Tarpon Bait

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Fart Daddy
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Joined: May 1st, 2020, 2:00 pm

Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by Fart Daddy »

I have caught hundreds of tarpon and for me the best bait has always been a big mullet head under a balloon. One night down south I was fishing by myself and around midnight I hooked into a monster tarpon that dragged me around the ICW for about an hour. Another boat was approaching me and I tried to wave them away but they kept getting closer. Turned out to be a couple a game wardens, they were bored so one of them hoped on board and drove the boat for me while I fought the tarpon. Finally got him to the boat and released him. One of the coolest nights of fishing I ever had.
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Srbenda
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by Srbenda »

ropeman wrote:
Srbenda wrote:The ones at the dock are BEASTS.
Is there more than one?
Usually 5 or 6 hanging out there.

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silverking
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by silverking »

Zload, thanks for the clarification. I hadn't looked at the fine print in awhile. Never needed to. While it may be legal, it's not good for fish of any size to be manhandled out of the water. That said, I can count on one hand how many 40-inch or smaller tarpon I've encountered around here. Most of those cruising through the Big Bend are migrating fish and the average size is 75-plus pounds, which more than exceeds 40 inches.

Once again, they are a special, prehistoric fish that aren't good to eat and deserve a careful release after a great fight.

Fart Daddy, you are a lucky man and it seems you may be relocated from South Florida where such a treat is not so uncommon.
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Salty Gator
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by Salty Gator »

Fart Daddy wrote:I have caught hundreds of tarpon and for me the best bait has always been a big mullet head under a balloon. One night down south I was fishing by myself and around midnight I hooked into a monster tarpon that dragged me around the ICW for about an hour. Another boat was approaching me and I tried to wave them away but they kept getting closer. Turned out to be a couple a game wardens, they were bored so one of them hoped on board and drove the boat for me while I fought the tarpon. Finally got him to the boat and released him. One of the coolest nights of fishing I ever had.

Several hundred is many many more that I’ve caught. I know a bunch of folks swear by live or cut mullet. I’ve heard live or cut ladyfish was better. But the bait they go crazy for In sw Florida are whole live skinned hardhead catfish..... go get em ( I hope SK didn’t throw up in his mouth when he read this) :lol:
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SouthernPointe
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Joined: September 18th, 2019, 2:13 pm

Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by SouthernPointe »

silverking wrote:Those were a figment of your imagination. There are no tarpon in the Big Bend. :wink:

My best lures are always DOA BaitBusters in the deep runner version. Black back/silver side or green back/silver side. If there's a lot of floating grass, the Sebile Magic Swimmers (medium size) will work.

You'll need a medium-heavy rod and 5000 class reel with at least 30-pound braid. Add a 60- to 80-pound fluorocarbon leader and tie the lure on with a loop knot. If you see the fish rolling/pushing from a distance, cast in front and slowly reel the lure so it crosses in front of them. Once you feel pressure, set the hook a couple times and hang on. You'll likely have to give chase.

To boat a tarpon (even for photos) requires a $50 tarpon tag from the FWC and that's only for potential IGFA world records. So it's almost exclusively catch and release. You can take a photo of your catch in the water alongside the boat (if you get it that far) and have a replica mount made. A tag is not required if the fish remains in the water and is quickly released.

Tarpon are wonderful, powerful animals that jump like a ballerina and run like a cheetah. They can dump 300 yards of line before you can even say Megalops atlanticus. They are truly the big-game prize of the flats and catching one is quite an accomplishment. Good luck.

BlueSpinner, glad to see you posting again. Hope you and family are all safe and well!
Looking at the baits mentioned. What color do you prefer in the Magic Swimmer?


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silverking
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by silverking »

Sorry for the delay, I was rinsing my mouth out. :lol: Actually throwing big streamer flies is very effective. They land softly, look natural and the tarpon think they are shrimp or bait morsels. That is when you don't have a 20-knot cross wind, the fly line isn't tangled around your toes or cleat and the fish don't change directions at the last moment.

For the Sebile, the herring pattern is good. Olive back, pearl sides. The larger version lands with such a plop that it spooks the fish. The medium is a more subtle presentation, plus the weedless rig will snake through floating grass.
"Sun rise and sun sets. Since the beginning, it hasn't changed yet." Little Feat
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procraftwes
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by procraftwes »

Popular bait down south is hardhead catfish tails. Sounded crazy to me but man does it work.

I had a 100+ lb one hit a little gulp shrimp about 10 yards from the boat. Spit the hook(thank god) but it was a top 3 memory for me.
Mckayaker
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by Mckayaker »

Saw a tarpon roll just downriver from the fort on Saturday August 8. Saw between eight and a dozen roll on Sunday between marker 33 and 37. They were blowing up schools of mullet. No one was fishing them. I didn’t have a rod on board either day as we were heading to the scallop grounds.


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Mckayaker
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by Mckayaker »

Sorry. Meant to say between markers 43 and 37.


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cbw5007
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Joined: May 29th, 2020, 7:53 am

Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by cbw5007 »

Tarpon is one of my favorite fish to catch. I know you said artificial bait but any fresh dead bait will work great for tarpon, mullet, pilchards, pinfish etc. Use a thin 5/0-9/0 circle hook to punch through the hard top lip. Place the bait suspended from a small foam float. Right around sunset is prime time. Make sure to bow aka give the tarpon slack when it jumps or it will likely get away.

Here is an article I wrote on the best tarpon lures and baits.
https://www.globalfishingreports.com/ta ... ing-lures/

Good luck!
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onefishtwofish
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Re: Tarpon Bait

Post by onefishtwofish »

Ducks, turkeys, flats fishing. Who has time for golf?
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