Tarpon are Back
Capt. Russ Walker
April 19, 2019
Cape Coral - Saltwater Fishing Report
People often ask me how I rig for Tarpon. There are many ways to do it. I have developed the following as my own as it works best for me. This rig is for fish in the 100 to 160 pound class.
Rod: 7' Spinning
Reel: 6000 to 8000 with porcelain drag. ( Penn Conflict )
Full spool Line 80 pound ( Power Pro )
Tie a Spyder hitch allowing 2.5 feet forward to back. When you see how to tie a Spyder Hitch you will know what I am describing. This doubles the line at the point where the leader ties up.
Take the 80 lb line Spyder Hitch then tie a Double Uni to a 3' length of 80 lb mono.
Now tie a 3', 60 lb leader Double Uni to the 80 lb part of the leader.
Now tie a 7 ought Owner Mutu Light circle hook to the 60 lb line using a Uni knot. Lick the line and pull all knots tight. Then trim all tags.
Most tarpon are caught, free line using live bait, free line on bottom with cut bait or free line casting live bait like Pinfish, Ladyfish or Mullet or free line lure casting.
Many times I use live bait freelined from my anchored boat allowing it to dangle 4 to 5 feet below the surface, under a small balloon.
A racked rod works best for the initial strike as many people try to set the hook which doesn't always work.
Rack the rod, set the drag at about 45 lbs. and wait for the strike. I use an out angled stainless rod holder and attach a 200 lb rated strap to the reel base so I don't lose the rod on the initial strike.
When they hit and realize they're hooked, they will bend the rod double and skyrocket to 6 or 7'. Then make a huge run towards freedom.
Remember, when you see the Tarpon Leap, bow somewhat and slack the line or they will throw the hook. It's a heartbreak. Bow to the King as we say.
4" to 5" Live Pinfish work well. They are hardy and can be casted multiple times while remaining alive. The best part is that they usually dive to the depth of the leader and stay down.
A 10" to 15" live Ladyfish or Mullet is incredible bait for tarpon. I caught the biggest ( 220 lbs ) ever on a Ladyfish of this size.
After pics alongside the boat, start the motor and glide it thru the water to revive it for the release.
Use sufficient size in your equipment. A Tarpon will die of lactic acid build up when caught on a small rod and reel when you can' t get the fish in quickly, shortening the fight.
If a shark comes, open the bail and let it run free, a shark can't catch a Tarpon unless it's encumbered. Be Kind to the King.
If you've never hooked a Volkswagen headed for Miami, then put catching a Tarpon on your bucket list. There is truly nothing like it.
Till Next Tide
Captain Russ Walker
Tide Walker Charters
Tarpon Express, Pineland Marina
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