For the most avid anglers in the St. Petersburg area, the spring and summer seasons represent the best fishing Central Florida has to offer. Every year the Atlantic tarpon, affectionately known as the “Silver King”, migrate up the gulf coast. Adult tarpon in these schools can routinely reach up to 200 pounds and 8 feet in length.
The tarpon migration draws anglers from around the world to Florida for a chance to land the fish of a lifetime. During the migration schools of tarpon with hundreds of fish can be seen throughout coastal and inshore waters near St. Petersburg.
As the water temperatures increase in late April and early May the tarpon migration starts to reach the St. Petersburg coastal waters. They can be spotted off the beaches, in deep passes, and even in nearby inshore waterways. The migration corresponds to the time periods when tarpon run deep offshore for days at a time during the new and full moons to spawn.
Hiring a knowledgeable captain, that has years of experience landing tarpon, is essential to increase the odds of success. Tarpon fishing requires specialized skills and gear, beyond that possessed by the average angler.
Captain Kevin, owner of Non-Stop Fishing Charters, has many years of experience and specializes in tarpon fishing around the St. Petersburg area. He understands local patterns and where to locate tarpon throughout the season, not just during the peak times in June and July.
The main technique used to catch tarpon during the migration relies on locating schools of migrating fish near the beaches and just offshore, or in deep water passes. Once we find the schools, the most popular technique to catch them is by using the predominant bait in the area, such as pinfish, threadfins, shrimp, or crabs.
These baits are then cast or freelined to put them in position to be seen by the fish. Artificial lures, such as large soft plastic swimbaits or hard body lures that imitate injured fish, or even flies can also be effective at stimulating a strike in certain conditions.
When a massive tarpon strikes your bait, be prepared to hold on for an impressive fight. Tarpon will immediately leap clear out of the water, often this happens multiple times during the fight. Each time violently shaking their heads to throw the hook out of their mouth. As a result, landing a tarpon is not at all guaranteed. If one is landed boat side it is a true test of the angler, captain, and gear.