You see, for years it has been thought that tarpon head offshore to spawn, and that the eggs and larvae ride the tides back into the backwaters where they spend the next few years of their life. This idea doesn't sound too far-fetched for areas with access to the ocean, but the north end of the Indian River and the south end of the Mosquito Lagoon are far removed from any open inlet system. This begs the question of whether these fish breed inshore, much like the bull redfish in the Mosquito Lagoon. DNA data has been collected on these baby tarpon for a few years now by a few of the best tarpon fisherman in the area. The DNA samples are taken with the items provided in the free kits available directly from the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) or at local tackle shops. Once samples are taken, they are sent to the FWC-Fish and Wildlife Research Institute for analysis and charting.
The little tarpon bite has been wide open these past few days with all the rain we have had, so I knew it was time to go looking for them. My favorite way to target them is with a fly rod. These pint-sized tarpon are just as aggressive as the hundred pound version, and will take a fly if it matches the size of the prey they are feeding on. I got to the first spot just at first light, and I wasn't disappointed. Everywhere I looked there were tarpon rolling - there must have been hundreds of them. On the first cast with the fly rod, I was rewarded with this amazing mini replica of a hundred pounder:
Once a DNA sample was taken, he was placed back into his nursery. A little while later I picked up another one also on fly:
My buddy Capt. Scott Rawson showed up with his brand new fly combo, in search of his first tarpon on fly. By this time, most of the fish had stopped rolling, so we moved to another area where I have found them in the past. Scott made a great cast in tight quarters, and got his first Tarpon:
I also ended up with a few more.
If you fish for tarpon of any size, please take the time to get a DNA sample and send it in for processing (instructions are in the package) so that future anglers may enjoy catching these amazing fish.
My fish came on a fly I call Trey's Mullet: