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Enjoying one of angling's greatest thrills

May 5, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It's May and tarpon time! Look for the tarpon fleet anchored off Sanibel and Captiva in the usual windy spring conditions bottom fishing for the newly arriving big fish from the Keys heading to Boca Grande and points further north and west as they migrate over towards Alabama, Texas, and Mexico.

The other group that left the Keys on their spring migration northward turned right at Miami to travel along the Atlantic coast and continue that journey as far north as Virginia and even further north into the Chesapeake Bay.

These migrating tarpon are some of the strongest fish of the year and a day's tarpon fishing off one of these islands is also sure to put you in touch with "Jaws." Just like wolves that shadow game herds, sharks do the same as the tarpon move.It's common this time of year for your beautiful, drag burning, high jumping trophy to come under attack during the fight by a jumbo shark that senses the fish's trauma and homes in for an easy meal.

If you are attached to a tarpon under attack, try to help it get away by putting your reel in free spool or maneuvering the boat or, if necessary, cutting the line to try and give your king a chance to escape the giant jaws of death waiting for him.

A 150-pound tarpon can be 50 years old so give them every chance when giant "Jaws" comes hunting.

For those interested in experiencing one of the greatest concentrations of tarpon on the west coast of Florida, try Boca Grande when it's in full swing.

Tarpon fishing at Boca is generally not for the inexperienced and is best fished with specialized techniques, tackle and boat control, as well as learning the proper etiquette of drifting down with the fleet and returning out of everyone's way. Once you understand the pattern it becomes easier.

Watch what others are doing before entering the pack. I highly suggest hiring a guide or an experienced friend to learn this fishing.

Boca gets a lot of press but if this sometimes boat bumping, crowded fishing is not for you then fish Captiva or Redfish pass. Big fish and less crowded, especially at night.

Captiva is also known to load up early before Boca Grande.

The beach tarpon scene is heating up and early rising lucky anglers will hopefully intercept pods of fish running the beaches. Sometimes you'll find them a hundred yards off, sometimes a few miles or more.

If you do spot them rolling, figure their travel direction and get ahead of them and quietly cast live baitfish, crabs or flies to them and hold on. If you've not experienced this fishing, then it's a great time to invest and learn from a guide that specializes in this type of tarpon fishing.

Guides are not cheap but what you will learn in 4 or more hours will, in the long run, may save you many seasons of unsuccessful tarpon fishing, plus wasted time and money.

If you're new to the area and want to have you're very own silver king dancing on the end of your line, check out the Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters Club. This dedicated group of anglers will take you under their wing and put you on the path to tarpon success.

Catching tarpon by any means is great sport. No fancy equipment needed. You don't even need a boat to get in the game with hundreds of miles of tarpon-filled Cape Coral canals to explore.

This time of year, simply throwing out a chunk of catfish will often do the trick.

Night fishing with plugs and jigs, poling through the Sound for hiding fish in skinny water, presenting a fly to a happy pod in clear water just off the beach, whatever your game, tarpon fishing is truly one of angling's greatest thrills.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or



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