Tarpon, the “Silver King” have a reputation of being the hardest fighting shallow water fish in the sea. Here in the Florida Keys, many tarpon exceed 100lbs and often feed extremely aggressivly on the surface, making it one of the most exciting and challenging angling experiences you can have!
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Spring time is a magical time of year in the Florida Keys. As the water temperature starts to rise and the baitfish fill the waters around the islands, the tarpon show up in big numbers. While many fish make the Keys their home year round, the large schools of fish arrive in late March and stay through July.
Most Tarpon congregate in the deeper water holes and troughs very close to shore. Bridges and cuts between the islands prove to be the most consistant places to target tarpon. Duck Key is located between two of the best hot spots in the Florida Keys, Long Key Bridge and 7 Mile Bridge. This central location combined with Capt. Brandon’s ready supply of high quality live bait ensures your best chances at hooking into one of these amazing, acrobatic fish.
Capt. Brandon has recently taken delivery of a custom built tarpon boat that has been perfectly designed to be a tarpon fishing machine! Built off of a 24ft Avenger hull and fully customized by the guys at Dorado Custom Boats, she will prove to be one of the nicest, most comfortable shallow water charter boats you can fish on.
There are a number of different strategies used to catch tarpon in the Florida Keys, but on the Broadbill, we like to focus on the one that gives our anglers the most interactive experience. We prefer to have the angler present the bait and hook the fish on their own. This allows a unique experience that will last a lifetime.
The boat is positioned up current of an area that is holding fish and secured by an anchor with a quick detach system. Live baits are then deployed behind the boat with each angler holding their rod. More often than not, the live bait sees the tarpon long before we do and they become “nervous” racing around on the surface and jumping out of the water trying to escape the inevitable. This commotion on the surface excites the Tarpon and produces some of the most incredible topwater bites in fishing! In many cases the bait out jumps the tarpon and narrowly escapes. This only fuels the Tarpons aggressiveness and is followed by a series of attacks that grow increasingly more violent until the Tarpon wins and you’re hooked up with line screaming off the reel!
Once we are tight on the fish we will untie the boat from the anchor ball and give chase as he makes acrobatic jumps, blistering runs, and weaves in and out of the bridge. Fighting a Tarpon can prove to be quite hectic at times and the angler and captain must work together in order to catch the fish.
The captain must be on point and make very quick decisions while chasing the tarpon around the bridge. There is normally a very strong current that must be considered and anticipated as well as other boats, submerged snags and sharks! Very large hammerhead and bull sharks also call the bridge their home and tarpon are their favorite meal. When the sharks give chase the captain and angler work together to deter the shark and release the Tarpon quickly while it still has enough energy to escape becoming a sharks next meal!
Tarpon are a very slow growing fish, with adult females living over 50 years. Because of this, we try our very best to ensure a quick, clean release so the fish has the best chance of survival. Doing our best to prevent hooked Tarpon from being eaten by sharks allows us to conserve this fishery for the next generation