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Best Tarpon Fishing Charters in Tampa Bay


Top Tarpon Fishing Charters in Tampa Bay


Tarpon

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

Tarpon Fishing in Tampa Bay

Anglers can’t get enough of the magnificent Tarpon fishing Tampa Bay presents each year. In some cases, the local Tarpon season can last up to eight months, with the largest specimens reaching over 200 lbs in size.

Needless to say, Tampa Bay is one of the best Tarpon fisheries on this side of Florida. This may even become your go-to destination for the Silver King!

When and Where to Catch a Tarpon

The conventional Tarpon season runs from April to August, but you are likely to catch the Silver King in Tampa’s waters through October if you know where to look. The peak migration comes in summer, usually from May to July, and this is when you can land a Tarpon in the 80-140 lbs range.

On a good year, you can target Tampa Bay’s resident Tarpon as early as February. These early birds average between 50-200 lbs in size. The ones leaning towards the heavier end of the spectrum can even exceed 200 lbs, making them some of the biggest in the world. You can target these bigguns near structures likes bridges and rock ledges, or in the rivers surrounding Tampa Bay.

Tarpon from the south make their entrance in May, flooding the bay and the beaches by the thousands. This is when you will see many local anglers sight fishing and fly fishing for them on the flats. During summer it’s impossible not to get caught up in the hype as anglers flock to these waters for the best Tarpon fishing Tampa Bay has to offer.

By November, your search for the Silver King will take you back to the rivers and back bays.

How to Catch Tarpon

You can target Tarpon using multiple techniques, such as spinning, drifting, baitcasting, and fly fishing.

Anglers recommend using at least 15 lb test line on spinning and casting gear. Fly rods should be 10-12 weight with a 16 lb tippet (minimum). Be sure to use a heavy monofilament leader or tippet to prevent the Tarpon from biting through your line.

Tarpon are very likely to bite dead bait such as Mullet. Drifting live crab or small fish in the inlets and passes can also be effective. You can cast jerk plugs, surface plugs, and swimming plugs along with a variety of other lures.

Fly fishermen generally recommend using flies in the 3-5” range. Many rely on scissor-action feather streamers and bucktail streamers. You can cast a 7-9” white fly with dark stripes when targeting Tarpon while they feed on schools of Mullet.

Tampa Bay Tarpon Fishing Charters

As one of the hardest-fighting fish known to anglers, the Silver King will be one catch you’re sure to remember. Fishing with a local guide increases your chances of success, since many have developed their own special tricks after years of fishing for Tarpon in Tampa Bay.

You can book a Tampa Tarpon fishing charter in many nearby cities such as Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, and Sarasota to name a few. Charters which focus exclusively on Tarpon fishing cost between $500-800 for a half day trip. The price tag for a full day of fishing ranges from $700 to well over $1,000.

You can expect 2-7 hookups on a Tarpon trip, though some anglers manage as many as 20 on a full day trip when the season is right. Of course, this does not actually mean boating as many as 20 fish, since a fair number will break through your line during a fight. 

You could find yourself wrestling a Tarpon for about half an hour, so come prepared for a workout! Anglers usually try to keep the fight as short as possible to avoid hurting the fish.

All Tarpon fishing in Florida is catch-and-release only. If you have your sights set on setting a new IGFA record, you must purchase a special tag in order to keep your catch ($50, price subject to change).

Tarpon

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

Tampa Bay Tarpon Fishing Seasons

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Seasonality

Tarpon fishing in Tampa Bay varies moderately throughout the year. High season is May to August. Low season is January to March and November to December. There is no closed season.