Plentiful, strong, enormous, and these fish jump like demons. Tarpon or "Silver King" as it is more commonly known is a favorite game fish of anglers everywhere. Of all the fish available in Islamorada, the favorite fishing spot in the Florida Keys, it's no surprise that many anglers prefer tarpon above all others. But be forewarned, tarpon fishing can be addictive!
Is an Islamorada guided fishing charter trip for you?
Each year, thousands of people from around the world travel to the Florida Keys to experience the massive run of tarpon. This chain of islands just off the southern tip of Florida offer more variety in terms of saltwater fish species than just about anywhere else in the United States.
Let a pro show you the ropes!
Even an experienced sport fisherman can benefit from hiring a charter fishing service by relying on the captain’s knowledge of where the best fishing can be found, but for novice fishermen, it's the only smart thing to do.
Not only do you NOT have to worry about getting a saltwater fishing license in Florida (charter boats carry a license for their passengers, so those anglers are covered while fishing on that vessel), an experienced captain can teach you the proper techniques and help you with your first sport fishing outing.
Typical tarpon size
Tarpon in the 80-100 lb class are common in the Keys; fish more than 150 lbs are caught regularly. Tarpon can reach sizes up to 8 feet and can weigh up to 300 lbs.
Prime tarpon fishing season
March-July are prime fishing season for tarpon in the Florida Keys, although you can catch them year 'round. Through summer and early fall, plenty of small resident tarpon in the 30-60 lb class can be found around bridges at night.
Best bait to use when tarpon fishing
- Live bait: threadfins, pilchards, small (silver dollar size) crabs
- Dead bait: can be used, but is often not as effective
Fishing rods and lines
One of the great things about fishing with an Islamorada fishing charter is that they will have onboard all the fishing equipment and bait you need. Equipment will vary according to the fishing guide, but generally it's a good idea to use a gimbaled rod of a heavier weight than your line rating. Oh, and you'll want a good strong fighting belt!
Fascinating facts about tarpon
- Fossil research shows that tarpon have been swimming in our oceans since prehistoric times.
- The life span of a tarpon can be in excess of 50 years. The oldest tarpon in captivity lived to be 63 years old.
- The Florida state record for tarpon caught with conventional tackle is 243 pounds, caught by Gus Bell in Key West in 1975 on just 20 lb test line. The all-tackle world record (additionally certified as the 80 lb class record) for a giant tarpon is 286 lbs, 9 oz caught by Max Domecq in Rubane, Guinea-Bissau, Africa on March 20, 2003.
- An FWC study (details here) showed that only 37% of all hooked tarpon actually made it to the boat, hence, the "sport" in this sport fishery.
- Tarpon are toothless and they swallow their prey whole. Its mouth is mostly hard, boney, and rough like sandpaper. It takes a hard hook-set to drive the hook home.
Florida tarpon begin gathering near in April for the journey to their offshore spawning grounds. In these staging areas, scientists and anglers have observed schools of tarpon swimming in circles. This behavior, known as forming a daisy chain, may be a sort of prenuptial tarpon tango that prepares the fish for spawning. (source: Sea Stats)
Ready to book your Islamorada guided fishing charter trip?
Check out our detailed listings of expert fishing guides at this link:
Islamorada - The Sportfishing Capital of the World
How to Select A Saltwater Fishing Guide
Top 25 Reasons for Hiring A Guide
Going Fishing? Travel Tips - Islamorada, Florida - the sportfishing capital of the world
Easiest Way to Fish in The Sport Fishing Capital of the World, Islamorada? With a Guide!
No fish tales here! Record fish frequently caught in Islamorada--Jewel of the Florida Keys