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Naturally, sharks on tarpon’s tail

May 23, 2009

This year's tarpon migration has brought a large number and variety of sharks to Southwest Florida. Huge hammerheads, lemons, spinners, bulls and blacktips all are here in great numbers this year.

For those that don't know, these sharks shadow tarpon schools during their migration north and don't be surprised when your first 100-pound silver king is eaten at the side of the boat. It is quite an amazing sight to see a 6-foot long, 125-pound fish bitten in half at boatside by a hammerhead as big as a submarine.

Good captains will do everything in their power (like free spooling the reel) to avoid this, but sometimes it's impossible to stop it from happening.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Capt. Sean Davis of Fishwarrior Charters gives an outstanding fishing report despite the rain this week. Plenty of bait along the beaches and passes. Snapper, grouper, permit and Spanish macs are on nearshore reefs. Plenty of tarpon (up to 150 pounds) along the beaches fell for drifted live threadfins, along with a variety of sharks up to six feet joining the tarpon parade.

Great reports of snook and trout all over the area that are willing biters.

If the tide is not moving well, fish the wind-blown points of the islands and bars and you should score on snook and maybe reds, he reports. Trout are being caught on the grass flats while drifting live whitebaits under popping corks and, hopefully, the weather will start to improve for the weekend. Welcome to the column Capt. Sean.

Capt. Roy Bennett of Hot One II Charters reports his tarpon slowed and scattered a bit due to the rain, but he still managed a nice tarpon that was caught, tagged and released, and still jumped some others. His clients hooked up with several nice sharks this past week. Got their lines stretched and gave their backs a good workout.

Capt. Rob Modys of SoulMate Charters says, "Man o' man, the tarpon are on the feed in the near Gulf waters! We have been jumping three to five fish on each trip and the by-catch is also a lot of fun."

Lots of big sharks, including hammerheads, blacktips, and lemons, are all in the same area. They have caught several kingfish to 15 pounds and lots of nice-size Spanish mackerel. The bait of choice this week was threadfin herring, but tarpon also jumped on large whitebaits. The threads are near the bridges and the whitebait is fairly easy to net along the beaches.

Modys only made one back country trip this week to Estero Bay and it proved to be quite a bit of fun. Using whitebait, his party caught seven trout up to 24 inches, 11 snook to 34 inches, one slot redfish, and quite a few big jacks.

Capt. Greg Hood reports on a two-day tarpon trip with clients Scott and Sally Lundgren and friend Tim Bradley from Pennsylvania. Hood said he was barking orders like a drill sergeant to be able to keep his clients hooked up to the big green and mean beach monsters. "Reel in the lines! Get the anchor! How much line is left on the spool? Tighten the drag! Sit down! Get some line back! Bow to the king when he jumps!"

He calls it "tarpon chaos" and it all happens very, very, fast.

He reports catching tarpon from 150 to 200 pounds on the first day on catfish tails on the bottom and drifted whitebaits.

On day two, the trip started with a 125-pounder on a kitty tail and a few more fish to 200 pounds to round out the day. All in all the team scored six of eight tarpon hooked in two days.

These Pennsylvania anglers will remember that trip for a lifetime, I'm sure. Welcome to the column Capt. Greg.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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