It’s that time of year here in the Sunshine State, and Capt. C.A. Richardson is ready to grind it out with his clients on his home waters of Tampa Bay. For C.A., prep for tarpon season starts months before the fish arrive. “I put new line on my reels, purchase fresh leader materials, and replace all the hooks on my hard baits,” he says. “My Hell’s Bay Marquesa goes in for service, and I make sure my skiff’s trolling-motor system and batteries are in top condition.”
Here are a few tips C.A. shared with us to make your tarpon season a good one!
When presenting a lure or even a free-lined crab to a school of tarpon, be sure to lead them by a good 30 feet. You’ll need that cushion (distance) to allow the lure or crab to sink to eye level with the tarpon as they swim by your position. Never twitch or abruptly move the lure or crab as fish swim into zone, and you’ll have a hookup!
Looking for a lure color that tarpon tune into? Choose either purple or root beer, because they silhouette so well and draw strikes from tarpon in low light. If you want to know what I use, try the MirrOlure TTR Purple Demon or the 5″ Z-Man Jerk ShadZ in the Rootbeer/Gold color.
If you are live baiting, try a small live crab, about 2.5″- 3.5″ across the carapace, free-lined on a 5/0 Mustad Circle Hook. I use a 40# to 50# fluorocarbon leader in a 4′ length to attach to the 40# braid (main line). Small crabs presented perfectly always draw a strike.
Rod and reel recommendations for beach tarpon fishing:
– Spinning: 6000 PENN Clash and an 8′ XH 30lb to 50lb Falcon Tarpon Rod
– Casting: Daiwa Lexa 400HS and a 7′ XH 15lb to 30lb casting rod
When fighting fish, keep your skiff or bay boat within 20 yards of the hooked tarpon. This is so you can keep maximum pressure on the tarpon and utilize the butt of the rod to stress fish even faster! Also, always lean forward and bow to a jumping tarpon to avoid losing the fish … this is important.
Hope you enjoyed these tips, and good fishing!