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Islamorada Fishing Charters Florida Keys: tarpon sport fishing PHOTO GALLERY

Tarpon Sport Fishing PHOTO GALLERY:
Islamorada Fishing Charters Florida Keys

Islamorada tarpon sport fishing is "spectacular". Big tarpon up to +180 lbs. crashing live baits on the surface 30 to 50 feet behind the boat. Once hooked, expect a +150 yard run and numerous jumps often so close to the boat your jaw drops. Immediately we got to chase these tarpon fast, through the bridge pilings - hard left, hard right, hard reverse, maybe a complete 360. So close we just might hit the bridge, you fear! But no time for fear - reel, reel, reel! Keep the pressure on: pull left, pull right - keep that tarpon out of the pilings.  Suddenly it jumps, maybe 10' out of the water - bow to the "silver king" with your rod so the tarpon does not throw the hook. Then the tarpon finally clears the bridge and the gauntlet of  barnacle encrusted pilings, now you can slug it out at a normal pace. 

With constant pressure you can whip these tarpon in less than 20 minutes, because we are in about 10 feet of water and you can put direct pressure on the tarpon (in contrast to fighting a tarpon in a deep pass or inlet where you have to fight the tarpon off the bottom 50 - 80 feet down for an hour or more.) Great, this magnificent sport fish  is at the side of the boat for some great photos, and then we are off to catch another tarpon - maybe a bigger one!

We crush the tarpon! We caught 328 tarpon in 77 days fishing 2003 season. That's averaging more than 4 tarpon caught per day (4.25 tarpon/ day), and during the heat of the season we averaged almost 6 tarpon per day (5.93 tarpon/ day). Of the tarpon we "caught", we averaged 6 tarpon "hooked-up and on", for 9 tarpon "striking the live baits" per day - that is a lot of action. In the last five seasons our best day was 11 big tarpon released in a day, on two days we caught 10 tarpon, and on seven different days we released 9 tarpon each day. One day we hooked-up 19 tarpon out of having 30 tarpon striking the baits, and we released 7 that day.

“The big tarpon” migrate to our area to spawn from Feb. 15 to Aug. 1. These are big tarpon, 65% are over 80 lbs. and 34% are over 100 lbs. We catch tarpon up to +180 lbs. each year and don’t catch many under 50 lbs. (90% are over 50 lbs.) 

Most often we are catching these fish in twenty minutes, even tarpon up to +180 lbs.  How do you think we can catch 10 and 11 fish in a day? I teach you the technique to beat these fish, responsibly. That way the fish is in good health, and you are not totally whipped. Ready to catch another big, wild, jumping tarpon.  Sometimes a fish will take forty-five minutes or more, what can you do but slug it out. 

How do we catch so many tarpon? Because of the bait I use. I do not buy tired, inferior live bait from the tackle stores, like 95% of the other guides. I catch “fresh, live bait” every day, bait that cannot be bought. I catch the bait before your trip, not on your fishing time, 99% of the time unless there is bad weather.

While we are tarpon fishing we catch big barracudas up to +30 lbs., and nice jacks up to 12 lbs. These are great fun on lures and flies too. We also catch big mangrove snapper up to 6 lbs. and grouper up to 15 lbs. Not only are they a fun, quick fight; they are excellent eating. Most restaurants will cook them for you.   

We are fishing from a comfortable 23' Sea Craft, open fisherman. It has a big canvas T- top (lots of shade) and ample seating (maximum: 6 anglers). It is a stable boat with a dry, comfortable ride, and it can fish any tarpon spot on any wind (where the other skiffs cannot go when it is windy). Ask about the hook-up guaranty.

From September to February, we catch the smaller “nursery tarpon” (15 to 30lbs. and occasionally up to 50 or 70lbs.) all year long, as long as the weather stays mild. This is just about the same action as when the big tarpon are here, and they are great fun on light tackle. 

If a late season cold front comes through and puts the tarpon down for a day or two, we have three options for excellent fishing.  First, this is an ideal condition for sailfish fishing 3.5 miles off the Keys. While sailfishing we can catch: blackfin tuna, wahoo, kingfish, cobia, dolphin, mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper,  groupers, and barracudas etc. If it is too choppy for you, we can fish the inside patch reefs in 15 to 50 feet of water. We can either troll for grouper or anchor and chum for snapper (mutton, yellowtail,  mangrove, and hogfish), grouper (black, gag, red, and Nassau), mackerel (Spanish and cero), barracudas, and sharks. Or we can go out to the lee side of Florida Bay and fish for big sharks, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, red and gag grouper, and sea trout. These are great options for when a cold front comes through.

In the last 10 seasons (2008) (1)


Dream It! Live It!

 11 TARPON RELEASED in a DAY: On 1 day                 

10 TARPON RELEASED in a DAY: On 2 different days

 9 TARPON RELEASED in a DAY: On 8 different days

 8 TARPON RELEASED in a DAY: On 14 different days

 7 TARPON RELEASED in a DAY: On 21 different days

 6 TARPON RELEASED in a DAY: On 27 different days

 AN INCREDIBLE DAY: Hooking 19 tarpon out of 30 tarpon

striking the baits and releasing 7 tarpon that day

1) In 2006 we had totaled 1,641 tarpon released in 8 seasons. That is an average of 205 tarpon per season. Keeping and analyzing this data is very time consuming. The past seasonal tarpon results, all currently posted in prior years "fishing reports," document what the tarpon fishing is like fishing with me. So I have decided to "stop" keeping detailed tarpon fishing data and doing the season results.

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  2003 TARPON SEASON: Another phenomenal season

 328 tarpon released!

We caught them in 77  FULL DAYS OF FISHING. This was done live bait fishing the channels.

We averaged more than 4 tarpon released per FULL DAY of fishing.

This is hot fishing action, lots of strikes and fish jumped off. We averaged 9 tarpon “striking the baits” per day while “hooking and fighting” 6 tarpon a day, then catching 4 tarpon per full day. (1999 was better than this year. We averaged just about 5 tarpon released for 9 tarpon “hooked up” for 14 tarpon “striking baits” per day. Check past fish reports for details).

THESE ARE BIG TARPON: Chances for catching a big tarpon were great. Check out the percentages. (Check out the tarpon photo gallery too.)

    a.) Tarpon over 80 pounds: 63 % of the catch

    b.) Tarpon over 100 pounds: 32 % of the catch

    c.) Tarpon over 120 pounds: 16 % of the catch

    d.) Tarpon over 140 pounds: 5 % of the catch

    e.) Tarpon over 50 pounds: 85 % of the catch

(In the last two weeks of July the big tarpon, “the spawners,” migrate out of the Keys leaving the smaller tarpon behind. We still catch big tarpon of 80 to 100 plus pounders, but the percentages start to fall. We catch more tarpon in the 50 to 70 lbs. range and more tarpon down to 30 pounds. The number of tarpon per day stays the same.)