Tangle with a tarpon on the flats of the Florida Keys and you'll see why this species has survived remarkably unchanged for 100 million years. First timers have been known to freeze in place, lose the rod overboard, or bruise their knuckles on the wildly churning reel handle.
We’re graced by some of the most spectacular tarpon fishing in the world here in Big Pine and the Lower Florida Keys because of our outstanding water clarity compared to other destinations. It's not uncommon to watch a 100 pound fish glide slowly up behind your fly or bait, almost like a trout getting ready to sip a mayfly. The tarpon inhales in a powerful yet graceful swirl. During the first seconds of the hookup, the fish launches itself out of the water in a jaw-dropping display.
The most popular but not the only months to fish for tarpon are April, May and June. That’s when the big migratory tarpon flood the Atlantic side of the islands and certain areas of the backcountry on their pre-spawning ritual.
In addition, in late January or February, big local tarpon are drawn into the shallows by the first warm, calm waters of the spring. Anglers lucky enough to hit this early push are in for a treat. It’s like Daytona Beach at spring break for these fish.
But really, it’s possibly to catch a beautiful tarpon here during any month of the year. Tarpon turn from larvae to fish among our mangrove islands, making our backcountry a nursery and playground for tarpon up to 40 pounds. Fishing for them can be especially good in the heat of summer and on a warm winter day.
The tarpon's mouth is basically bone so you've got to drive the hook home to have any chance of keeping him on. Even so, "jumping" a tarpon without landing it is nothing to be ashamed of. Even the best tarpon fisherman might land just one of every three fish hooked here in the Florida Keys