Tarpon Fishing In Marathon For 2020

The Florida Keys form a barrier island divide between the waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. Situated between the Keys and the southern end of the mainland, the thriving estuary of the Florida Bay covers nearly 1,100 square miles, with shallow mudbanks and swampy seagrass. Due to the presence of diverse waterways and generally warm climates, the Keys serve as an appealing saltwater habitat and prominent migratory path for an array of game fish, including the legendary tarpon.

The Famous Silver King

Tarpon are one of the largest inshore fish species, and Florida Keys tarpon fishing is second-to none. Tarpon can grow to be 8 feet in length, weighing nearly 300 pounds. Catches of 5-6 foot, 100-150 pound tarpon are not uncommon in the Keys. All documented U.S. IGFA (International Game Fish Association) tarpon record catches occurred in the state of Florida, with the Florida State Conventional Tackle Record going to Gus Bell's 243-lb. catch off Key West in 1975. The largest tarpon on record was caught in 2003 off the coast of Africa, weighing in at 286 pounds.

Commonly referred to as the "Silver King" due to their shiny, silvery scales, tarpon are a force to be reckoned with, in both might and wit. With impeccable acrobatic flair, tarpon are capable of jumping up to 10 feet out of the water, or swimming around bridges and dock pilings to break an angler's line. Catching tarpon requires persistence and skill, as the prize fighters present a worthy opposition, sometimes lasting hours before a successful catch is made. Tarpon can only be fished recreationally in the State of Florida, but it's absolutely a matter of sport as the species is not a source of desirable seafood.

Tarpon Fishing Season In The Florida Keys

During the spring season, thousands of mature tarpon migrate north from the Carribean and Mexico through the warm waters of Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West to spawn. The migration lasts from April through June, peaking in the Middle Keys around May. Though tarpon season is said to be prevalent in the Keys throughout the spring and summer, the species is present and readily available pretty much any time of year in the thriving estuaries, bays, and canals of the barrier islands, but anglers are least likely to catch tarpon in December and January.

Tips For A Successful Tarpon Fishing Experience

The best tarpon fishing strategies include the use of live bait like mullet, pinfish, and crab. Artificial baits are a less-reliable option, best used on the flats. The use of light tackle, circle hooks, spinning equipment, and fly fishing gear are all recommended options. Channels from Big Pine Key to Key West Harbor host schools of tarpon as the evenings settle in. Tarpon tend to gather near bridges, cuts, and backwater canals. Primary tarpon spots in the Florida Keys include Bahia Honda Bridge, Long Key Bridge, and the Seven Mile bridge. An outgoing tide is ­optimal, with narrower channels offering the best visibility. Aim for a minimal water depth of 4-feet and a maximum of 20-feet, while keeping watch for tarpon rolling at the surface. For the most rewarding fishing trip and a genuine bucket list experience, consider spending some time on a tarpon fishing charter with knowledgeable local professionals to show you the way. Below are a few of our favorites!

Local Fishing Charters

Angling Adventures With Capt. Rich Smith

Photo Credit: captainrichsmith via Instagram
12648 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050 • (786) 508-2483 • https://www.captainrichsmith.com

An array of fishing charter options for all ages and skill levels. Main departure location in Marathon, with various options from Miami to Key West.

Bahia Honda Tarpon Charters

Photo Credit: captainrappscharters via Instagram
33700 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043 • (305) 647-6637 • https://bahiahondatarponcharters.com

Inclusive, 4-hour charters departing just south of Marathon for tarpon excursions at Bahia Honda.

Catch 'Em All Sport Fishing

Photo Credit: catch-em-all.com
71 Coco Plum Drive, Marathon, FL 33050 • (305) 481-4568 • https://catch-em-all.com

Specialized deep sea sport fishing charters out of Marathon. Captain Jeff has been fishing the Florida Keys for over 20 years, offering a "no fish - no pay" guarantee.

Florida Keys Tarpon Wrangler

Photo Credit: floridakeystarponwrangler.com
380 Les Rohde Drive, Summerland Key, FL 33042 • (305) 619-7519 • https://www.floridakeystarponwrangler.com

All-inclusive, daytime fishing charters for up to four guests. Servicing Marathon, Summerland Key, Bahai Honda, and Big Pine Key areas.

Islamorada Backcountry Charters With Capt. Ted

Photo Credit: captaintedwilson.com
79851 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036 • (305) 942-5224 • https://captaintedwilson.com

Captain Ted offers an all-access pass through the Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, and near-shore waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Departing from Bud and Mary’s Marina. Also offering duck and alligator hunting trips!

Jeni Lyn Sport Fishing

12648 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050 • (305) 394-2620 • https://marathonsportfishing.net

Fishing excursions into Marathon, Islamorada, and Key West. Fishing guides born and raised in the Florida Keys with more than 45 years of experience in local waters..

Main Attraction

Photo Credit: mainattraction_sportfishing_ via Instagram
400 Sadowski Causeway, Key Colony Beach, FL 33051 • (305) 289-0071 • https://mainattraction.org

Offering Florida Keys deep sea sport fishing charters for more than 40 years, as well as off-shore, reef/wreck, and tarpon excursions. Specializing in light tackle, live bait fishing. "No fish - no pay!"

SeaSquared Charters

Photo Credit: seasquaredcharters via Instagram
(305) 743-5305 • https://seasquaredcharters.com

Variety of customized charters, including reef and wreck fishing, lobster snorkeling, and more. 4-hour tarpon trips in the waters surrounding the Seven Mile Bridge and Bahia Honda Bridge.

Sweet E'Nuf Charters

Photo Credit: SweetEnufCharters via Facebook
11601 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 610-4778 • https://www.sweetenufcharters.com

Family-friendly charter service offering a variety of excursions - including reef trips, offshore trips, night snapper trips, tarpon trips, and more.