hogy Protails)

 

Going to be going back down to fish for em next month though! I'd also love to learn if there's any way to increase my hook up chances.

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Ryan, it is frustrating but that’s why we do it. I have had great luck on the Hogy Protails, from the 1.25 to the 3 oz, mostly in white. See my fishgods were smiling post from last autumn and you will see a 1.5 ounce white protail did the deed. 

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Can only comment on what I do to hook them during mullet run.....it's really a matter of casting away from any large bait pods, not in the middle of the pods like most do. That quiet and calm water away from the explosive activity is where the big cruisers are. Slow retrieves are good retrieves, no jerking or jigging or erratic movements. These poons can be very lazy and kinda move along and scoop stuff up.

 

Not going to get into lure selection, only that the popular Hogy's are "ok"....ok at disappearing off the shelves! Lol. Quite frankly, kinda limited on tail action. Hogy makes them stiff to prolong their life related to hits and/or hookups...certainly not the end-all lure. In any case, larger profiles can make a BIG difference, so can smaller profiles....the idea is to get attention away from the bait size that is being actively hit, something smaller or larger stands out, as do off-colors. Remember, you're competing against a zillion baitfish!

 

Sometimes the leader can be over blown. I usually run a short tippet of heavy mono near the lure into lighter mono leader, which is only for rub. Small adjustments can work wonders.

 

Even still, lotta casting. But if there's bait around, and that bait is being actively hit by Tarpon, the chances are very good that a fish will be caught with fewer cast. Regardless, taking on Tarpon from shore still requires a lot of footwork, lotta driving, and a lot reconnaissance......yes, lotta effort.  

 

Happy pooning!

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Z,  what about lower color and time of day or water clarity?

 

Last year I think I recall you saying you like white at night and during early hours and dark when the sun is high. Did I recall that correctly? 

 

And what about non-natural colors when the going gets tough? Bright colors for example, do you have a use for them?

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2 hours ago, tomkaz said:

Z,  what about lower color and time of day or water clarity?

 

Last year I think I recall you saying you like white at night and during early hours and dark when the sun is high. Did I recall that correctly? 

 

And what about non-natural colors when the going gets tough? Bright colors for example, do you have a use for them?

I've gotten them in crystal clear water during the middle of the day high noon...perhaps this is when color matters the most....maybe.  I usually go with white at night when I'm at the inlets or purples....purple seems to be a good day color, cloudy water....just go with what they like to hit, would be my best advise. There's no science to it. We don't even know if they see color or not or maybe they do see color but not the same colors that we see. For this reason, I'm not that hung up on color selection, more on the quality of the presentation and the action of the lure not to mention finding the darn things LoL.

 

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I've been flinging DOA mullets (red/white) and some natural  looking baits in the schools, outside the schools all over the place. 

Also picked up some large yo-zuri crystal minnows blue and red/white. Cast and cast some more

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Lots of good info. I'll have to change up the size more and maybe try some other lures. Is soft plastic normally the better go to or do you have luck with plugs too? 

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Hey Tomkaz,

 

How are the conditions in the surf down there? I read there's going to be a high surf advisory all week. Just wondering if it worth taking a trip down there this weekend?

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I'll chime in on the conditions....only because I was just out there....very rough seas, big swell kicked up from Humberto, 4-7 surf right now and expected to hit 12 foot this weekend. Water churned up, very cloudy all along costal areas. Still doable in certain situations (inlets) but, for the most, surf fishing gonna be iffy. You can always check sites like Magicseaweed to get detailed surf reports for the area(s).

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2 hours ago, pjl1981 said:

Hey Tomkaz,

 

How are the conditions in the surf down there? I read there's going to be a high surf advisory all week. Just wondering if it worth taking a trip down there this weekend?

It is pretty high. I am getting rip tide warnings every couple of hours that expire the following day. 

 

Do you have the links to the Jupiter or PB Inlet web cams? I checked PB earlier and the swells were over the concrete pad in front of the pumphouse. 

 

Sadly for your timing, the weekend will be worse with this storm out there. I use Windfinder Pro and its prediction is the wind turning back to the East starting tomorrow. Friday and Saturday show low 20s with wave heights at 10+ feet and period of 12 seconds. Things start to calm down slightly on Sunday and smooth out by mid-week next week. 

 

All of the above might make the beaches a bit dicey or may lead to epic mullet run action, ya never know. I have a family event on Sunday so Saturday morning might be my only day. I might take by beach bike down to Singer Island so I can check out the Inlet and Pumphouse. Low tied is just after sunrise so the game fish might be active at the mouth of the Inlet or the nearby beach.  

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34 mins ago, zcoker said:

I'll chime in on the conditions....only because I was just out there....very rough seas, big swell kicked up from Humberto, 4-7 surf right now and expected to hit 12 foot this weekend. Water churned up, very cloudy all along costal areas. Still doable in certain situations (inlets) but, for the most, surf fishing gonna be iffy. You can always check sites like Magicseaweed to get detailed surf reports for the area(s).

Sorry Z, did not see your response. Yup, same thing, fewer words. 

 

Then there is the backside of Singer Island though it is not that great at dead low tide. 

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View of Jupiter Inlet from this morning. Looking north at the Inlet and Jupiter Island Colony to the north. That is some serious surf and Windfinder said the wind was in the low teens then and waves under 7 feet. Note the line between the cloudy water and the clear water out past the first breakers. 

 

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