Late May Fishing Report

Tarpon Fishing is on Fire!


Summer time is pretty much here. The temperatures are consistently warm, the winds have laid down a good bit, and the fishing is epic. There are so many different types of fish to target this time of year, which can make for a very diversified catch. Whether offshore, inshore, or flats fishing, there’s something out there to suit your desires.

I like to start my summertime early mornings targeting tarpon. The early morning bite is something that I wish would last all day because of how calm and quiet it is on the water. The sun isn’t even up yet as we make our way towards these slow rolling monsters. When the winds are real light, you can hear the tarpon slurping baits off the surface or hear them take in a breath of air when they roll. There is nothing better than this sound to start your day. As we hear these tarpon in their natural environment, we decide what to throw in front of them. Once we cast the bait of choice that morning, the quietness is no longer there, and is replaced with the sound of line peeling off our reels.

Tarpon release in Key West

Releasing a tarpon boat side with some young anglers.


There are many different techniques to catch a tarpon. Whether it’s fly-fishing, live bait fishing, chumming, or throwing artificial plugs. Everyone continues to have their favorite. When I’m fishing for tarpon in the summer, I like to have my anglers throw live pinfish or live crabs in front of the rolling schools. Depending on the depth of water and how these fish are moving will ultimately make my decision. In shallow water I will usually use some type of float to keep my baits from hiding down in the grass. Also, if we are in shallow water, the tarpon are already most likely feeding on the surface so this way our baits will be in the target zone. Once your float goes under, you better be ready because there’s going to be a big silver king on the line that’s not giving you an easy fight.

As soon as my anglers and I are done chasing tarpon around, we move on to something else. We usually try to find another target sport fish earlier on in the day as well. Because of its popularity and difficulty, the permit is typical for being next on the list. Just like tarpon, there are a few different ways to target a permit. The permit lives in a ton of different environments. They like to get up shallow on the flats, hover on the edges of channels, as well as hang out on the surface above shallow wrecks. Being mostly in the backcountry, we usually go after these fish in the shallows. Using small live crabs and light tackle, the hunt is on. In my opinion, patience is half the battle of catching a permit. They don’t always show up at the right time and they don’t always eat. Permit are very smart, have great hearing, and awesome eyesight. This makes for a challenge that most advanced anglers are excited to take on. If it is a slow day seeing permit on the flats and shallows, I will sometimes shoot out to a shallow wreck or reef if the conditions are right.

Shortly after our species specific target fishing, my anglers are always set to pull on some other good fighting sport fish. Jack crevalle are a favorite amongst many due to their strong pull and their willingness to attack whatever lure you have in front of them. These jacks are usually in big schools, which gives us the opportunity for multiple hookups. Jack crevalle don’t always hang out with just each other. They are sometimes hanging out with big sharks or other types of jacks, like blue runners and yellow jacks. Sharks and barracudas will dominate areas in the shallows and often try to eat what you are reeling in. This will make for a really interesting fight as you see the food chain in action.

After a long day of pulling on big sport fish, many anglers like to bring home a few fish to get cooked up for dinner. Fish that are good eating in the backcountry include yellow jacks, mangrove snappers, lane snappers, cobia, and pompano. Most of these fish can be found in a little bit of structure in the shallows, as well as in the mangroves. Telling fish stories and eating your own personal fresh catch is the best way to end your exciting day of angling. Summertime fishing in the Keys is a favorite way to enjoy the beautiful weather with family and friends. Being out on the water and soaking in Mother Nature creates quite the experience.