Thursday, December 9, 2021

Follow the TARPON!

Photos are taking on the side of the boat, rather than pulling the fish into the boat. PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY CAPT. RAPPS/COASTAL BREEZE NEWS

Photos are taking on the side of the boat, rather than pulling the fish into the boat. PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY CAPT. RAPPS/COASTAL BREEZE NEWS


Capt. Pete Rapps

Each summer giant Tarpon gather in huge schools in different areas around the state of Florida, as they have done for centuries before we even started to fish for them. They are on their annual spawning migration and arrive hungry and ready to eat. Tarpon are considered by many as the most incredible and ultimate game fish available. To experience a Tarpon’s violent head shaking and its raw strength as it leaps ten feet out of the water, is simply one of the most amazing adrenaline rushes out there!

Although I am not headed there, one of the most popular Tarpon hot spots is Boca Grande Pass, located just to the north of us here in southwest Florida. Boca Grande is the deepest natural pass in Florida with depths reaching 80’. It is estimated that 5,000 Tarpon are landed in the pass each season making it the single busiest and most productive Tarpon fishing spot in the world.

I, on the other hand, choose to head south to follow my Tarpon. I head to the Keys….. More specifically the Marathon & Big Pine Key area. The Tarpon are

Leaping on the line.

Leaping on the line.

just as plentiful there, just a little more spread out. It is not uncommon for us to catch several Tarpon each day in the 80 – 125 lb range, some up to 200 lbs. We really enjoy the more laid back approach to fishing there. In the Keys we never find ourselves inside a mosh pit of adrenaline filled anglers fighting over one school of fish. We find ourselves more spread out, and have great success doing so.

We use all spinning rods and heavy baitrunner reels filled with braided line. Since we fish bridge areas, the braided line has been successful in saving many fish that run along one of the many bridge columns. Our baits vary from live Pinfish, Mullet, Crabs, Thread Herring, cut bait, and some artificials. I like to use fluorocarbon leader and large circle hooks. The circle hooks seem to give us the most productive hook up ratio, and will always lip hook the fish. We never have a problem with gut hooking them.

All of the Tarpon we catch are brought boatside for a quick photo before taking our time to make sure the fish

Ed Altwies and a nice Tarpon.

Ed Altwies and a nice Tarpon.

is fully revived before we release them free unharmed. It is not common practice to pull a caught Tarpon into the boat for a photo anymore. We like to be as gentle on them as possible. Tarpon are considered a prized sport fish and are never taken for food. When a client wants a mount of a fish, we take measurements and photos of the fish, and have a custom fiberglass replica made as their trophy.

I will be following the Keys Tarpon right now during the months of May and June. If you always wanted to catch one of these beauties, now is your chance. Come follow the Tarpon too! My website has all the info including my availability booking calendar. Now is the time to book.

Capt. Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10000 Islands of the Everglades National Park. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See the online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at and you can reach him at 239-571-1756.

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