Tarpon Time for Tidewater Owners
by Ted Lund
As coastal waters warm up, tarpon begin their annual migration northward along the Gulf and Atlantic
coasts and anglers from Texas all the way to the Carolinas can get in on the high-flying action. It’s a perfect fishery for Tidewater’s 2000 Carolina Bay, offering a dry, fast ride thanks to the boats notable “Carolina flare” design. It’s the perfect stable platform for chasing the silver king in inshore and nearshore waters. Novice and experienced anglers alike will appreciate the Carolina Bay’s larger casting platform and plenty of other fishing-friendly features including dual livewells, pull-up cleats, folding jumpseats and plenty of rod storage.
Tarpon techniques vary from location to location, but they’ll rarely turndown a chunky live bait like a threadherring, menhaden or live mullet. Most anglers prefer falling tide, as that’s when tarpon gang up around points, corners in channels or inlets to take advantage of baitfish, shrimp and crabs being swept out on the current.
Setting up on one of these areas, you’ll want to target tarpon with a 7-foot medium-heavy- to heavy-action conventional or spinning outfit, armed with a reel holding at least 300 yards of 30-pound superbraid. If water clarity is good, like it is in South and West Florida, you can fish baits on the surface, using either a balloon or large cork to indicate their position and prevent them from diving to the bottom and getting snagged. In murkier water, it’s a good bet to put the baits near the bottom using an egg-sinker. Terminal choices can include 40- to 80-pound fluorocarbon leader, depending on the size of the fish and water clarity. Whatever you decide with, it’s best to opt for a 4/0 to 6/0 circle hook — but remember, never set the hook. The best strategy is to let one of the Tidewater’s many rod holders do the work. But if you insist on being hands on, just wind down into the fish, let the hook come tight and slowly raise the rod tip.
There is another method of tarpon fishing that get’s little play, but can be equally as effective as live-baiting: Chumming.
Originally developed in the Florida Keys, dead-bait chumming has been used successfully anywhere tarpon are found. In this scenario, you’ll want to use your fishfinder to locate a school of tarpon holding in the current. Next, anchor 50 to 100 yards up-tide of the school and once you come tight, start creating a scent trail by chunking whatever bait you have on hand. In the Florida Keys, where shrimp boat by-catch is readily available, that’s the go-to bait. But if you live anywhere with an abundance of threadherring, menhaden or mullet, those work great, too. Can’t catch your own? No worries. A flat of threadherring or similar baitfish provide plenty of enticement.
Keep a steady stream of bait going; try to distribute it evenly between the port and starboard corners, where your anglers will be stationed. Then, using the same type setups as used for live-baiting, slowly drift a chunk of dead bait back to the school. The object is to keep the bait flowing at the same rate as the freebies.
The bite will register either one of two ways. If the fish picks up the bait and sneaks off (and you will be amazed at how gentle a 100-pound fish can be on the uptake) you’ll register just the slightest increase in speed of the line flowing off the reel. If the tarpon eats the bait and starts swimming towards you, the line will briefly stop as the fish closes the gap.
In either case, your reaction should be the same. Engage the reel, point the tip at the water and start
winding like crazy until the drag prevents you from winding any more. At this point, gently lift into the fish, allowing the hook to find its way into the corner of the tarpon’s mouth.
With the advent of braided line, durable flouro leader and circle hooks, the necessity of bowing to the silver king has almost disappeared. But you will want to keep the rod tip high, ready to give the fish the tip if it jumps or suddenly turns and runs away from.
There’s no better way to get your Tidewater family involved in fishing than providing constant, fun-filled action. And there’s no better way than to chase tarpon during the spring and summer. So get on out and give it a try!
For more information on how to become a member of the Tidewater family or to learn about their entire line of boats pairing performance and quality with value, visit tidewaterboats.com.
Original Source; Sportsmans Lifestyle.com