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Thursday, 27 May 2010 02:00

Tarpon Time

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South East Report
5 – 22/23 – 2010
“Tarpon Time”
The annual madness has begun, the Silver Kings are here.  Our annual migration of tarpon has shown up off our local beaches, and after the terrible winter we had, they are a welcome sight. I spent the past weekend with a dedicated group of anglers in pursuit of the most sought after game fish in Florida. We take a somewhat different approach than most, in that we stick to using artificial lures or fly’s in our attempt.  Now I don’t claim to be an expert in this endeavor, I will say that I have been doing it for awhile both from land when I was a kid, to boats when I was older. But tackling a pissed off tarpon from a kayak is a whole different matter. In my opinion, it’s not something a beginner should even attempt. Too many things can and do go wrong and unless you have the experience in both fighting a large fish and time in your kayak, it shouldn’t be attempted. But as they say, there is always a first time, so I will pass along some of the tips and techniques that I have picked up along the way.
Tackle
ROD -  Shimano Teramar TMS-80H 8’  Power: Heavy  Action: Fast
This rod has the backbone to fight a big fish, but still has enough action to cast the lures I use.
REEL – Shimano Spheros 6000, spooled with 40 or 50 lb braid. I use Power Pro, but your favorite braid will do. I have had good luck with Power Pro, but I have heard from others that don’t like it in this higher pound test.  I will double the last 6 feet with a spider hitch and finish it off with 60 or 80 lb fluorocarbon leader. I tie an Albright knot, again there are many knots, use your favorite. A simple loop knot for my lure.
LURES – There are a lot of lures out there, the two that I use the most are the DOA Bait Buster, trolling model or Storm 4” Swim Shad. Another lure that the old timers swear by is the 12 Fathom Shad body (Sorry I can’t remember the exact name of this lure)
DOA Bait Buster, trolling model.
Storm Swim Shad and 12 Fathom
TACTICS
First of all, never try fishing for tarpon by yourself. I know of people that do it all the time, but I would advise against for a couple of reasons. It’s always good to have a buddy in case something goes wrong, and a partner is am must in helping to revive a worn out tarpon. I will cover this later.
Beach Tarpon usually involves getting up well before the crack of dawn; you want to be on the water just as the sun is coming up. Launching from the beach can be a dicey proposition. It’s not always flat calm, or if it is you might have rollers coming in. This is where the experience factor comes into play. You can always come to play another day, so it’s best not to push a bad situation. Once you’re out, we usually set up with our backs to the beach, keeping the sun to our back. The fish are usually traveling in a certain direction, so we scan the horizon for them and set up just in front of them as they travel parallel to the beach. If they are “daisy chaining” you try to cast out in front of the chain in hopes that at least a couple of the fish will see the lure. Likewise if they are traveling in a straight line, cast out in front of the travel path in hopes one will pick it up.
Once you hook up, the fight begins. A couple of things that are a must at this point, a drift chute and a knife. A drift chute that you can retrieve quickly will put extra pressure on the fish, attached to your kayak via an anchor trolley or some other way. Retrieve quickly? Yes, if the fish makes a run behind you, you want to be able to dump the water from the chute and get it out of the water in a hurry. What’s the knife for?  Well, with tarpon come sharks. Big sharks. The last thing you want is a tired tarpon trying to hide under your kayak while a big bull or hammerhead is doing its best to eat it. While this happens more often in the big passes like Boca Grande, it can and does happen off the beach. It’s best to cut the line and let the tarpon take its chances in the open water. How long is too long to fight a tarpon from a kayak? That’s hard to gauge, some fish can be whipped easily, while others can be real dogs and fight to near exhaustion. I would say anything longer than forty five minutes and you should think about cutting the fish off.  The lure will rust away soon enough and there’s no real reason to fight a tarpon that long. But that’s a judgment call. Its best to let one of these great fish swim away to fight another day than it is to fight it to its exhaustion.
So, you’ve caught one and taken the hero pictures, now what? The most important part of this whole endeavor, you have to revive the fish. This is where your partner comes in handy; using a tow line attached to your kayak you can have your partner pull you forcing water through the tarpons gills. This procedure doesn’t take too long and soon the fish should be kicking and ready to release.
With an early arrival, this year promises to be one of the best. Perhaps we can put our terrible winter behind us and now concentrate on the Silver King.

