We are in the midst of early tarpon season, and it looks like a good one so far. Our local fish that show up to feed in April and May are right on cue, taking up residence over structure and under bridges in deep water. The tarpon will feed best during the strongest tides, waiting for easy meals in the ripping currents.
How to Catch Them
Top baits for this early season will be large threadfin herring and small live crabs. The herring can be caught at many deep water structures throughout the bay, and they can be seen flickering at the surface just about anywhere. The crabs can be netted easily on the surface with a dip net. With a crab, we drift along with the tide, just as the crabs do naturally. Let the tarpon find the crab, which they usually do.
Fighting the Tarpon
Once you get one hooked-up it is critical to fight the fish properly. These early season tarpon have lots of stamina and can take an angler deep into the evening trying to wear them out. There is a defined technique to wearing these giants down. A slow pull up of the rod followed by quick cranks of the reel as you lower the rod is the only way. Make you rod pulls in the opposite direction of the fish’s heading. Make them work always. If you rest, they rest. Work smart and use the leverage of the long rod to work the fish, not your arms. Your arms will tire and become useless. It is man vs. beast.