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Top Tarpon Fishing Charters in Key West

Tarpon

  • Size 25 to 80lbs
  • Food Value None
  • Game Qualities Excellent
  • Habitats Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Tarpon Fishing in Key West

Every Floridian angler has to try Key West Tarpon fishing at least once in their lives. A vital component of the Florida Slam, the ‘Silver King’ rules the waves in the Lower Keys. Reaching mammoth sizes and featuring a prehistoric defense system, these iconic fish attract anglers to the southernmost city in continental USA in their thousands.

When to catch them

Although you can find Tarpon fish in the waters around Key West all year round, it’s the springtime that sees this fishery come alive. From March through June, most Key West Tarpon guides will be going out at least once a day to introduce anglers to these mighty beasts. If you're hoping to hook a 150lb monster in three feet of water, April and May is the best time to come. But with smaller Tarpon inhabiting the backcountry all year round, you never know when you might come across Florida's favorite inshore sport fish.

Techniques for Tarpon fishing in Key West

Saltwater fly fishing for Tarpon is very popular in Key West, especially in the flats. Most anglers use a 12-weight outfit for the Silver King with flies that imitate crustaceans—and a lot of patience. If you choose this path, you’ll likely hear the phrase ‘bow to the king,’ as you stoop forward trying to control the seemingly untamable force on the end of your line.

A slightly less challenging method for targeting Tarpon in Key West is coming aboard with 20-30lb spinning tackle and a collection of live shrimp, crabs, and pilchards. You can use this technique on the flats or in Key West Harbor.

Key West Tarpon fishing charters will often supply both fly and spinning gear, so just check the amenities section of the listing when choosing your guide.

Regulations

Tarpon is a protected species in Florida that has been catch and release only since 2013. If you really want to keep one (and are pursuing an IGFA record), you will need to possess a tarpon tag, which may be used by one person only, once a year. However, this is not recommended. Tarpon measuring over 40 inches long must be kept in the water, with smaller fish being allowed on the boat temporarily for photography, measurement, or scientific sampling.   

Tarpon

  • Size 25 to 80lbs
  • Food Value None
  • Game Qualities Excellent
  • Habitats Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Key West Tarpon Fishing Seasons

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Seasonality

Tarpon fishing in Key West varies slightly throughout the year. High season is March to June. Low season is January and October to December. There is no closed season.

What People Are Saying About Tarpon Fishing in Key West

"1/2 day with Captain Ryan"

Walter Weaver fished with Live Action Sportfishing on June 18, 2019

excellent at finding the Tarpon very comfortable and at ease trip

"Fathers Day excursion "

Heather Phillips fished with Reel Easy Charters on June 14, 2019

Captain John made my day with my Dad unforgettable!! My dad and I have been fishing for 40 yrs and this was our first time deep sea! We did the 8hr and it was unbelievable! Permit 30lbs or more, shark, snapper, jack, and tarpon chasing all in one day! I won’t use anyone else here! Thanks Captain J!!! We will see you in a month!

"Evening trip with Capt. Ryan"

David Bair fished with Live Action Sportfishing on June 14, 2019

We had a great time. Caught some fish. Had two tarpon on. We each took turns fighting that one. Wow what a powerful fish, Capt. Ryan said it probably weighted over 100 pounds. Ryan was very professional, has boat was clean, and was well equipped. The evening trip was the way to go, saw the best sunset!! Thanks Ryan. Dave Bair from Carlisle, Pa

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