Tarpon are one of the most pursued game fishes out there. Anglers chase them constantly because of their large size, tough fights, and crazy jumps and runs. This species is guaranteed to have your heart racing. You’ll have to strategically fight them, avoiding obstacles they run into and keeping the tension balanced at all times. They’re also known for fraying lines and pulling hooks, which will make your heart beat even more as you try to get them into the boat as quickly as possible!
Texas is a hotspot for Tarpon during the summer, as they annually migrate along the coast. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to find these guys and even hook some big ones. And I’m here today to show you how it’s done. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be ready to go Tarpon fishing in Texas!
Where to Go Tarpon Fishing in Texas
Tarpon are a saltwater species, so you’ll need to be by the ocean to locate them. Some areas close to the sea have Tarpon located in inshore ponds or lakes. You can also take a look at canals and rivers, as these spots also hold some smaller Tarpon.
A big bonus for Tarpon fishing in Texas is those warm summers. They heat up the water temperatures, and Tarpon come in big numbers to hang out. They’ll make their way inshore during the summer and will be easier to locate.
Throughout this article, we’ll focus on two methods of Tarpon fishing in Texas – land fishing and fishing by boat. For land fishing, make your way toward a beach. Here you’ll find there are sometimes schools of Tarpon just a little bit offshore, wandering through the area. With access points like piers, docks, or jetties, you’ll be able to cast your bait right in front of these guys.
If fishing on a boat, you can hit these same points, but ensure you don’t get too close to any swimmers or tangle your lines with any land fishermen. You’ll find successful fishing along the deeper waters off the beach, open water in the Gulf, bays, deep water cuts, marsh channels, and along the coast. A couple of well-known hotspots in Texas include the Port O’Connor jetties, Galveston, and “Tarpon Alley.”
The Port O’Connor jetties are among the most famous Tarpon spots you can fish in Texas. The long structures provide shelter for many organisms, all of which further attract predators. And Tarpon are near the top of that list. These Tarpon are usually not the biggest, however, they come in greater quantities here during summer.
If you’re looking for big ones (we’re talking 100+ pounders), then Galveston beachfront will be your next stop. You can find schools not far from the beach, prowling in the waters. And just head a little offshore and you’ll find Tarpon Alley, where Tarpon are often on the search for food. By throwing your bait in their path – disguised as a yummy treat – you have the chance of hooking into some very large Tarpon.
When’s the best time to go Tarpon fishing in Texas?
As already mentioned, Tarpon don’t like the cold! They prefer warmer water temperatures and will hang around when it’s hot. Therefore, the summer is the best time of year to go Tarpon fishing in Texas. Experienced anglers say the peak season runs from June through October, and that you’ll still have the chances of hooking one throughout the year. While that’s something to keep in mind, the biggest ones will be present in summer.
Following the time of year, comes the time of day. While Tarpon like warm water, they aren’t fans of scorching hot water. If it’s the middle of summer and the sun is beating down, chances are the Tarpon might not be acittive. Therefore, it’s best to go Tarpon fishing in Texas in the early mornings or late evenings. You’ll have enough light to see what’s going on around you and it won’t be too hot for them to come out.
Next up, is the tide. Always make sure you pay attention to the tide! The most productive bite when it comes to Tarpon, will be during a strong outgoing tide. The key reason for this is because bait fish will be making their way to deeper waters as they’re pushed offshore. Tarpon will hang around waiting to secure their snack. The stirrup of sand during the strong water movements also kicks up nutrients, allowing other prey to become more active.
Best Tarpon Fishing Baits
These mighty strong creatures also have a big appetite. With that, they’re known to eat a variety of small species in order to get their bellies full and their energy high. Common bait fish on the menu for Tarpon include mullet, threadfin herrings, pilchards, pinfish, and more. When it comes to crustaceans, they love shrimp and crab. You can use these baits alive or cut.
In addition to live bait, artificials are good for Tarpon fishing in Texas. Common lures include soft plastic and jig heads, spooks, flukes, jigs, and more. Popular brands like D.O.A, Hogy, Livetarget, Z-Man, Yo-Zuri, Rapala, MirrOLure, and plenty more create tons of great lures.
There are many options available that have differences in color, style, casting and reeling techniques, size, as well as influence when it comes to weather and water conditions. You’ll never really have an issue when it comes to finding the best artificial lure to use.
Best Gear for Tarpon Fishing
It’s no secret that the “Silver King” is a feisty, tough-fighting fish. To make sure you have success at not only hooking one but getting it to the boat, you need reliable gear.
It’s best to start with a medium-heavy rod for Tarpon – you can always go up in size if you plan on targeting massive ones. For spinning reels, a reel sized 5000 and up will put up a good fight. You’ll want to use a braid of at least 30 pounds and a fluorocarbon leader of 50 pounds and up. But go higher if the surrounding Tarpon are big. End it off with a circle hook of 6/0 or higher and you’ve got a common live bait rig for a spinning setup.
Of course, there are plenty of varying options depending on preference, weather, depth, water conditions, etc., that may influence your setup. You also might prefer conventional or baitcasting setups. And if you’re a fly fisherman that’s a whole other discussion.
How to Go Tarpon Fishing in Texas
If you don’t have access to a boat but you want to do some further exploring off-land, the best option is to book a fishing charter – especially if you’re just visiting Texas. The experienced Texas guides will take you aboard for the trip of a lifetime.
These guides will teach you all about Texas’s rich waters and its marine life. They’re very knowledgeable and have put in many years of work finding all the best spots. A number of charter boats can also help you get your fishing licenses, which is another bonus for tourists!
Whether you’re searching for a nearshore fly fishing adventure or a chaotic offshore trip, there are a variety of trips and guides out there that can fit your needs. Narrow down the search and find who’s best to take you Tarpon fishing in Texas!
Texas Tarpon Fishing Regulations
The Lone Star State requires fishing licenses for all anglers over 17 who participate in the act of fishing, whether you keep your fish or not. There are various packages and prices depending on the criteria. The most common option is an annual saltwater license, which starts at €35 for Texas residents. There are different versions concerning length, freshwater, age, and for those from out of state.
When it comes to Tarpon specifically, the rules are similar to other states like Florida. You are not allowed to harvest your Tarpon unless you have an approved permit. With this exception, you are only to keep one Tarpon and it needs to be a minimum of 85 inches. Texas aims to protect the life of Tarpon for future generations, which is why it limits harvesting.
Texas Tarpon Fishing: A Life-changing Experience
I hope you’ve gained some insight into Tarpon fishing in Texas by reading this. Whether you’re an experienced Tarpon angler or you’re new to fishing altogether, Texas will provide opportunities for new fishing memories and possible new PBs.
Tarpon will forever be known for their beauty and their strength, which are just two reasons they’re so sought after! If you haven’t caught one already, once you catch that first one, you’ll be locked in for the rest of your fishing career. A great way to fuel that passion is to go Tarpon fishing in Texas!
Have you ever been Tarpon fishing in Texas? Did you land a PB? Let us know all about your experience in the comments below!
Hi! My name is Caitlyn Gatrell and I’m an outdoor writer and inshore saltwater angler based in Naples, Florida. My fishing is typically done in the Ten Thousand Islands region, as well as the Estero, Naples, and Marco Island areas, along with some Florida Keys trips here and there. I typically target game fish such as Tarpon, Snook, and Redfish, as well as some Jack Crevalle, Seatrout, Goliath Grouper, and Sharks. I have been involved in the fishing field since I was a little girl, and my passion has only grown since I’ve gotten older.