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Vol. 15 No. 32 - June 3, 2015

Captains' reports

Tarpon keep up the good fight









Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Stephen Liska, from Naples, FL, battles a tarpon that
he caught and released on a live crab while fishing
the coastal gulf near Sarasota with Capt. Rick Grassett.

Captain Rick Grassett

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had good action, jumping and catching and releasing tarpon on live crabs and a variety of baitfish in the coastal gulf in Sarasota during the past week. Large schools of tarpon were plentiful most days giving anglers lots of action.

I had a group of anglers tarpon fishing with me all week, along with Capt. Andy Cotton and Capt. Jack Hartman.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, Ill. was joined by Jack McCulloch, from Lakewood Ranch, for a day early in the week and Stephen Liska, from Naples, for a couple of days later in the week on my boat. The group had good action with multiple hookups, jumped fish and several fish caught and released. Conditions were great with an east wind pattern, good sunlight and fishing got better as the week progressed. Everyone finished strong on Friday with multiple jumped and landed fish. A great week!

With tarpon fishing in full swing, it’s a good time to talk about etiquette. When I started doing this almost 30-years ago, anglers hunted for and found their own schools of tarpon. You never fished a school of tarpon that another angler was fishing unless invited in and if they were fly fishing, not at all. We leap-frogged schools of tarpon with everyone getting their shots and if it was a slow moving school, we yielded to the angler already working the school.

In addition to those principles, here are a few other rules that I follow. When fishing in shallow water, usually 6 feet or less, I don’t run an outboard at all unless going to or leaving a spot or following a hooked fish. Tarpon are extremely sensitive to outboard and even trolling motor noise in shallow water. I may use a trolling motor sparingly, usually only as an assist to a push pole and never within a couple of hundred feet of tarpon. Give other anglers 200 yards or more in a lane where tarpon may be traveling, keeping in mind that tarpon may be traveling both south and north. The most productive technique in shallow water is usually to anchor, be quiet and adjust your spot if necessary.

When fishing deeper water, 10 to 25 feet, here’s how I operate. I don’t get between other anglers and the tarpon they are working. Give other anglers 200 yards or more of space when picking a spot to intercept tarpon. Don’t run an outboard within a hundred yards or more of tarpon, especially if other anglers are working them (a four-stroke outboard is no substitute for an electric trolling motor) and lastly, if a school of tarpon is moving slowly enough that another angler is moving at the same speed with them, I stay off them until the tarpon school moves past them. If everyone treats other anglers with the same respect that they would expect, everyone will have an enjoyable experience and a fair chance at catching a tarpon.

Tarpon fishing in the coastal gulf should be a good option early next week as we head towards a full moon on Tuesday. Look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars. Catch and release sight fishing for snook in the surf with flies or DOA Lures should also be a good option. You may also find trout, Spanish mackerel, blues or pompano on deep grass flats, particularly close to passes.


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