South Shore Tampa Bay Report – Destination Boca Grande Pass By: Capt. Christopher Taylor

Boca Grande is the name of the pass located at the southern-most point of Gasparilla Island and is the water connection between the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor. Boca Grande Pass is one of the deepest natural channels on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. The deep-water pass is complex in its contours and depths. The shallower areas of the pass measure around 30 feet in depth, with the deepest area measuring 80 feet.

Schools in the thousands of tarpon migrate to Boca Grande Pass from late April through the middle of August. Tarpon take advantage of the abundance of food located in the pass. The tidal currents in Boca Grande Pass are always strong. The strongest tides (hill tides) occur during the full and new moons, which cause a crab flush. The days during tarpon season, when the hill tides occur, are popular for many Boca Grande tarpon fishing charters as large numbers of crabs get flushed out into the pass from the inland waterways. Boca Grande tarpon take advantage of the endless supply of crabs as an easy meal.

The Boca Grande community offers world class resorts and dining, as well as, shopping and plenty of history. While you’re on Gasparilla island, before or after your Boca Grande tarpon fishing charter, visit the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum. Not only will you find a breathtaking view of the pass, but a wealth of knowledge on the history of the area and Boca Grande tarpon fishing. If you’re hungry and in need of an air-conditioned meal, The Temptation, The Pink Elephant and The Loose Caboose are a few of the more popular restaurants on Gasparilla Island. A favorite of mine is The Outlet, which is located at The Inlet Resort. For recommendations on lodging and other accommodations, feel free to contact me.

To catch tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, live baits are drifted along the bottom of the pass, as well as, various water columns where the tarpon can be found using a fish finder. This method requires constant adjustment of the line depth to keep the baits within the “strike zone.” The live baits are presented as naturally as possible by using extra-long leaders, heavy lead weights and constant maneuvering of the boat. The most common live baits used are blue crabs, pass crabs, squirrelfish and jumbo shrimp.