Tarpon 2016

It seems like more and more people try tarpon fishing every year... I wanted to take a little time to help people understand what good etiquette means, as well as show you some of the fish that we have caught so far this year. Etiquette goes a long way helps everyone catch more fish. I guarantee if you read this information and apply it, you will catch more fish.

Be Observant:
If you see another boat anchored up in an area where you expect tarpon, assume that they are working a school of fish and show them the respect of swinging way around them.

Be Patient:
If you do not have patience, tarpon fishing is the wrong sport for you. Much of tarpon fishing is deliberate movements that all align with getting a bite. There will never be a time when you can find a school of fish, come off plane, throw a bait in and get a bite. These are not jack cravelles or bonita in a feeding frenzy. This is a whole different ballgame. Come with plenty of patience and slow down.

The Approach:
One of the biggest keys to tarpon fishing lies in the approach. This is especially pertinent to fish in water that is less than 15 feet deep. The deep water fish are less affected, but not even close to immune. If you don’t remember anything else from reading this, just remember to slow down.

Looking/Searching:
If you are looking for fish on the beach or in other areas that you expect them to be, come off plane about a quarter mile out. Then, IDLE to the spot, or IDLE down the beach. IDLE is key, you want zero whitewater behind your boat. Idle is not a little above idle or only throwing a small wake.

Setting Up:
Identify the direction the fish are traveling, if they are moving at all, and work to set yourself up far ahead of the fish to intercept them. Take into consideration the wind and current when getting ready to set up. Now that you know which way they are moving and how you are going to intercept, shut your engine off and drift. Or, do a controlled drift with assistance from your trolling motor, the trolling motor should only be used to make small adjustments. Make sure that you take into consideration what other boats are doing that have been there before you, or are halfway through a drift. Do not short drift another boat, make sure that you give others plenty of room and take your turn. Short drifting refers to a common scenario that is beyond frustrating for those on the receiving end, let’s take drifting a crab flush for example: A boat sets up well ahead of a school of fish and anticipates being ‘in’ the fish in about 3 minutes based on their drift speed. At the same time another boat has come up to the area or is swinging back around to make another drift. The second boat then sees the school of fish surface and decides that is where they want to start their drift. So they cut in and begin to drift into the fish without taking into consideration that another boat had set up properly on the fish. As a result, the second boat has shut the fish down because they got too close with their motor on and the first boat is SOL. Now, neither boat has a chance at the fish because of the short drift mistake. If everyone has good etiquette, everyone will catch more fish…

Re-positioning:
As you re-position on fish it is important to swing out, far away from other boats as well as the fish. One of the things that I see happen all the time is people getting on a plane to re-position when they are far too close to fish and other boats. Again, if you are within a quarter mile of fish, you want to be idling. If the tide is ripping and idling does not work (making no headway), idle your boat perpendicular to the fish and others, then get on a plane when you are a quarter mile away, swing way wide as you set back up, then idle back to make another drift. Make sure that you take your fair turn and get at the back of the line, do not short drift another boat. This is called leapfrogging.

Leaving an Area:
As you decide you want to leave an area where there are fish or other fisherman, do not get up on plane as soon as you make this decision, idle away from everyone and get up on plane at a respectable distance.

As those who tarpon fish know, it is not the other fisherman that are the problem most of the time, it is the inconsiderate people who have the ability to mess up fishing for everyone. The jet skis, pontoon boats, booze cruisers and other non-fisherman come and go in and out of areas, those we don’t have control over. But, we do have control over our own actions as fisherman. Have a great time and make it enjoyable for everyone. These very simple unwritten rules are generic and can be used anywhere with any fishing technique on our coast. Whether you are on anchor on the beach, in a pass, under a bridge or anywhere else. Drifting in open water, under a bridge or on the beach. Using your trolling motor on the beach, in a pass or anywhere else. Etiquette applies.

We all live in a place with an amazing fishery that we should never take for granted. See you on the water.

Here are some pics from so far this year. Enjoy
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Replies

  • HOOKED UPP!HOOKED UPP! Posts: 19 Greenhorn
    Very well written and the photos were great... Thank you
  • Moken10Moken10 Posts: 292 Deckhand
    Awesome post ! Well said and very important info.
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 3,155 Moderator
    Moken10 wrote: »
    Awesome post ! Well said and very important info.

