Tarpon Fishing In Florida [Complete Guide]

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Tarpon is on most anglers’ bucket lists for fish, and there’s no better place to find them than Florida. These iconic saltwater fish will be your favorite fight yet. Here’s a complete guide on Tarpon fishing in Florida.

Tarpon Fishing In Florida

Florida is the most popular location for Tarpon fishing. The place is home to one of the greatest Tarpon populations on the planet. It not only has many fishing places and charters to make the experience unforgettable, but the ideal times of year to catch Tarpon in Florida vary by region, fish size, and time of day.

However, fear not, as Tarpon is available all year round. It doesn’t get better than fishing Tarpon in Florida. What makes fishing for Tarpon in Florida great is that even a novice could land one of these feisty fish with the number of techniques available.

Best Time & Season To Fish For Tarpon In Florida

Photo Credit: Fishingbooker.com

Suppose you’re wondering what the best time of the day and the best season is for Tarpon fishing in Florida. In that case, knowing all about Tarpon is essential. This is because Tarpon start their journey up Florida’s west and east coasts once spring inevitably leads to summer.

Understanding migration patterns and closely monitoring water temperatures will help determine when a location will benefit fishing. The peak season happens to be between May and July. Knowing what to expect each season will ensure that you have satisfactory experiences. In the summer and fall, Tarpon fishing is the most productive.

The tropical and subtropical climates are where these huge fish spend the majority of the year. They leave in the middle of spring and go north straight to Florida. This is where you can expect them to spend the summer and most of the fall.

They make a second southward migration in November, staying there during the winter. Therefore, on average, you’ll start spotting them in Florida waters around mid-May. From there, their numbers will rise until the summer and fall, when they are most plentiful.

Tarpon is typically not abundant throughout the winter. While spring is a decent time to expect a strong Tarpon catch rate, it is not the best. That’s because it simply doesn’t compare to the summer and fall, during which they are at their peak.

The most crucial element in this situation is the water’s temperature. In tropical regions, when the water temperature is above 75 degrees Fahreinhart, Tarpon can be found throughout the year since they love the warm water.

The ideal water temperature for Tarpon is about 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, Florida’s typical water temperature rarely rises above 70 degrees. Therefore, it only makes sense that it’s challenging for Tarpons to thrive there. 

It is simply just too chilly. Because of this, they move south in search of warmer climates. However, it is still feasible to find Tarpon throughout the winter. Just not as many. Reduced light is typically the most fruitful when it comes to the best time of day when Tarpon fishing. 

Tarpons typically have more cover in the dark to attack and surprise their target. Therefore, it’s best to fish when there is the least light during the day. This is because feeding is now more straightforward and requires less energy.

Hence, the optimum times of day to attempt fishing Tarpon are at nighttime, daybreak, and sunset. Concentrating more on sundown hours is wise if you’re fishing from the shore. Tarpons are encouraged to approach the coast to benefit from some warmth as a result of hours of heat from the sun.

The tide is another critical factor when Tarpon fishing, particularly from the shore. Your goal should be to aim for the two hours just before high tide.

Where To Catch Tarpon In Florida

There are several unique places where anglers can go Tarpon fishing. 

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is considered the most incredible place to go if you want to land Tarpons. The fact that the waters are shallow and clear makes it ideal for anglers to do flats fishing. Interestingly Tarpons more than thrive in the shallow waters in the Florida Keys as they can gulp air.

This makes the Florida Keys the perfect habitat for Tarpon. Upper Key areas are the best spots to land your first Tarpon.

Tampa Bay

Even though the Florida Keys is known as the Tarpon fishing destination, other locations also have some fantastic Tarpon fishing. One of those amazing places is Tampa Bay. It is no surprise that this place is on the list as it is famous for inshore fishing.

The mouth of the bay is one of the best places as it has many hot spots that happen to be the peak feeding ground for Tarpons. It is especially a favorite for anglers as the clear waters in Tampa Bay hold many Tarpon. Not only that, but you can find Tarpon throughout the year.


