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  1. #11
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
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    In certain areas they also have become attuned to the click, click, click of depth finders. ;)

  2. #12
    Senior Member lemaymiami's Avatar
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    Way back when... the big thing among club anglers (light tackle fanatics - more than one really great guide started out as a club angler years ago...) was winter fishing places like Government Cut that held lots of tarpon - down deep... Experienced guys always would locate the fish, wherever they were holding in the 40+ foot waters -then turn off their depth finders.... All these years later that same area is around 46 feet deep (commercial ports get dredged out every ten years or so...) but I'm still a believer in turning off my depth finder once I'm in fish... (couldn't hurt...).

    Way back then everyone tossed big Creek Chub Pikie plugs at them -- and if you hooked one that wouldn't jump - the advice was to break her off and find one you had a chance with....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
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    People often look at me with an odd look when I tell them about depth finders and tarpon when we're up under the bridges, then I turn it on and they see what the tarpon do as a result -- all of a sudden those fish meandering down the shadow line turn around and go back the other way as they approach the clicking. They generally don't question me again about it....

  4. #14
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    I fish close to the same area the OP is talking about. Most of the Tarpon I catch from 10 to over 100 pounds are feeding on the bottom , in water from 10 to 20 feet deep. There is no problem telling when they are eating on top, due to the large holes they leave in the water, more like a cinder block falling from bridge. Most I catch are on 3/8 or 1/2 once Jig heads with white flukes. They only seem feed on top when lots of bait moves through. Then I will throw a fly at them, but they still eat better on the bottom. I only get them to eat while it's still dark, once it starts to get light I go looking for big fish with a fly rod in 3 to 6 feet of water. Some of these fish are moving, but most are on the bottom within 10 or so feet of the roll point facing the current. I agree with the fish finder deel, when I can't seem to get in casting range, fish rolling just out of range I look to find I left it on.

  5. #15
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    Can agree with some of what you said, but I'm not sure if they go completely down when after they roll. If I see a tarpon roll usually I lay a fly or lure right in the vicinity of where they rolled and sometimes they'll blow up/surface on the lure/fly. I think the tarpon that are rolling continue to stay by the surface. While those laid up on the bottom stay at the bottom for some time. I'm by no means an expert though so if anyone has any countering information I'd be interested to hear.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemaymiami View Post
    If they were holding in moving current (particularly near the mouth of a river, creek, or canal...) they were holding right on the bottom facing into the current - feeding on whatever came their way. All that surfacing behavior (rolling is how most call it...) is simply each fish getting a gulp of air -then turning over and going straight down to the bottom. Tarpon have the ability to gulp air and hold it in their swim bladder - which functions like a primitive lung. They can live in waters with low oxygen content - and most of us that fish them look for that rolling behavior. No matter what you see them doing at the surface - they live on the bottom and won't move very far to come after a bait or lure so you have to slow down and figure out where you have to toss your gear so that it can sink deep enough to be noticed by the fish.... At least that's how I have my anglers do it in the 'Glades when we're fishing big (or small) tarpon holding in rivers that drain into the coast.

    Anyone casting right at rolling fish is looking for frustration since by the time the lure sinks to where the fish are holding.. it's long passed them by... You have to lead them (I tell my anglers to cast across any current past the fish then allow whatever lure or plug we're using to sink down near the bottom before they ever start working the lure.. We do similar things with flies - but that's a different story entirely....

    Hope this helps. Tarpon are pretty much my favorites day in and day out.... Whenever the Park re-opens after Irma - that's where I'll be out of Flamingo - chasing silver....
    The post I replied to above^.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
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    There are very few circumstances that tarpon stay near the surface, in my experience. I can really only think of three....

    Fish running shadow lines around bridges.
    Fish eating in a flush-type effect (like a crab flush) or other eating event (worm hatch or mullet run).
    Laid up fish that are resting in relatively shallow water -- generally loners early or late in the season.

    In the first two examples, these are actively eating fish -- and if the fish being described by the OP were doing that, he'd in all likelihood know. Tarpon are not subtle when they eat near the surface, they blow up on baits from below.

    What laid up fish are doing has always been a mystery to me -- perhaps getting warm in the sun or just being lazy.

    In all other circumstances tarpon tend to stay away from the surface except to roll. They are generally found in the bottom half of the water column just as Capt. Lemay has described.

    What makes you think they are staying near the top? That you get an occasional hit by casting near them?
    Last edited by Tarponator; Yesterday at 07:11 AM.

  8. #18
    Senior Member lemaymiami's Avatar
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    We fish a bunch of laid up fish in late winter inside Whitewater and other interior bays in the Everglades. These are fish that come up inside simply because the water is warmer than the Gulf waters they were in... and of course the moment the water temps drop - they disappear back into the Gulf. Laid ups can be fish with their chins right on the bottom in less than five feet of water or they might be floating right at the surface with the tips of dorsal and tail fins showing (to see, at first light a half inch of fin that quivers or moves slightly in dark waters ahead of you is a hoot - you'll never forget it...). I figure they're relaxing - even dozing when we find them laid up. They aren't going anywhere except to rise occasionally for a small gulp of air. The really tough part in the dark waters of the 'Glades is just seeing them (then figuring out which is the end that bites...). I tell my anglers that they're just like dragons (that are supposed to sleep with one eye open at all times...). They're not looking to feed - but get a fly or lure close to one and the fish might just come to life... These are big fish (and at times are big, big fish...) and they show up before anyone in the Keys gets a shot at one each winter (depending on the weather - it just has to be warm enough). Laid ups are very lazy and we generally find them in places where they're sheltered from the wind - particularly in places where no boats are running to disturb them. Many days they're so hard to see that you only get one shot - and the fish is within 30 to 40 feet if it's on the bottom - when they're "floating" we can see them much farther away (and pray the fish stays up as we pole into position....).

    Laid up fish also occur regularly in the Keys - but folks down there won't talk about them much... In the 'glades there are quite a few places you might find laid up fish - when the conditions are right - but mostly in the late winter or early spring...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
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  9. #19
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, Capt. Lemay.

    For what it's worth, I haven't had the opportunity to fish laid up fish down your way. The one time we tried to find them in the winter I was unsuccessful. Maybe someday I'll get another opportunity down there, but we see them occasionally up here in Tampa Bay and almost exclusively when the water is relatively cold early in the season...and I know what you mean by "hoot -- you'll never forget it".

    Take care...Mike

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