    X 10, thanks for that.
  • haydenfox!#$haydenfox!#$ Posts: 2,382 Captain
    Terrible post as you have failed to mention where to find them :mad

    I can't wait for spring football to be over!
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 925 Officer
    You can find them in the water:)
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 11,131 AG
    Great info, great pics, great post. Thanks for sharing. Those principles can be used for pretty much any fish you are targeting and there is nothing wrong with being excessively polite on the water to everyone else.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 12,944 AG
    Good stuff, Trent. :) Hope you're well.
  • PCBerryManPCBerryMan Posts: 24 Greenhorn
    Great post and photos!
  • SouthshoreSlayerSouthshoreSlayer Posts: 408 Deckhand
    Great post, Trent

    Sticky worthy if any mods are reading
  • gumpiregumpire Posts: 36 Greenhorn
    If only the guides would abide by this....beaches and passes....
  • SouthshoreSlayerSouthshoreSlayer Posts: 408 Deckhand
    Hey Trent, guess who is going to be boatless for 2 months while my new one is going to be built?

    :crossed
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,041 Officer
    thank you for the fine post. It should be posted at baitshops and docks this time of year.

    If folks avoid others and find their own pod of fish to work (like on the beach or in the bay or wherever other than drifting a pass...) and take their time, they will most definitely improve their chances for hookups. It is more enjoyable to fish away from others, too. the fish can be frustrating enough, minimizing contact with other boaters will benefit all involved.

    And we all know way too many guides have their own rules, regardless.
  • CaptainBlyCaptainBly Posts: 2,156 Captain
    If I would have had this post last night I would have nail gunned it on about 6 boats driver's (notice I didn't use captain) foreheads...There was a really good run of fish rolling and rather than get out in front and drift through, they would run up on them. Now, they ran up on them from offshore so they would get to them and before they could cast a line to them, the tide ripped them offshore away from them, that part was humorous. One guy got mad about that and literally went on plane up to them....I kept going way around and drifting through them and finally got a hook up but being a moron myself I didn't tie new leaders and hook on for the day and must have had a nick and it broke off in about 10 seconds...
    In Loving Memory of James Zielske, January 19, 1957-July 5, 2013
  • Mackeral SnatcherMackeral Snatcher Posts: 10,964 AG
    I wanna say
    there is no fixing stupid" BUT when I see "boaters" like that I say to myself "Ok maybe they will learn" Like i have in the school of hard knocks.

    And the new leader thing..........we all try and make sure we have checked everything, as much as we THINK we have done everything right it always turns out we forget something:grin
    We were down in the keys last week and forgot to pull the pinfish trap:banghead
    THERE SHOULD BE NO COMMERCIAL FISHING ALLOWED FOR ANY SPECIES THAT IS CONSIDERED OVERFISHED.
  • Mackeral SnatcherMackeral Snatcher Posts: 10,964 AG
    OH, BTW it wasn't only before we went out on the last day we (I)forgot to pick it up before we left:mad
    No doubt someone will find it and make good use of it.
    THERE SHOULD BE NO COMMERCIAL FISHING ALLOWED FOR ANY SPECIES THAT IS CONSIDERED OVERFISHED.
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 925 Officer
    I am glad to see positive responses. Tony, you picked a terrible time to be boatless!
  • SouthshoreSlayerSouthshoreSlayer Posts: 408 Deckhand
    I am glad to see positive responses. Tony, you picked a terrible time to be boatless!

    Wife said buy a new boat so I am doing it before she changes her mind :rotflmao
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 925 Officer
    Can't argue with that logic. Congrats on the new boat!
  • Mackeral SnatcherMackeral Snatcher Posts: 10,964 AG
    Wife said buy a new boat so I am doing it before she changes her mind :rotflmao

    Or sees the payments:grin
    THERE SHOULD BE NO COMMERCIAL FISHING ALLOWED FOR ANY SPECIES THAT IS CONSIDERED OVERFISHED.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 11,131 AG
    Wife said buy a new boat so I am doing it before she changes her mind :rotflmao

    Buy it! Buy it now! Package all the electronics/features you want too. Once you get it the hammer will drop lol.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • CaptainBlyCaptainBly Posts: 2,156 Captain
    OH, BTW it wasn't only before we went out on the last day we (I)forgot to pick it up before we left:mad
    No doubt someone will find it and make good use of it.

    Someone probably thought they stole it not realizing you forgot it. I almost left my $100 suremarker offshore the other day...
    In Loving Memory of James Zielske, January 19, 1957-July 5, 2013
  • mjrudd1mjrudd1 Posts: 277 Deckhand
    ]
    gumpire wrote: »
    If only the guides would abide by this....beaches and passes....

    As a kayaker, I get the disrespect exponentially, as if the small size of my boat disqualifies me from having rights. However, some guides are great and I appreciate the majority of folks out around the migrating tarpon. Got think of the jerks are just part of the challenge. It is going be nuts soon - I've watched it go from a few boats to 20 to 30 to over 50 some days last year. Wondering if it be more this year?

