Bow to the King - Fishing for Tarpon in the Florida Keys
||Fish off in
Introduction: For many anglers Tarpon
are a “bucket-list” fish, and are prized not only because of their size and
beauty, but because they are so difficult to land due to their acrobatic leaping
abilities. I’ve been wanting to check the Tarpon box off my personal list for a
long time, and when I got the invite to the Florida Keys to target these
incredible fish I jumped at the opportunity.
More than just a lighthouse, the
Faro Blanco light tower is a landmark that greets everyone visiting the bayside
village. When I first arrived there were numerous tarpon swimming around the
off in the Keys: Paul Michele of Navionics organizes a
media event every year that brings together manufacturers from across the
industry with outdoor writers. This year the venue was the beautiful Faro Blanco
Resort in Marathon, which is in the heart of the Florida Keys. The event was
hosted by Garmin, Navionics, Okuma, AFW, Engel Coolers, Sawyer, Maui Jim, A Band
of Anglers, and the Florida Keys and Key West tourism council.
The Faro Blanco marina is a
beautiful venue for anglers, and on the first evening I captured lightning
streaking across the sky. Good omen? I hoped so.
At the beginning
of the event Andy Newman, Media Relations Director, for the Florida Keys and Key
West tourism council and Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, of the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary gave us a great preview of the amazing region, flora, and fauna
that makes up the diverse coral cay archipelago of the Florida Keys. In addition
to experiencing the region’s sportfishing firsthand we would also get an
opportunity to sample some of the local eats, including lionfish prepared a
variety of ways at the famed Castaway Restaurant, and a tour of historic Pigeon
Key, a one-time base camp for workers who built Henry Flagler’s oversea
railroad, connecting the keys via bridge for the first time ever, over a century
Talk about fresh! At the Castaway
Restaurant in Marathon we were treated to raw Lionfish Usuzukuri speared just
Silver King: We have all seen the pictures and video
of Tarpon, also known as Silver Kings, leaping acrobatically clear out of the
water, and it is truly the stuff of dreams for anglers. The Tarpon that most
anglers in the U.S. fish for are of the Atlantic Species, Megalops atlanticus,
which can be found in great numbers throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the
Caribbean. The Florida Keys, being situated right in the Gulf, offers anglers
some of the very best Tarpon fishing in the nation.
Sébile, famed lure designer and founder of A Band of Anglers
(ABOA) tests some of his newest prototype lures at Pigeon Key
Tarpon are often affectionately
called “dinosaurs,” as they have been swimming in oceans since prehistoric
times. These ancient fish possess a swim bladder which they use to breathe,
enabling them to survive in a wide range of water conditions ranging from salt
to brackish, and even conditions with extreme pH and low
Tarpon are tough fish, and are able to transition from environments as they develop
from larvae in the ocean, to creeks and rivers as juveniles, and back into ocean
as they progress to adulthood, which can be up to 80 years!
The Florida Keys is a fishing
paradise and there are numerous gamefish that anglers can pursue including
Jacks, Redfish, Kingfish, Permit, Bonefish, Wahoo, Dolphin, Mutton Snapper,
Barracuda, Snook, Grouper, Tuna, and Tarpon
Tarpon are also known to be powerful fighters, and are
notoriously challenging to keep hooked. Juvenile and adult fish range in size
from three to over eight feet long and can weigh anywhere from forty to over two
three hundred pounds!
They are easy to identify with their large eyes,
prominent lower jaws, and beautiful silvery scales that cover the length of
their bodies. In terms of diet adult Tarpon are strictly carnivorous and often
prey on shrimp, crabs and other fish including mullets, pinfish, grunts,
herring, needlefish, and sardines.
May and June are some of the very
best times to come to The Florida Keys to target Tarpon
Getting the jump on some Tarpon...