Tips for Tarpon Feeding on Glass Minnows

My wife will be down on Friday (Oct.3) for a week of fun in Islamorada. We spent a week there last year and we both had a blast. One of the highlights of our trip was night time Tarpon fishing around the bridges. The sheer number of fish stacked in such a small area, along with the constant smack of water as they inhaled bait, was a dream come true.

We landed 2 and hooked up about 10 more times over two nights, but the fish were very specific as to what they were willing to eat. We eventually figured out that they were feeding on glass minnows as the current pushed them through. Our first night, we threw everything I had in the box at them. Inevitably, we didn't land a fish and had marginal hookup success with a small 3" jerk shad. As much as they were feeding, and as many as there were, I thought for sure we would have had more bites. We also tried shrimp, but those didn't produce much

The second night we went back with finger mullet and I thought for sure every single one was going to get plowed. While we did get much better action that night, and landed some, the fish were snubbing us quite a bit. We learned that any mullet larger than pinky size was too big. Also, we had to tone down our gear substantially and ended up using 20 lb test flouro with a very small hook.

I'm hoping someone might have some tips they'd be willing to share. I'm sure if I fly fished, that would be the ticket, as I'd be able to fling a very small streamer or something to them. But, I don't own a fly rod and am hoping there is something I'm missing. I consider our outing last year a success, but you really really had to work at it. Just didn't seem right considering all the eating they were doing all around us.

Thanks in advance!
They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!


  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    I think that if it was much easier, you wouldn't enjoy it as much. You also have to remember that tarpon are very lazy. If one busts up on a bait and misses, but you get another bust-up, almost immediately, then that's a different fish and not the one that missed the first time.

    I have seen several species keying in on glass minnows and it's not a pleasant picture, because they will not eat anything else. In my case they were permit on a flat corralling a small school of minnows and they even ignored a live crab. You are right....I think in both cases a fly rod would have done the trick.

    Take heart in that same thing probably won't happen again, anytime soon.....But then again, I do not know where you are fishing. Chances are that mullet, pinfish and/or live crabs will do the trick for you. BUT...if you have the time, there is a company called Bridgeport Jigs....or Bridgeport Tackle, in of all places, Bridgeport, Conn. They make several metal jigs in chrome color and the smallest one (about 3 inches long) has a single hook molded into the jig. I think I still have one or two, from back in the 60's when my dad bought just about anything and everything, in an effort to catch fish. But you can Google them and/or "diamond jigs" and you might find the company or the jigs themselves, if they are still made. Anyway, if you could find something like that, it might be the ticket if the tarpon are back on glass minnows.

    Aside from that, also bring some aluminum foil and fashion your own glass minnow, around a suitable tarpon hook. You might have to add extra weight for casting. A 1/4 oz. egg sinker could be threaded onto your leader and allowed to ride all the way down to the hook. For less weight, get some big crimp-on splits shots. Good luck.
  • KayakMacGyverKayakMacGyver Posts: 1,006 Officer
    I really like your aluminum foil idea! That's thinking outside the box and just the kind of tip that I was looking for. I would have never thought to try that and I'll definitely give it a shot.

    I hope you're right and maybe the glass minnows won't be an issue. In any case, I will definitely have some juicy finger mullet on hand. I'm all about the challenge, but I'm also about finding the most efficient method. I plan on chucking a small top water as well, which, I'm pretty sure, is the only thing I DIDN'T try last year. Really hope to get a couple blasts on my favorite spook.

    I'll be sure to post up how we're doing. Thanks for the awesome tips!
    They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!
  • KayakMacGyverKayakMacGyver Posts: 1,006 Officer
    Oh, I should also add that these are 50-75 lb fish. So, I'm by no means using that light of tackle on a 100 + lb fish. In fact, on the fish we landed, the fights only last about 20-20 minutes.
    They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!
  • DogDocDogDoc Posts: 686 Officer
    Another thing to try would be soft plastics...a lot of tarpon are caught on DOA Terroreyes...a silver-fleck pattern would imitate the glass minnows well.
    If the fish are in the current around the bridges you can drift the lures back and then retrieve through the current, using the current to then drift back again and keep working the lure through the bait school. For that matter, an unweighted soft plastic of the right size and color could be drifted through the current if the minnows are at the surface.
    One last reminder: As said, a fly rod can be very useful in that kind of situation...I'm considering adding one to my toolbox, but....when you've got current to take your offering to the fish, you don't always need a fly rod and fly line to use a fly :wink (Worm flies can be used in a similar fashion when a worm hatch is going on.)
  • LOUYACKLOUYACK Posts: 1 Greenhorn
    Spent lots of nights fishing all the keys bridges for tarpon, my go to lure was and still is a Mirrorlure 52m18. Best bridges Channel 2 and 5, Long Key bridge and Toms Harbor Cut and channel, Good Luck.
  • TrevfishinTrevfishin In my mind I'm in my kayak fishing, unfortunately physically I'm at work :(Posts: 666 Officer
    Try these , caught a tarpon off siesta key trolling it about 100yds off the beach tipped with shrimp. If the link doesn't work google tsunami glass minnow.

    Good luck, I'll be in your backyard trying for reds, trout and flounder!!
  • limitlesslimitless Posts: 646 Officer
    Hey Kayak: Most every bait store down there sells glass minnows for Yellowtailing. Just sayin'.

    The Snook & Gamefish Foundation is now the Angler Action Program:  Dedicated to Conservation and Education.  Please check us out.

    Angler Action Program: IAngler app trip log on your phone

  • KayakMacGyverKayakMacGyver Posts: 1,006 Officer
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. It a little late in the game for me to order anything online, but I picked up some small soft plastics to try again this year just in case the live bait doesn't work.

    Limitless: I didn't know that....thanks for the heads up!

    Signed: Pulling into Islamorada as we speak. Just in time to get the boat in the water for some early morning top water.
    They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!
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