Get ready for one of the most intense aerial displays put on by a fish. Tarpon are the inshore blue marlin. Sought after by many and conquered by few. But not to worry, we will declassify the top secret tips that will surely have you fighting the Silver King.
1.) Beach fishing
In a nut shell, Tarpon are probably the most over-thought fish there is. Spinning rods are a must, and the longer, the better. The typical rod of choice is an 8ft medium heavy action rod for a longer more accurate cast. Braided line has quickly made its way to the top among anglers, and 50lb to 65lb is the standard. The same basic rules apply when targeting Tarpon that you would use for beach Snook fishing. You want to stay ahead of the school and cast well in front them, letting them swim to your bait. DO NOT CAST ON TOP OF THE SCHOOL.
This is a big fish, and a good line to line connection is a must.
Long leaders are a must as well. This will prevent tail whips on the braid and get you more bites. A good knot for this is either a Slim Beauty or a PR Bobbin. Look for schools rolling and gulping air on the surface and watch to see what direction they are moving. Fish with a float 5 to 6ft away from the hook, and use a 3 inch oval or 4 inch pear float. Use 60 to 80lb fluorocarbon and a 4/0 to 6/0 4x strong hook. A good hook to use is a Gamakatsu 984 series hook. Bait choices include crabs, pumpkin seeds, threadfins, green backs, and pinfish.
You can also anchor up on a sand bar edge or over inshore reefs and fish dead shad on the bottom. The preferred outfit to use for this type of Tarpon fishing is a large conventional reel with 50lb mono and 100lb to 150lb leader. You are going to want to use a bigger hook such as a 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook. A good hook choice for this is a Gamakatsu 2094 series. Conventional reels are used for this type of fishing because you will use the clicker free spool clicker feature.
2.) Bridge fishing from of a boat
There are two solid ways to bridge fish from a boat. One is anchoring and chumming to draw the fish to your boat. The other way is drifting from up current down to the bridge and repeating this process until you hook up. When anchoring and chumming, be sure to have a 5 gallon bucket full of threadfins or green backs. Cut them into small pieces and have a constant flow of a small amount drifting back with the tide. You want to be up tide of the bridge and drifting your baits back to the first and second shadow lines.
The best way to fish your bait is to have one live bait on a shadow line and another live bait on another. Then, fish a piece of cut bait on one shadow line and a piece of cut bait on the other. You want to use copper rigging wire to put a small weight on your line so that when the fish hits, the weight will break off. This will help keep the weight from throwing the hook, and it will keep your bait at the same depth as your chum. (Link for diagram for copper rigging wire here – DIAGRAM PENDING).
3.) Bridge fishing from a pier or bridge
One of the most effective and common ways to fish from a pier is with an outrigger. This technique is similar to the ones used on a boat. To use this technique, you will need a spinning rod that you will use to snag the bottom. Most people will use a PVC pipe tied to a rail that the spinning rod will go in. You’re going to use a 7 inch piece of line, a snap swivel, a 3oz. lead weight, and a clothes pin. (Insert photo of clip – PENDING) This is what will take your main line out and will let you make a stationary float that will not let your bait move side to side. Your main rod should be rigged with a 5 to 7ft leader using a swivel. You are going to use a rubber band or a small piece of mono line tied to the swivel. You will then use the mono or rubber band to attach to the clothes pin. Then, your main reel is placed into free spool to deploy the bait to the desired spot. Then, your reel is place back into gear with a medium to tight drag. When the fish hits, your main line will pop free from the clothes pin, and the fish will be on your line.
Popular baits are Pinfish, Threadfins, Green Backs, Grass Grunts and Ladyfish. Hook size will vary with the size bait used but is typically a 4/0 to 7/0. A great model hook is 984 series Gamakatsu.
4.) Rods and Reels
For beach fishing we would suggest a Dogfish Stik 8ft 12-40 spinner with a Shimano Stradic 8000 spooled with 50lb braid. This outfit will also work well for bridge fishing. For Pier fishing, we recommend our Dogfish Stik #16 with a Shimano Tld 25 spooled with 50lb monofilament.