Fort Myers Tarpon fishing charters started off right this year. March 1st marked the first tarpon landed on my charters. I have high hopes for this tarpon season. Long as the wind doesn’t blow us out I think it will be a really spectacular season. After 2 days of fishing we are 8-9.
With a very mild winter and water temps in the upper 70s we are starting to see Tarpon very early this year. Which means they will be here from now till early July more than likely. There is a bunch of food for the Tarpon off the Fort Myers beaches and Sanibel beaches at the moment. These hungry fish will stay and chew as long as the bait is there.
If you are a fishing enthusiast and adventurer, the tarpon is one of the most exciting gamefish to conquer. These vast, strong, and feisty swimmers are exciting to catch because of their fighting spirit when hooked. Thus, tarpon fishing is not for amateurs and not for the faint of heart.
Tarpon Charter Fishing At Fort Myers, Florida
Tarpon fishing has been around since the 1800s and is something that the waters in Fort Myers in, Florida, is known for. Fort Myers is historically significant because it is where the first-ever tarpon was caught in 1855. Since then, it has been anglers’ favorite spot and is considered one of the best tarpon fishing locations in the world.
Florida is a migratory pathway for tarpons, particularly from March until June. The sea waters are around 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal temperature for them to thrive. There is an abundance of tarpons during this time, attracting many tourists that book fishing charters.
Tarpon fishing in Fort Myers is where you can experience an exhilarating and fulfilling fishing adventure and possibly catch the trophy fish of your dreams. When you book a charter, you can request tarpon fishing guides to help you not just with fishing but also with dolphin tours and sightseeing.
How Do You Catch A Tarpon?
Catching tarpons must be on your bucket list if you’re a fishing enthusiast. It is one of the most challenging fishes to hook because of its hard mouth with sandpaper-like consistency and tiny sharp teeth. They are also powerful, and they will surely put up a fight when you reel them in. Tarpons can bite you, but they are generally not dangerous.
The best bait to catch tarpon is live ones such as shrimp, crabs, and mullets. You will need a large hook, about a 5/0 size. The best time to hunt for them is early morning or late afternoon during the spring and summer.
Can you fish for tarpons at night? Many believe it is better to go fishing at night during a full moon because water movements are higher, and the fish are pushed upwards nearer the surface. Anglers say it’s easier to catch jacks, trouts, snooks, and tarpons during a full moon.
If you happen to reel one in close to 100 lbs, the chances are that fish is estimated at around 13 to 16 years. A tarpon is considered a good catch if it is approximately 7 feet long. Its average size is 4 feet.
Tarpons are slow-growing and won’t reach their maturity until around 6 or 7 years. At a mature age, they would be about 4 feet in length. A male tarpon can live up to 30 years, while a female lives longer – about 50 years.
Tarpon fishing records are being monitored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The current all-tackle world record for the giant tarpon caught weighs 286 lbs and nine oz. or 129.98 kilos. In Florida, the heaviest weight caught through conventional tackle was 110.22 kg in 1975 in Key West. The most current catch is 1.81 kg through a fly tackle in Big Pine Key.
However, take note that tarpons are a catch-and-release-only fish. This means Florida laws protect them, and you need to purchase a special permit and get a tarpon tag before you are allowed to take it out of the water completely. Otherwise, you need to take it out of the water and release it back to the ocean quickly to assure 100% recovery and survival. This is done to control the fish population and prevent it from becoming endangered.
Tarpons are generally edible. However, not everyone wants to eat them. It is difficult to eat because it has a lot of fish bones, and according to reviews, the fish meat does not taste that good. The time and effort to remove the fish bones before eating does not make it a worthwhile fish to eat.
Inshore and Offshore Fishing
You can try two types of charter fishing—offshore and inshore.
Offshore fishing takes you to the deep part of the sea, usually beyond 30 meters deep. This is where you can find larger game fish and greater chances of catching a giant tarpon. Deep-sea fishing is where you can also find tuna, snappers, hogfish, cobia, sheepshead, king mackerel, Bonita, amberjacks, and groupers. Winter time is usually a great time to go offshore fishing.
Inshore fishing is also called bay fishing. This means fishing near the coast or anywhere less than 30 meters deep. Waters are calmer, and there are many opportunities for sightseeing. You can catch tarpons, snappers, trout, and other fish varieties in these areas.
Tarpons usually dwell in the deeper parts of the ocean, but sometimes they can be found near the bay when the tide is high to feed on crabs, shrimp, and other smaller fish.
Booking Your Charter Fishing Boat
Booking a charter fishing boat for deep-sea fishing activities will cost several hundred dollars at hourly rates. The cost will vary based on the ship and offered services. One boat can usually seat 4-6 people. A typical trip is a minimum of 4 to 6 hours, and the longer ones will last for 8 to 12 hours.
The boat will have a cooler to store food and drinks, which can also double as a seat. Fishing gears and equipment are usually included. As responsible clients, you need to wear proper attire and bring food to fit into the cooler. Bring sunscreen, towels, sunglasses, and a small tote bag for personal protection.
Tarpon feeding? It’s possible at Fort Myers. Sometimes the docks allow tourists to buy buckets of baitfish and feed the tarpons residing in the area. Tarpons are smart enough to get only the bait in between your fingers, but it’s also not uncommon for the tarpons to latch on the feeder’s hand every once in a while.
Half-day inshore fishing is the most commonly booked charter in Florida. The guides for the trips are experienced and professionally licensed captains. A good charter boat should be complete with fishing gear and safety equipment.
Trips usually start as early as 6 am to 7 am, but the time can change quickly depending on the weather and the tide. When you book a charter fishing boat, it’s essential to keep the schedule of the group open because plans can quickly change.
In the end, it should be the captain’s discretion whether or not it’s safe to push through with the trip. It’s important to remember that tarpons are best caught in the morning and the afternoon. So don’t be bummed out if the trip didn’t push through as scheduled in the morning. Sometimes, the afternoon sessions might be a better option.
Whether inshore or offshore, tarpon fishing in Fort Myers is an excellent adventure for families and seasoned anglers. Depending on your purpose and what you want to achieve on the trip, you need to book charters during the suitable months. Tarpon charter fishing is a fulfilling experience that’s definitely worth including on one’s bucket list.