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Migrating tarpon are arriving

May 15, 2010

Every year in April, I like many others, get tarpon fever. Many tarpon addicts don't even fish for other species unless they use them for bait.

To some, tarpon fishing is a lifestyle, a religion, an addiction, and often hard work with little success. Tarpon are finicky and sometimes simply will not eat anything you present to them. At other times they will chow down on anything in sight.

Tarpon are a prehistoric fish that continues to survive and thrive in warmer climates on many parts of the earth. The fact they have a primitive lung system allows them to inhabit and hunt oxygen depleted waters. Being scavengers, food is all around them from top to bottom.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Tarpon are here, and more are coming every day. Although we do have a year-round fishery for resident tarpon, the migratory tarpon heading north from Miami, the Keys, and parts south arrive in our waters, signaling the real start of tarpon season.

Fishing generally starts with the tarpon fleet anchored off Sanibel Island bouncing in the wind and waves fighting some real large and powerful fish.

As Boca Grande, Redfish and Captiva passes fill up with migrating tarpon, our rivers do also, mixing with the resident tarpon. Typically, a resident fish takes on a darker, golden hue from living in our tannin-stained river, while the migratory fish are bright chrome and many believe are stronger fighters.

What causes a tarpon to stay in Cape Coral year-round verses vacationing below the Keys is not really known, as well as many other facts about this very old species of fish. Tarpon inhabit the Gulf of Mexico and in spring migrate all the way up the east coast to the Chesapeake Bay. Even though there are reports of tarpon farther north, this typically is the extent of their northern range.

The ways to catch tarpon are numerous - artificial and soft plastic plugs, fly rods, dead and live baits suspended or fished on the bottom. If you are new to tarpon fishing, a day or night trip with a good guide is money well spent and will save lots of time and frustration.

Capt. Phil Evans of A FishinMission Charters reports that fishing has been good. Lots of bait and Spanish Mac around. Large trout biting good. This week I caught a nice cobia in the flats. That's what's for dinner tonight. Redfish and snook are in the mangroves now.

I had two tarpon trips this week. We had many tarpon rolling all around us for hours. We had a few knockdowns and no hookups. We had two strikes on topwater lures and no hookups. I only saw one hookup in two days.

We did hook seven sharks while tarpon fishing - bull shark, spinner, black tip, lemon.

The tarpon are here but the bite hasn't been strong yet.

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



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