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Beach tarpon positioning?

bigfinn35bigfinn35 Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,112 Officer
Never been much of a tarpon fisherman, but trying to learn now. I've made a couple trips the last 2 weeks, getting in position off the beaches near Big Pass and Venice inlet by 7am. Seen plenty of fish come by, but never close enough for me to make a cast to them. 

I know this kind of fishing can often be hit-or-miss, but I wanted to figure out if something about my setup or positioning was wrong from some tarpon guys who know better. I've been drifting in 15-18 ft of water, usually in areas that hold bait. I have 1 bait (usually a pinfish) drifting behind the boat, with another rod rigged up with a crab in a bucket of water for making a quick cast to any fish I see. Repositioning my drift every 20 minutes or so. Unfortunately I don't have a trolling motor so I can't move very quietly. Anything glaringly wrong with this approach that I should change up?
Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.


  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 19,267 AG
    edited June 7 #2
    Rather than drifting, I'd try to anchor along the lane that the fish are using that day.  You'll find, generally speaking, that most beaches in that area the moving fish will tend to stick to a certain "lane" along the beach.  By anchoring in this lane rather than drifting, you'll get more shots.  I'd start by anchoring about a hundred yards outside the last sandbar and adjusting from there.

    That said, without a trolling motor you're kind of trying to catch tarpon with one arm tied behind your back -- it's possible but you're making it hard.  More to the point, a trolling motor will increase your opportunities by an order of magnitude.  Even a small one that you can temporarily attach to your transom will provide that extra flexibility for the better downwind presentation keeping you as far away as possible.  It's also far easier to catch fish that are sitting (mudding or daisy chaining) rather than those are moving, and a trolling motor will allow you to approach these stationary/slowly moving fish where getting a bite is much more likely.

    Another extremely effective technique to do on the anchor is chumming.  Tarpon will absolutely respond to dead-bait chumming along the beach, and that technique only becomes more effective on post-spawn fish as we'll have in a month or so.  Threadfin and sardines work, but if you can find them shad work even better, and in which case you can simply fish the same thing you're chumming on the bottom with a small to medium size sinker on a knocker or fishfinder rig, and if the fish come into range you can still cast a pinfish or crab at them.

    Hope this gives you a few ideas....Mike

  • bigfinn35bigfinn35 Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,112 Officer
    Thank you so much- tons of great insight there. Yeah I figured that the lack of a trolling motor is probably a massive handicap for this kind of fishing, but I'll give anchoring a try. Chumming for the post-spawn fish is something I've never even heard of, I'll absolutely try that out when I can. Really appreciate the advice. 
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,197 Officer
    when you do anchor up, not a bad idea have a ball attached so the anchor line can be tossed overboard if a big one hits and ya need to chase her down. Also when on the beach, the fish will typically come from the opposite direction as the tide/current. Another trick is to be there before sunrise. that half hour before sunset you can get set up in close. add a second drift rod, one w crab one w whitebait. often once you see what they are eating you can feed them whatever that is. 
    The only fish we caught this morning was hooked about 6:38 and to the boat and released by 7. 
  • terdfergusonterdferguson Posts: 101 Deckhand
    Yeah without a trolling motor it's going to be tough.  Tarpon LOVE dead bait on the bottom.  If you can anchor where the fish are, throw out several deadbaits all around the boat.  Put the rods in the rod holders and sit and wait...
  • bigfinn35bigfinn35 Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,112 Officer
    edited June 13 #6
    How about in a kayak? I've got a big and stable 12-ft Native with a pedal drive that I've fished in a ton, including in some decent swell (for inshore). I imagine I could fish similarly to how I would with a trolling motor, but seems like it'd be much harder to spot fish from that low.

    Appreciate the insight!
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 19,267 AG
    edited June 14 #7
    Kayak fixes the positioning problem, but then fighting a fish effectively becomes a huge challenge.
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