by Capt. Christina
Naples is home to some of the best tarpon fishing around. Not only do we have all sizes, but they are also found in a variety of locations, from the beaches and offshore, to the bays and winding backwaters. On a recent trip to Everglades National Park, the micro-tarpon bite was on fire. Catching them using bucktail jigs was their pick of the day. The tarpon were hitting back to back and we ended up catching six or seven micro to juvenile-sized fish. They were so active as we reeled one in, we could see another micro-tarpon following behind the one which was hooked. This time of year, the tarpon also enjoy our snook lights, while attracting lots of bugs the lights bring in some great feeding fish as well. It is almost just as fun to watch them eat as it is to catch them on hand-tied flies in the lights. It’s always a shame when they get away, but recently I took my mom out and we had one take off with the leader and bobber. When heading back in that day I was surprised to see my bobber had floated into the back of the bay, or so I thought. As I reached for the bobber the Tarpon I had hooked probably 20 minutes earlier, took off and swam away, my bobber still attached.
A few months ago, in Naples Bay we hooked into a juvenile tarpon about 30lbs. and on the first flip he tangled our lines. This could have quickly become a dangerous situation, but on the second leap the tarpon jumped right into the boat. We had to work quickly to get her untangled and back to the water, she was released safely. Not all are as lucky; this next tarpon almost met her match. I hooked into a 20 pounder from the dock and as I was removing the hook, I noticed she had a large leader line (over 100lb test) hanging out of the side, but tied thru her gills. People sometimes try and keep fish alive by tying them to docks with the intention of coming back to get them later. This one was clearly an attempt at poaching. I was able to cut the line and get her back to hopefully see many more years, as tarpon can live to be 50+. Remember to always check state laws regarding keeping any fish, tarpon are highly protected. Hope everyone had a great New Years!