Every spring there is a huge migration of tarpon to Key West and the Florida Keys. Tarpon are huge fish that can reach 150# and be 5 to 6 feet long. They are very sought after sportfish and anglers come from all over the world to fish for tarpon, these amazing fish.
One thing that separates the tarpon from other big sport fish is that they are targeted inshore. These fish cruise the shallow bays, channels and flats of the Florida Keys. Often they can be targeted on small flats skiffs, this can be a real bonus when the wind is blowing. No need to go off shore to fish.
Tarpon are catch and release fishery all fish have to be released alive unless you purchase a tarpon tag from the state of Florida. They have have very little food value and are much more valuable as a sport fish.
Tackle for Tarpon
Tarpon are usually targeted on heavy spinning gear. Some people use conventional gear and also people fly fish for tarpon. Often you will fish from an anchored boat with a quick release on the anchor. This is so you can disconnect the boat from the anchor and chase the fish down.
They can be strangely finicky eaters, sometimes there will be hundreds of them in the water right by the boat and yet none of them will eat the bait.
Bait for Tarpon
Tarpon are often targeted with live bait particularly crabs, mullet and pinfish. They will sometimes be in the mood to eat dead bait as well. For the true sportfishing purists they are targeted on the fly. The vast majority of people fishing for tarpon with bait are going to be using circle hooks with fluorocarbon leader.
Some places where the tarpon are common there will be other fish as well. Large mangroves and crevelle jacks will often eat bait meant for tarpon. Sharks are also common, in fact huge sharks target the tarpon migration. It is not uncommon to see huge hammerheads and bull sharks cruising the same areas where tarpon school up. The bahia Honda bridge is known for the packs of sharks that are mixed in with the tarpon.
Key West harbor is one of the hot spots in the keys to fish for tarpon and come tarpon season you will see numerous boats in the harbor fishing for tarpon. Bahia Honda bridge and long key bridge are popular as well.