Tarpon are the most sought after species targeted as we approach the month of June.
Anglers can be seen patrolling the waters around Anna Maria Island morning, noon and night with hopes of hooking into a silver king.
Whether along the beaches, the passes, or in the bays, these large prehistoric-like fish can be found lurking in the shadows awaiting their next victim.
And that next victim could be you.
Once on the end of the line, the tarpon is one of the most fierce adversaries to encounter on spinning or conventional gear. The term tackle-buster was created for them, as only the finest gear can withstand the abuse a tarpon can oppose upon it and the angler holding it.
With numerous acrobatic leaps and single runs that can exceed 100 yards, the thrill of catching a tarpon is unmatched for many anglers. An abundance of strength and endurance is required of the angler attempting to tango with one of these large predators, as sometimes a single fish can take upwards of an hour to bring boat side.
Make no mistake, tarpon fishing is not for the weak at heart. These fish will put even the saltiest angler in their place as they display their truth strength and power when hooked. And to add to the challenge the tarpon, is artfully skillful in spitting the hook as it jumps erratically through the air shaking its head from side to side before splashing back into the water causing an alarming eruption that we can be seen and heard.
And amidst all this chaos occurring the weary angler must keep an eye out for other predators eyeing up their catch in hopes of an easy meal.
Oh the sharks.
These majestic giants are on the lookout for a hooked tarpon which makes the whole affair doubly nerve-racking for both the angler and fellow spectators.
Hammerhead, bull and tiger sharks — reaching lengths of 15 feet or more — are capable of biting a 100-pound tarpon in half with little effort. This is always on the mind of the captain as they maneuver the boat around the tarpon and especially as they reach into the water to grab the lower jaw subduing the great fish before attempting to remove the hook. When all is said and done the silver king is carefully released to swim away to live on in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And the angler, fatigued and dehydrated, feels a true sense of satisfaction for success against one of the strongest fish that swims in our waters can set down there rod and recoup until the next bite. And so it begins all over again.
On my own Just Reel charters, I’m staying within the safety of the shallow grass flats targeting snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Many snook are being caught and released during morning fishing charters. The same applies for the spotted seatrout, although some of them are finding their way into the cooler for anglers who wish to feast on a fresh caught fish dinner. Redfish are in the mix while targeting snook, which adds a nice variety to the bite.