I am very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had over the past 15 years to guide and fly fish the flats in and around Boca Grande, Florida. Boca Grande Florida tarpon fishing is second to none. Boca Grande Tarpon fly fishing is very diverse, and the opportunities for catching tarpon in a variety of angling situations is ever present. Our Tarpon fishery is somewhat seasonal, but we do have Tarpon 12 months a year if you care to fish for them. Whether you run up the rivers, fish the backcountry flats or the beaches and passes depends on the time of year or the day.
The major migration occurs starting in April and lasts until the end of September. Most people believe they have to be here in May or June to have good fishing, and that is just not the case. Tarpon live in Boca Grande, they are always here, and you can have awesome fishing anytime between March and October. Winter tarpon fishing depends on the weather, and I have had days in the winter that rival any day during tarpon season.The real juice in Boca Grande Tarpon fly fishing is feeding them and watching them eat. I have seen thousands of Tarpon eat flies, and I am still surprised when they do. They are like elephants eating peanuts. They get big by eating lots of small food which makes them the perfect fly rod gamefish. The trick to feeding Tarpon is fly presentation. Fishing with the right fly and knowing where and when to cast are of the utmost importance. Stripping the fly in a manner that induces a bite is critical!!!
Knowing how to fight them when you do get one on is essential for bringing your tarpon to the boat. The Tarpon’s body language tells the story, and for the angler, the question is “Can you read it?” Reading a fish’s body language and knowing what it wants to see only comes through experience or a really good guide. Tarpon don’t eat the fly simply because you cast it out there…you gotta make them want it and more importantly make them eat it!
Stripping the fly requires creativity and experience. For every Tarpon shot, you need to adapt to the speed at which the fish is moving. The more fish I see eat flies with different stripping techniques, the more I know about how to get the next Tarpon to pull the trigger for the anglers on my boat. Slow, steady retrieves are deadly on the Tarpon flat, but I use a fast thumbnail strip as well. Knowing when to stop the fly, move it again or how to make a tarpon pull the trigger when he is wearing your fly like a mustache are critical! The bottom line is how you move the fly will in many situations determine how many tarpon you will catch. If you don’t sell it to the fish, it won’t eat it.
Once a tarpon eats your fly, what should you do? One thing you should NOT do is move the rod…not even a millimeter. Keep the butt of the rod against your belly and steady. Wait for the line to come tight, and when it does, you can apply all the pressure you need to set the hook with your stripping fingers. Once the fish is on, put a bend in the rod by changing the angle of the rod in your hand and try not move your hand too much. Keep this simple, and you won’t miss the bow when he launches immediately. It is actually pretty easy to strip line when the giant poon comes right at you. Keeping your hook razor sharp is mandatory for penetration, and if you really want to get nit picky, you should take down the barb for even better hook sets. The bottom line is if you get a good hook set, it doesn’t matter what you do for the rest of the fight. You probably won’t lose her unless you break the leader.
Bowing when they jump is essential, and knowing when and how much pressure to put on the fish during the fight is key to landing Tarpon quickly. The angle of pressure is the biggest factor in landing fish quickly. Experienced Tarpon fly fisherman know which way to pull and how hard they can pull, and the best way to learn is to go Tarpon fly fishing and get hooked up.