Places to Fish for Tarpon

by Darlena Cunha
Tarpon are considered great game fish.

Tarpon are considered great game fish.

Jupiterimages/ Images

The blazing sun heats your back through your vest as the line goes taut. The rod ticks out quickly, and you struggle to get it under control. If you're lucky, maybe it will be a tarpon. Tarpon are considered impressive game fish for both their size and their whole-hearted struggle when caught; they can leap into the air, providing great spectacles for onlookers. They're bony fish, making them hard to eat, and often they're thrown back once they've been reeled in. There are multiple tournaments devoted to tarpon fishing, so knowing where to find them can aid an ambitious fisher.


Tarpon migrate north to the warm waters of Florida starting around mid-May. You can most easily find them at Boca Grande Pass, which has two tunnel-like openings for deep fishing and houses hundreds of tarpon. Other popular areas for the fish include Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, located low on the Gulf of Mexico. If you prefer to fly fish for tarpon, you can troll the beaches on the Gulf side as far north as Englewood. The tarpon usually inhabit these waters until mid-July.

The West Indies

Many islands in the West Indies, including the Bahamas, offer chartered fishing tours for novices to practice their game while enjoying a relaxing vacation. You don't need a scheduled tour under experts to catch tarpon there, though. Mature tarpon are caught from canoes and kayaks as well as equipped fishing boats. One of the key reasons people of all skill levels enjoy fishing for tarpon is that the fish can be found in deep or shallow water, allowing the fisher to choose his own difficulty level.

The Yucatan Peninsula

You can find both competitive and amateur tarpon fishing on the coast of Mexico, especially on the Yucatan Peninsula, from mid-April to late July. Tarpon behave consistently, migrating to waters that stay at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Traveling there in June should guarantee you a few good catches. The Yucatan Peninsula is known for its juvenile tarpon, including well-populated fisheries along its west coast. Unlike the deep and coastal fishing for mature tarpon, the young fish can be found in the canals and estuary grasslands near land. Fish during high tides, so that the water in these areas isn't too shallow.

The Panama Canal

Tarpon are hearty fish, able to survive in briny waters without much oxygen, but they can survive in many environment, including fresh water. Many tarpon anglers try their hand fishing the Gatun Lake, a freshwater body at the Panama Canal. The tarpon there are plentiful, so fishers can catch as many as they can handle without worrying about limits. Many resorts in the area cater to anglers, providing charters out onto the lake, which is surrounded by lush rain forest.

About the Author

Darlena Cunha has been a writer and editor since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Connecticut. