Tarpon fishing Naples, Marco Island, Southwest Florida

It’s peak tarpon season right now and most of my trips are tarpon trips and I love it. There are great days, so so days and slow days but it’s a great challenge trying to figure tarpon out. There are many factors, such as what depth they’re going to be in, what bait they want to eat, what color to make the floats, what tides they like, how to position the boat etc. It’s like trying to figure out a complicated puzzle but a very rewarding challenge.

The annual spring tarpon migration so far is consistent with past years. I like to fish for them off the beaches but we’re also catching some big fish in the backcountry and the passes. Some mornings they seem to be everywhere and other mornings very few fish. Tides play an important role and the fish tend to move best when the tides are moving either way. Sometimes tides too strong don’t allow us to present the bait correctly and sometimes if the tides are too slow not much is happening. That’s why when I promote tarpon trips throughout the year I try to pick good tides. Nothing is for sure but we try to optimize our chances.

I don’t normally fish more than two anglers on tarpon trips but a situation arose where we had four anglers on my boat. I thought how do I make this work by keeping everybody fishing without getting tangled. The tide was running strong and moving our baits fairly quickly. Typically we look for tarpon rolling or head waking but that day it was choppy and very difficult to see the fish so consequently hard to know where to put the baits. So I threw out four baits separated about 50’ each. After the lead bait would get horizontal to the boat I’d have everyone rotate rods. This way our baits would start in about 8.5’ of water and end up in about 10.5’ essentially covering the depths the tarpon prefer. We continuously kept rotating rods and It worked out well, I think we went three for five that day which was great considering the sketchy conditions, actually, 3-5 is great any day. I client recently asked me what’s a good day, I said: “if we see one it’s a good day, if we jump one is a really good day and if we land one it’s a great day”.

Going forward tides will be slower early this coming week on the quarter moon but will quickly recover as we move towards the full moon on June 14. Peak tarpon time is now into early July.

I have some openings near the end of the month, see the calendar below for availability.

Fishing in Southwest Florida

The southwest Florida region extends from Charlotte Harbor in the north to the famous Ten Thousand Islands in the south. It encompasses Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties. People come to this part of the state, one of the fastest growing areas in the country, for its favorable climate, abundance of natural areas, wildlife watching opportunities and, of course, because of the region’s legacy as a fishing hot spot.

Southwest Florida has some of the best backwater fishing in the state. For the uninitiated, backwater fishing, or backcountry fishing, is angling in the extensive network of bays, mangrove islands and tidal creeks that permeate the region. There are thousands of miles of shoreline, countless oyster bars and acres of seagrass beds that attract an abundance of salt water fish.

Roaming these waters are four of the state’s most sought after gamefish, the snook, redfish, spotted seatrout, and tarpon. Thousands of anglers come to southwest Florida each year for the chance at a grand slam, catching one individual of each species in one day.

Perhaps the most significant factor contributing to the region’s excellent fishing reputation are the vast tracks of fresh and salt water wetlands protected by state and/or federal laws. The Charlotte Harbor – Pine Island Sound area, one of the largest estuaries in Florida, has relatively clean water that supports extensive grass beds and stands of mangroves. Several large sections of this estuarine complex are designated as state aquatic preserves and there are strict regulations that protect the water quality and marine life in the system Rookery Bay, between Naples and Marco Island, and the waters from Marco Island into the upper part of the Ten Thousand Islands are also Aquatic Preserves. The upper part of the Ten Thousand Islands is slated to become a National Wildlife Refuge while the lower portion has been a part of Everglades National Park for many years.