April 13, 2024

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The Angler’s Guide to Tarpon Fishing In Miami

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Tarpon fishing in Miami is a treat for anglers of all ages. Whether we’re talking about someone who’s been fishing for decades or is perhaps just picking up a fishing rod for the first time, it’s an exciting experience for everyone. Tarpon are monster saltwater game fish, ruling the inshore waters wherever they are. After all, they are nicknamed “Silver Kings.”

Photo courtesy of Captain Martin Carranza

And Miami is up there with the best in the world for Tarpon fishing, thanks to its warm climate and populated waters. These southeast Florida waters carry loads of marine species that create a diverse environment, providing many sources of food to hungry creatures. As Tarpon are carnivores, they target smaller fish, crustaceans, and even some insects. There’s no issue when it comes to finding food in Miami, as there’s plenty to go around for everyone.

But that’s enough of the introduction. Let’s dive into what exactly makes Tarpon fishing so spectacular. I’ll then walk you through the ins and outs of targeting them in the “Magic City.”

What do Tarpon look like?

There are no prizes for guessing the color of the Silver Kings! But you’ll see a flash when they jolt by as the light reflects off their shiny scales. They can also have hints of blue, green, purple, or gold in their scales sometimes too, depending on the water.

A man in a blue shirt and baseball cap, sitting on a fishing charter in Miami's backcountry waters, holding a small Tarpon on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Off The Hook – Homestead

If you catch a “Poon” on the beach in crystal-clear water, your Tarpon will look clearer and cleaner. But if you hook into one in the bays, they’ll usually be a bit darker and perhaps even have that slight gold tint due to the murkier water.

Another feature that identifies Tarpon is their body shape. Their long solid body is accompanied by thick heads and large mouths. The mouth of a Tarpon is very tough and can easily cut lines or hands. Most anglers will recommend using gloves to protect yourself when grabbing hold of these fish!

Heavier leaders are also recommended to prevent the fish from cutting through your line – aka fraying. You can even use a wired leader to block them from cutting the line completely. However, you may have less chances of hooking into one as they can spy the leader in the water.

What makes Tarpon so cool?

The fins of a Tarpon allow them to glide through the water and make smooth and sharp turns. The powerhouse in the back – the tail – allows them to swim extra fast. It also helps them build up the power to leap through the air, whether going after bait or trying to get loose from a fishing line.

You’ll notice the thick tail when releasing a Tarpon, especially if it’s a big one. And if you have smaller hands (like me), it can be a challenge to get a good grip on it, so be careful you don’t lose your fish!

Another thing to note about Tarpon is their incredible slime. If you catch a small one and bring it into the boat for photos and dehooking, there’s a good chance your boat (and yourself) will be covered in Tarpon slime. Even though it may be a little gross, think of the slime as the reward after catching one!

What else to keep in mind about Tarpon?

A Tarpon’s strength is incredible and is something all anglers should respect. It can be difficult to reel one in after hooking them, as they twist and turn all sorts of ways trying to pull the hook out. And they’re successful a lot of the time!

A view from behind of an angler fly fishing in Key West, leaning over the side of a boat, while a Tarpon leaps out of the water in the distance having been caught on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Fish Finder Adventures

A trick to prevent this from happening is to “bow.” Whenever your Tarpon goes to make a big jump, tilt your rod down, and have your rod tip point at the fish. This helps prevent the line from breaking by keeping the tension balanced.

One more important thing to keep in mind about Tarpon is their release. As they’re strong and very energetic – and at times produce long fights – they’ll often get pretty tired out. It’s essential to give them all the time they need to recover. Be sure you revive the fish well and have water flow through its mouth and throughout its body. You’ll know when your fish is ready to head back to their habitat once they start to thrash and give a big kick.

Now that you know a good amount about Tarpon, let’s dive into how to go Tarpon fishing in Miami!

Where to Go Tarpon Fishing in Miami

In order to successfully go Tarpon fishing in Miami, you’ll have to know where to find them! There are a few areas in Miami that hold good numbers of Tarpon, but it all depends on a few things…

Two female anglers up to their waists in the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys, holding a large Tarpon, partially submerged in the water on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Outgoing Angling

First things first – if you aren’t sure where to look, how to get out there, or if you aren’t really interested in exploring yourself, book a fishing charter. Miami Tarpon guides have spent many days on the water and know exactly where the fish are and how to get them to bite. Fishing licenses and equipment are always covered, and some captains will even have food and drinks on board as well!

There are plenty of options to choose from, especially depending on what time of day you prefer and what area you may want to try out. FishingBooker can give you some of the best opportunities when it comes to Tarpon fishing in Miami.

But if you have your own way of getting on the water, you’ll want to fish around bridges, passes, bays, inlets, flats, piers, and beaches. These are key hotspots for schools of Tarpon. If you’re fishing on land, you can still head to these areas and cast your line out as far as you can.

