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West Palm Beach, Fl Tarpon Fishing


Tarpon Fishing in West Palm Beach

Tarpon are considered the Apex of inshore species caught in West Palm Beach. They can be found on the beach, in the inlets or on the bridges, especially at night. The best Tarpon fishing in West Palm Beach happens every year around the mullet run which generally starts towards the end of September and persists through October. However, there are resident Tarpon that live in West Palm Beach year around. Usually, these are smaller or juvenile class fish that can be finicky and tricky to fool. Small live pilchards, sardines and other small white baits caught in a cast net or on a sabiki rig are top choices for the resident Tarpon in West Palm Beach. When the adults are around, 7-9” straight or paddle tailed soft plastic swimbaits are the top lure choice in West Palm Beach. The key to fooling the Tarpon in West Palm Beach is to present your lure right on the nose of a rolling fish. Often, when there are a lot around, you will see schools of adult Tarpon rolling in groups. Cast in front of the first one in the pack, if it does not show any interest continue to the next one. Usually, one of the fish will be fooled and you will get a reaction thump.

Tackle for Tarpon Fishing in West Palm Beach

You will need some quality and heavy tackle for Tarpon fishing in West Palm Beach. Exactly what type of setup you choose will depend largely on where you will be targeting the Tarpon and your preferred technique. Anglers fishing on the beach and at the inlet from shore in West Palm Beach prefer a 9-11’ rod for casting heavy lures long distances to reach the rolling fish. Boat anglers typically prefer a stout 7-8’ rod so it can be easily maneuvered around the boat, cast freely and to provide the maximum amount of leverage while fighting the fish. Anglers fishing on the bridges in West Palm Beach tend to fish lighter tackle where a lighter action 7-8’ rod is preferred because of the light leader, small bait and small hooks necessary to get a bite. Reels that are used for Tarpon fishing in West Palm Beach range from an 4000-14000 sizes. 4000-5000 sized reels for inshore light tackle and 8000 sized reels and up for the big ones. Tarpon are extremely hard fighters and the adults grow to be over 200 pounds in West Palm Beach, so having a reel that operates with smooth drag under a heavy load, has a lot of torque and plenty of line capacity and great cranking power is essential for landing big Tarpon.

Locating Tarpon in West Palm Beach

The biggest factor when locating Tarpon is the tides. They are an extremely predictable species with how they move about with the tide. As the tide goes out, the Tarpon will position farther out the inlet feeding on the baitfish flowing with the current. On the incoming tide, they will be found farther inshore as the baitfish flows in. The Tarpon know that the schools of baitfish drift around with the current and position themselves in the best spot to ambush it as it flows through. As the tide rises, look for them to be on the inshore bridges, river mouths, boat docks and channels. The biggest tip for locating Tarpon is to spot them rolling. Tarpon gulp oxygen so you will see them actively rolling their body on the surface as they feed and move around. Spotting Tarpon rolling on the surface is the best way to confirm you are in the right area to hook up.

Fighting and Landing Tarpon in West Palm Beach

Fighting Tarpon and landing them successfully in West Palm Beach involves a ton of technique. We have a few pointers learned through years of trial and error in West Palm Beach that will help you perfect your Tarpon fighting and landing techniques. The first is to fish with a very tight drag. Not so tight that you will instantly break off, but you want to minimize drag slip when jamming that hook set. Tarpon’s mouths are almost entirely bone so there really are only two places to hook them, right in the corner or in the “button,” which is a soft spot in the roof of their mouth. That’s why you need to ensure a positive hookset. It is not uncommon for anglers in West Palm Beach to set the hook multiple times after getting a bite. When the Tarpon jumps, point your rod tip straight at the fish to avoid pulling hooks. Once the Tarpon is on, get the fish in as quickly as possible to avoid fighting the Tarpon to exhaustion. In West Palm Beach, you need to put some serious muscle to these fish, pumping the rod up without high sticking, then taking in as much line as possible. Anglers in West Palm Beach say you must “break the spirit” of the Tarpon to land it quickly and ensure a healthy release. Landing Tarpon in West Palm Beach is a game of angles. The fish want to swim in the path of least resistance, so you want to position yourself ahead of the fish if he is heading toward structure to turn the fish. When landing Tarpon from shore in West Palm Beach, it is best to get yourself behind the fish in the water, and guide it to shore, this is where many anglers in West Palm Beach want to grab the leader which gives the fish a ton of leverage and allows them to easily break the line or throw the hook.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to catch Tarpon in West Palm Beach, Florida?

It is legal to catch Tarpon in West Palm Beach, but you must not remove them from the water. It is illegal to remove a Tarpon measuring 40" or greater from the water.

Where can I fish for Tarpon in West Palm Beach?

You can catch Tarpon in the inlet in West Palm Beach, on the bridges, in the ICW and the spillways.

What is the best way to catch Tarpon?

A large live mullet free lined in the area where Tarpon are feeding is the absolute best way to catch one

What is the best lure for Tarpon?

The best lure for Tarpon is a straight tail soft plastic lure. They mimick a large mullet and have action the Tarpon just cannot resist!

Are Tarpon hard to catch?

Tarpon are one of the most challenging species of fish in West Palm Beach to catch. Locating and hooking them is usually the easy part, but landing and safely releasing these giant, prehestoric fish is extremely difficult.

Does West Palm Beach have Tarpon all year around?

Yes, we have resident Tarpon that live both in the inlet and around the bridges in West Palm Beach. They are plentiful all year round and are much larger on average that most of the resident Tarpon found in the surrounding area.

Can Tarpon bite you?

Tarpon do have very tough bony mouths that can cause damage to your bare hands. Tarpon do not have big sharp teeth so as long as you have a glove on, you should be fine grabbing them by the mouth.

What is the best time to catch Tarpon in West Palm Beach?

The best time to catch Tarpon is going to be during the fall Mullet run as the Tarpon are also migrating with their forage. Tarpon can be caught year round and make second migration during the spring as well.

Most Popular Types of Fishing in West Palm Beach, Fl Tarpon Fishing

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