The annual madness has begun, the Silver Kings are here.  Our annual migration of tarpon has shown up off our local beaches, and after the terrible winter we had, they are a welcome sight. I spent the past weekend with a dedicated group of anglers in pursuit of the most sought after game fish in Florida. We take a somewhat different approach than most, in that we stick to using artificial lures or fly’s in our attempt.  Now I don’t claim to be an expert in this endeavor, I will say that I have been doing it for awhile both from land when I was a kid, to boats when I was older. But tackling a pissed off tarpon from a kayak is a whole different matter.....

In my opinion, it’s not something a beginner should even attempt. Too many things can and do go wrong and unless you have the experience in both fighting a large fish and time in your kayak, it shouldn’t be attempted. But as they say, there is always a first time, so I will pass along some of the tips and techniques that I have picked up along the way. Tackle

ROD -  Shimano Teramar TMS-80H 8’  Power: Heavy  Action: Fast  This rod has the backbone to fight a big fish, but still has enough action to cast the lures I use.

REEL – Shimano Spheros 6000, spooled with 40 or 50 lb braid. I use Power Pro, but your favorite braid will do. I have had good luck with Power Pro, but I have heard from others that don’t like it in this higher pound test.  I will double the last 6 feet with a spider hitch and finish it off with 60 or 80 lb fluorocarbon leader. I tie an Albright knot, again there are many knots, use your favorite. A simple loop knot for my lure.

LURES – There are a lot of lures out there, the two that I use the most are the DOA Bait Buster, trolling model or Storm 4” Swim Shad. Another lure that the old timers swear by is the 12 Fathom Shad body (Sorry I can’t remember the exact name of this lure)

DOA Bait Buster, trolling model Storm Swim Shad and 12 Fathom
DOA Bait Buster storm swim shad

TACTICS
First of all, never try fishing for tarpon by yourself. I know of people that do it all the time, but I would advise against for a couple of reasons. It’s always good to have a buddy in case something goes wrong, and a partner is am must in helping to revive a worn out tarpon. I will cover this later.

Beach Tarpon usually involves getting up well before the crack of dawn; you want to be on the water just as the sun is coming up. Launching from the beach can be a dicey proposition. It’s not always flat calm, or if it is you might have rollers coming in. This is where the experience factor comes into play. You can always come to play another day, so it’s best not to push a bad situation. Once you’re out, we usually set up with our backs to the beach, keeping the sun to our back. The fish are usually traveling in a certain direction, so we scan the horizon for them and set up just in front of them as they travel parallel to the beach. If they are “daisy chaining” you try to cast out in front of the chain in hopes that at least a couple of the fish will see the lure. Likewise if they are traveling in a straight line, cast out in front of the travel path in hopes one will pick it up. 

Once you hook up, the fight begins. A couple of things that are a must at this point, a drift chute and a knife. A drift chute that you can retrieve quickly will put extra pressure on the fish, attached to your kayak via an anchor trolley or some other way. Retrieve quickly? Yes, if the fish makes a run behind you, you want to be able to dump the water from the chute and get it out of the water in a hurry. What’s the knife for?  Well, with tarpon come sharks. Big sharks. The last thing you want is a tired tarpon trying to hide under your kayak while a big bull or hammerhead is doing its best to eat it. While this happens more often in the big passes like Boca Grande, it can and does happen off the beach. It’s best to cut the line and let the tarpon take its chances in the open water. How long is too long to fight a tarpon from a kayak? That’s hard to gauge, some fish can be whipped easily, while others can be real dogs and fight to near exhaustion. I would say anything longer than forty five minutes and you should think about cutting the fish off.  The lure will rust away soon enough and there’s no real reason to fight a tarpon that long. But that’s a judgment call. Its best to let one of these great fish swim away to fight another day than it is to fight it to its exhaustion.

Tarpon

So, you’ve caught one and taken the hero pictures, now what? The most important part of this whole endeavor, you have to revive the fish. This is where your partner comes in handy; using a tow line attached to your kayak you can have your partner pull you forcing water through the tarpons gills. This procedure doesn’t take too long and soon the fish should be kicking and ready to release.

With an early arrival, this year promises to be one of the best. Perhaps we can put our terrible winter behind us and now concentrate on the Silver King.

Group

 

Read 4687 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 May 2010 05:50
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