Every summer the annual tarpon run in Southwest Florida kicks off around mid-April through mid-July. Within this short window of time thousands of adult tarpon migrate into the local waters to spawn around the adjacent beaches. During the spawning season, kayak fishing is especially effective and reaching world class fishing is just a short pedal away.

Cameron Schurlknight, Tarpon, Southwest Florida
Cameron Schurlknight, Tarpon, Southwest Florida

The start to a great day of tarpon fishing begins on the beach just as first light touches the sand. If you find fish rolling in that first bit of light before sunrise, you’re very likely to get a bite. Observe their behavior including the direction the schools may be traveling and the frequency the tarpon are rolling.

When making your presentation, it is crucial to set up and always have your bait out in front of the fish. Tarpon don’t feed from behind, and the only thing that comes from behind is a predator. Judge the angle of the school and where they are going, and present your bait 15 feet in front of the first fish you see rolling. This will give the tarpon just enough time to see the bait and react with a vicious strike.

As far as choosing a bait to use, tarpon eat a plethora of live and artificial baits. The best baits would be a live blue crab or thread fin. Other baits include pinfish, lady fish, whitebait and squirrel fish. Rigging live baits with a 6/0 circle hook tied to 6ft of 60-80 lb fluorocarbon connected to the 50 lb braided main line is the typical rig used for live bait fishing.

I use the Revolution 13 throughout the great summer tarpon fishing. This kayak offers me plenty of speed to catch up to a hot fish. The Pro Angler is also a popular boat for this style of fishing due to its outstanding stability.

There are a few things you must remember when fighting a tarpon. When the fish comes up, the rod goes down. If your line is too tight when the fish is jumping, it will most likely break it off. Also, “put the line down the spine!” When the fish is near the kayak, always pull opposite of the direction the fish is going. This wears the fish down faster and will bring the tarpon to the kayak quicker.

Always wear a life jacket while fishing for tarpon. These are big animals, and things can happen fast. Be prepared for anything!

Tarpon Fishing Southwest Florida Beaches
Cameron Schurlknight
Boat: 2013 Revolution
Location: Venice, FL
Season: Summer Tarpon Spawn