Tarpon are a “seasonal” species that add variety to the types of fish we encounter throughout the year in our lagoons and nearshore Atlantic Ocean waters. They are usually available during the warmer months of the year (April through November) when our water temperatures remain above the 80-degree mark.
Juvenile tarpon weighing from 2 to about 50 pounds inhabit our lagoons and backwater creeks during most of the year. They are the most acrobatic and hardest fighting fish we target along Florida’s “Space Coast.”
Larger fish averaging 75 to 120 pounds travel in schools along our beaches following schools of baitfish. June, July, and August are usually our best months for these larger specimens which can grow to over 150 pounds.
Baby tarpon love to eat small jigs and flies that imitate glass minnows or small pilchards. Spinning rods loaded with 8 to 12-pound test lines are the preferred tackle for these smaller fish as are fly rods in the 6 to 8 weight range.
When chasing fish over 50 pounds we’ll use spinning or casting gear in the 15 to 30-pound class range. This larger gear is necessary when anglers are trying to land fish that are large enough to pull the boat around. Large baitfish such as menhaden, mullet, or pinfish in the 6 to 14-inch range are generally slow trolled or drifted through the schools of tarpon once we find them.