But that’s not all. You won’t only find Tarpon in the ocean in Miami. You can find a few in some ponds, lands, weirs, and canals that have a connection to the sea.

Tarpon Fishing Bait

Live bait is usually the best when Tarpon fishing in Miami. Mullet, threadfin herring, pilchards, pass crabs, ladyfish, and pinfish are all popular baits for Tarpon. If they aren’t biting live, using fresh cut bait may also entice the bite. If fishing on land and away from the ocean, shiners, tilapia, cichlids, etc., are some options to try.

You can also use artificial lures, and there are plenty that anglers know to be successful. Lures like jig heads and swimbaits, flukes, and topwater lures all are among the popular choices.

Best Conditions for Tarpon Fishing in Miami

Tide is a substantial factor when Tarpon fishing in Miami. It’s possible to hook a Tarpon during any kind of tide, but that’s more rare than common. It’s a good idea to plan your trips around the best tides. Tarpon are usually most active during a tide that has a strong current.

An angler in a long-sleeved shirt and hat, up to his waist in the water near Miami, holding a large Tarpon that's half-submerged in the water
Photo courtesy of Captain Martin Carranza

A lot of anglers agree that fishing on a high outgoing tide will give you the best shot. Here, the water will be high enough for the Tarpon to have made their way closer inshore. When they’re inshore, they’ll stick to a lot of areas where the current rips through, waiting for bait fish to pass by. When they’re hungry, you can catch their attention easily if your bait lands in front of their eyes.

Time of day can also be influential. Even though Tarpon like the warm waters of Miami, if it’s too hot and sunny outside, they tend to move towards deeper waters. Or they may not be as hungry. That being said, it’s a good idea to focus on fishing in the mornings and evenings when the sun is peaking out. But as always, you can still hook some even during the hottest part of the day. Sometimes Tarpon are just unpredictable!

One more thing to consider when it comes to Tarpon fishing in Miami is the time of year. As Miami has a warm climate and the water never really gets to freezing temperatures, Tarpon are in the area year-round. Sometimes, you can hook up to some in the middle of winter, while other days you may not see a single one roll at all. What did I say about them being unpredictable?

But, generally, the prime time for Tarpon fishing in Miami is from May to August. This is when Tarpon congregate in the area due to their annual migration, and the warmer waters make for a happy habitat.

Tarpon Fishing Gear

As Tarpon are feisty critters, it’s a good idea to have a reliable setup that can handle big fish. A lot of the Tarpon on Florida’s east coast can reach big sizes, so it’s best to be prepared.

An angler wearing a neck bluff around his face leans over the side of a boat and holds a Tarpon with one hand under the stomach and one in the fish's mouth
Photo courtesy of Miami Inshore Fishing Charters

A common Tarpon setup for fishing in Miami first begins with a medium to medium-heavy rod. Get yourself a rod that’s capable of bending without worrying it’ll break. Next, pair it with a reel sized 5000 or more. You can downgrade if you want to stick inshore and locate smaller ones but for the big girls, you’ll want that bigger reel for sure.

You’ll also want a sturdy braid – something of at least 50 pounds. Add a leader of a minimum of 30 pounds (but 50 and up is probably your go-to). Finish it off with a circle hook of 5/0 or higher, and you’ve got yourself a basic spinning setup for Tarpon fishing in Miami. There are conventional, bait casting, and fly fishing setups out there too. Look around and find what suits you best!

Miami Tarpon Fishing Regulations

Tarpon fishing regulations are the same throughout Florida, therefore Miami doesn’t have any specific guidelines. The common rules are that Tarpon over 40 inches must remain in the water, and none are to be harvested. The only exception is if you have an annual Tarpon tag for record purposes.

As always in Florida, an annual fishing license is required to legally fish these waters. However, as mentioned above, fishing with a saltwater charter means you’re exempt from this.

Tarpon Fishing in Miami: Truly Magical

An aerial view of South Beach, Miami, with the ocean to the right of the image and high-rise on the left separated by a golden beach on a sunny day

Miami is a wonderful location to get access to some Tarpon-rich waters. Whether you’re a new or experienced angler, these Tarpon will have you wanting to come back constantly. Even if you catch 10 in a row, despite any soreness or tiredness, you’ll be ready to get your next bait and hook into another one! Find your opportunity to go Tarpon fishing in Miami by obtaining the right charter through Fishing Booker!

Have you ever been Tarpon fishing in Miami? How was your experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

The post How to Go Tarpon Fishing in Miami: An Angler’s Guide  appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Caitlyn Gatrell
Title: How to Go Tarpon Fishing in Miami: An Angler’s Guide 
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/tarpon-fishing-in-miami/
Published Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2023 10:50:02 +0000

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