    Attachment not found.
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,041 Officer
    mike, that girl you got your hand on looks like a real nice fish. Is that the same fish jumping at the boat? Today was a strange one, weather looked good, nice out, fish began stacking up, got a nice hookup on a grunt, but she broke my 60 lb leader, same ol story this year. My buddy hooked one in the school on a ladyfish, when she was coming up to jump, shake rattle and snap. The strange storm built up to the west, low clouds looking like the front, early, but around 11 wind was howling rain was falling and it was a rough wet ride back in.

    1st time fishing a pass this season, drifted incoming. Only one boat at 6:45. He was drifting (that lane of travel, good for him) we stayed to the inside, where we had a hookup on our 1st 2 drifts. Then boats showed up - 5 of the 7 other boats there were anchored up in the lane of travel the fish often use along a drop off (one was anchored up on other side). Are they just too lazy to make the drift and have some down time to watch the fish. They can not present a bait to the fish in natural manner, on the drift you can. Fish on the incoming works for us.

    I wanna see those hands on one when we next get the chance!
  • mjrudd1mjrudd1 Posts: 277 Deckhand
    permit_me wrote: »
    mike, that girl you got your hand on looks like a real nice fish. Is that the same fish jumping at the boat?
    I wanna see those hands on one when we next get the chance!

    First, thank you to StPeteBaitman - great article. Should be required reading for all tarpon chasers. And Kevin, I want to see my hands on more than one! That is the same fish jumping and being instructed on proper boat side etiquette. I'll be in the area next week to chase 'em again.
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 989 Officer
    Couple of thoughts. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I see so many people get the "Tommy Tough Guy" mentality and not willing to simply help out when another boat close by hooks up. I'll gladly toss my ball, trim up, let you hand me the rod or even jump on the boat for a minute or two to reposition. Be helpful! So many people I'll ask them to trim up and they just look at you with a mean grimace. Yesterday was an anomaly but first fish went under a boat and without asking the other boat trimmed up, started pulling anchor and took rod and handed it to us. A+ Then we had a line tangle with our fish and the other angler quickly cut his line and said all good! That's what we are looking for everyone helping each other out. Now look, I'm talking about being reasonable! Don't come anchoring up 10 feet in front of me and expect me to be super helpful. If you put yourself in the predicament due to carelessness then you'll have to suffer the consequences but if it's jamming and it's a reasonable problem let's all try to be nice and help people out.
  • kmagnusskmagnuss Posts: 3,200 Captain
    Great post. Hopefully it gets thousands and thousands of views.
    Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
    Captain Keith Magnussen - Crooked Rod Charters
  • kmagnusskmagnuss Posts: 3,200 Captain
    Need to post this in the General fishing section also so it gets more views.
    Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
    Captain Keith Magnussen - Crooked Rod Charters
  • mjrudd1mjrudd1 Posts: 277 Deckhand
    Seconding "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It sets the tone for what happens around you. And in my experience, crowding someone doesn't pay off because the fish are constantly moving. Fishing technique makes the biggest difference - doesn't matter how close you are to fish if you don't do it right.
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 925 Officer
    Seconding "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It sets the tone for what happens around you. And in my experience, crowding someone doesn't pay off because the fish are constantly moving. Fishing technique makes the biggest difference - doesn't matter how close you are to fish if you don't do it right.

    This is very true. The majority of newbies to tarpon fishing operate under the monkey see monkey do mentality. If we are the ones to set the standard things will be better for everyone.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 12,944 AG
    FusionZ06 wrote: »
    Couple of thoughts. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I see so many people get the "Tommy Tough Guy" mentality and not willing to simply help out when another boat close by hooks up. I'll gladly toss my ball, trim up, let you hand me the rod or even jump on the boat for a minute or two to reposition. Be helpful! So many people I'll ask them to trim up and they just look at you with a mean grimace. Yesterday was an anomaly but first fish went under a boat and without asking the other boat trimmed up, started pulling anchor and took rod and handed it to us. A+ Then we had a line tangle with our fish and the other angler quickly cut his line and said all good! That's what we are looking for everyone helping each other out. Now look, I'm talking about being reasonable! Don't come anchoring up 10 feet in front of me and expect me to be super helpful. If you put yourself in the predicament due to carelessness then you'll have to suffer the consequences but if it's jamming and it's a reasonable problem let's all try to be nice and help people out.

    IMO, nobody should be anchoring up in the pass in the first place. The Bean Point fishery is ruined.
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