This place is not only great for when you’re looking for a vacation where you can catch some sun, but it is also a great location to spice up Tarpon fishing in Florida. Tarpon is generally one of the inshore fish catches in Miami. The area between Miami beach and fisher island is great for many anglers to get started.

Furthermore, Port Everglades is a well-known local hot spot where one can find many Tarpons from mid to late spring. Many anglers enjoy Tarpon fishing at night in this area as it can lead to excellent results. In addition, many full-service charters are available to show you how Tarpon fishing is done in Miami.

How To Catch Tarpon

There are angling methods, lures or baits, and techniques used to catch Tarpon in Florida. Contrary to what some may think, Tarpon has a varied diet. Mature Tarpon eat baitfish like crab, mullet, pilchards, shrimp, or threadfin as their primary source of diet. 

As Tarpon rarely eat dead bait, it is crucial to ensure you are utilizing live bait. Learning the specifics of how Tarpons eat is the most challenging aspect of targeting them. Even if there are hungry Tarpon everywhere around you, you might not get even one nibble.

Tarpons are simpler to land once you are knowledgeable in how they eat. These fish have extraordinary vision. From a great distance, they can see bait in the water. They see you also, so using a covert strategy is the key to success. Changing your approach just a little bit could make all the difference in persuading them to eat.

A technique to use is to maneuver the bait down-current of the Tarpon in the same manner as it would naturally happen. This is because baitfish will not swim against the current. Some people get a hit if they use a twitch-twitch-pause technique.

Shifting the lure or bait too quickly is one of the worst errors anglers make. To get more bites, recover or strip slowly and steadily. Avoid bouncing or jerking the bait. Tarpon won’t respond to a hurried retrieving motion.

Have the bait in the water well before the fish while flats fishing. Use light twitches to put the bait into the fish’s strike zone. Adjust the retrieve speed to the Tarpon’s cruising pace. They won’t touch anything if it seems out of the ordinary.

When using live bait for fishing, the bait should be capable of moving as realistically as possible. The Tarpon will become suspicious of a particular bait if there is any line drag. Large fish like Tarpon have difficulty rotating their bodies from side to side. The capacity to move quickly and consume a fleeing bait puts a tarpon in the optimum strike posture.

Bait thrown directly at the fish appears odd and challenging for the fish to consume. Always use the most pulling pressure possible when battling a tarpon. Be ready to lower your rod toward the water to provide slack when it jumps when you sense it approaching the surface. One of the most common methods is casting a circle hook with live bait into a canal.

Tarpon Florida Fishing Charters

Although anglers go fishing on their own, there is a good reason why a charter might be a good route to go. With a blow that can drive even the most seasoned angler flat on their back, Tarpon, notorious for their acrobatics, can leap up several feet out of the water.

It is advised to set out with a charter because of this, mainly if you are a rookie and this is your first-time Tarpon fishing. Fortunately, many full-service charters in Florida can provide you with an excellent introduction when it comes to Tarpon fishing.

Here is a list of some of the best tarpon fishing charter recommendations from fishingbooker.com

Cost Of Tarpon Fishing Charters

Tarpon fishing charters will provide the ideal locations, whether you’re seeking a family vacation or a fishing trip. Suppose you’re wondering what anglers should expect to pay for a Florida fishing charter targeting Tarpon. In that case, the costs vary per charter. However, there are average prices that you should be aware of.

A fishing charter typically costs $250 for an hour and $800 for a whole day per person. The cost of fishing charters varies greatly based on the kind of fishing, the number of guests you invite on the boat, and the fishing hours.

A 2-person, 4-hour inshore fishing trip typically costs $400-$500. Depending on the size of the boat, captains can accommodate 4-6 people. The lowest prices for a 2-hour inshore fishing session close to Tarpon start at $250.

Florida Fishing Charter Resources

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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