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Tarpon Etiquette 101

  • Good manners go a long way out on the water! "Everyone has heard the saying do unto others as you would have them do unto you!" Well, unfortunately that is often not the case in life, especially when it comes to tarpon fishing. However, I believe a big part of the problem lies in lack of experience and general knowledge pretaining to the understanding of fish habits along with not knowing the tarpon anglers unwritten code.

Imagine trying to play 18 holes of golf with no rules or courtesies? It would be complete chaos, well the same holds true in respect to tarpon fishing. At least the game of golf has a rule book, but if such a rule book exists for tarpon fishing I have never heard of it. 

Those of us that spend alot of time in the pursuit of tarpon have learned the Do's & Don'ts of tarpon fishing. However, many anglers have never had them explained or are new to tarpon fishing, for this reason TTR has descided to publish Tarpon Etiquette 101.

Tarpon fishing rules can often vary from one geological locations to the next. Local tarpon fishing techniques & practices are also factors when trying to decipher the rules. For the sake of keeping things simple we will concentrate on Tampa tarpon fishing.

Tarpon Fishing Tampa Beaches. When fishing the beaches, angler stealth is required more so then when pusuing tarpon in deep water situations. Beach tarpon tend to be on the spooky side and must be approached cautiously. First off they are in shallower water with higher water clarity conditions. Remember, if you can see the tarpon, the tarpon can see you.  

Once tarpon are located observe which direction they are traveling. Then give the pod a wide berth and quietly set up so they come to youNever pursue daisy chaining tarpon too closely or from behind if you do they will spook and get lock jaw. If another boat is set up on a pod of tarpon do not infringe on their fishing without an invite. If you are invited over either drift or use your trolling motor on low and allow a minimum of a hundred yards between vessels, unless  otherwise motioned to come closer. When tarpon are on the beach always try to avoid using your main motor within 200-300yds of tarpon. If another angler has a tarpon on, that angler always has the right of way! Keep your motor and lines clear of the hooked tarpon's path and allow angler to fight tarpon free of interference.

Tarpon Fishing Egmont Key Pass. When tarpon fishing Egmont Key it is all about the drift. For anglers who have never tarpon fished Egmont Key it is recommended to take a few moments and observe how things are done. First off when tarpon fishing Egmont's out going hill tide, anglers must be made aware that there is an order in which things are done. Adherence to this order (or tarpon fishing Protocol) is absolutely necessary when dealing with a large number of anglers concentrated in a relatively small area. On a good crab chew there can be anywhere from 50-100 boats all tarpon fishing about a half a mile stretch of beach. This alone constitutes the importance of some type of order. For if order was not present anarchy would prevail and there would be more punches landed at Egmont than tarpon!

Egmonts unwritten tarpon fishing rules.

1) Fall in line and wait your turn. Usually, the starting point is about 200yds South of the old concrete ferry dock. If you are not sure where to start, first observe the other anglers from the side lines. Then take your place in line and proceed to the starting point.

2) Once it is your turn, proceed to drift.  Try to allow as much room as possible  between your vessel and the one drifting in front of you. 100yds is ideal, but you will probably be lucky to get a 100 feet between boats on a Egmont crab chew.

3) Fish the drift in a backward fashion. It is easier to maneuver a vessel from the stern especially in a strong current. You may need to keep your boat motor idling and make steering adjustments when necessary. Never power up your main motor in the drift. 

4) When drifting backwards on the outgoing tide, cast towards the direction of the bow. Make long casts from your starboard and port sides. Once the current sweeps your bait past the stern, reel in and repeat process.

5) Upon hooking a tarpon, all other lines on boat shoud be reeled in immediately. Apply pressure to fish and attempt to direct fish out of the drift and away from other anglers. If the angler is unable to control his tarpon, motion to other boats in the area the direction in which his tarpon is heading. Once tarpon is safely away from other boat traffic he may continue to fight without threat of outside interference.

6) If another boat jumps a tarpon it is important to be diligent and attempt to stay out of their way. It maybe necessary to reel in your lines or remaneuver your vessel a safe distance away. Be careful never to motor over fishing lines, especially a loaded line ( any line with a tarpon on it). If another boat's tarpon makes a run for your boat and you do not have ample time to get out of the way, your best recourse is to retrieve all lines, immediately kill your engine, and trim up your motor. Quick action in this regard will be gratefully appreciated by your fellow tarpon anglers.

7) When fishing Egmont's hilltide, pass crabs will be your bait of choice. Always dip your crabs away from the main drift.

8) Once you reach the end of your drift slowly idle away from the other boats. When you are away from the wolf pack make a large circular course back towards your original starting point. Then fall back in line, await your turn and repeat the process.

9) Staying on top of your tarpon is very important when attempting to fight a tarpon in heavy boat traffic. The down & dirty technique will allow you to keep pressure on your fish and better control its movements. The better control you exhibit when fighting your tarpon the better the chances of landing it become. Also, by controlling your tarpon you will be infringing less on other anglers fishing time.

10) In summary, always be courteous to other tarpon anglers even if those same courtesies are not extended to you. Lead by example and take pride in knowing that you that you have conducted yourself in a professional manner. Always give a hooked tarpon the right of way, and don't infringe upon other anglers by fishing too closely. Be alert, diligent and prepared to act quickly inorder to avoid altercations with other tarpon anglers. If you do all this you will be a become a better tarpon angler and undoubtably reap the rewards of Egmont Key!

Tarpon Fishing The Bridge Comming Soon!




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