Boca Grande Area Tarpon Fishing

What Boca Grande Tarpon Fishing is All About.

Boca Grande tarpon fishing, it is all about the migration…

Starting as early as March, thousands of tarpon start their migration to the Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor area.  Boca Grande has been scientifically proven as the major spawning destination of the Atlantic Tarpon for the entire state.  This is where the gathering takes place.

May-August the Charlotte Harbor estuary holds the largest population of adult tarpon anywhere in the country.  In other words, for pure tarpon fishing, this is the place to be.

Tarpon in our area average 80 to 140 pounds.  Fish as big as 180 to over 200 pounds are not uncommon.

Although most people know Boca Grande for the big pass and the 150+ boats in it.

I DO NOT FISH THE PASS!!!

Instead I choose to hunt the tarpon other places.  The beaches, flats, bays and backcountry offer an unmatched light tackle experience far away from the mass chaos of Boca Grande Pass.

Leaving out of centrally located Boca Grande, I fish the beaches from Captiva to Sarasota all of the way to the rivers in the back of Charlotte Harbor.

The relentless pursuit of these magnificent fish has been my lifelong passion.  Although my fascination for these fish started in my childhood, I have been guiding full time since 1992.  For 30 years I have made a full time living catching tarpon far away from the crowds.

 

Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Florida

My season starts in March.  I fish all over Charlotte Harbor out of Boca Grande.  Occasionally I do use boat ramps in other places around Charlotte Harbor to increase fishing time.

Early on we spend a lot of time fishing the rivers and backwater canals for smaller resident tarpon.  These fish average 10-40 pounds.  This is a great time to introduce new anglers and younger anglers to tarpon fishing.  We use light tackle.  Spinning rods and live bait.

Later in the season, usually by mid-April, as the water warms the full size migrational tarpon start to show up.  Hordes of baitfish have moved to the shallow water.  I switch over and target these fish 100% of the time.  These tarpon average 80-120 pounds.

The gathering begins.

If you are looking for full size tarpon May-August this is the peak of the season in the Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor area.

This second phase of the season, May and June, we are primarily fishing along the beaches. Sight casting to large pods of fish.  These pods or social groups average 30-100+ fish. Quite the sight to see for sure. These fish gather along the beaches and passes to go offshore to spawn.

Later in the season, after the spawn, the fish start to gather in Charlotte Harbor to rest and feed before they make their journey back south.

Generally speaking the second half of the season we are sight casting artificial lures to tarpon rolling and feeding on the surface. This is why July and August are my favorite months of the whole season here in my home area.

© Tarponsnook.com
Everglades tarpon fishing with Captain Mark Bennett-© Tarponsnook.com

This is big game fishing at it’s finest.  Explosive strikes, powerful runs and acrobatic jumps make the tarpon the ultimate light tackle saltwater challenge.  The “Silver King” is truly a fish that lives up to it’s reputation.

Out of respect for my quarry, I would never kill a tarpon for any reason.  I go to great lengths to ensure a safe release on each and every fish.  Even our photos are taken with the fish still in the water.  I feel conservation is key to having a sustainable fishery.

During the ’09 season I started tagging tarpon for the Florida Wildlife Research Institute’s Genetic Recapture Program.  Not only was I recognized as the top fishing guide in ’09 and ’10, but I broke every record for numbers of tarpon tagged by a fishing guide in a single year, two years in a row.  Almost doubling the numbers of my closest competitor.  Even with my limited participation in the program in 2011, I tagged/sampled more tarpon than anyone on the West Coast of Florida.

Every photo on my website was taken on my boat in just the last couple seasons.  The hardest part of building this website is choosing from the thousands of unbelievable photos my wife Jenni takes every season.

Over the last 25 years, Jenni’s unique ability, timing and eye for perfection through the lens has burned onto film what I feel words alone can not express.

Bocas Grande Tarpon Fishing

For me it is all about the tarpon…

It always has been.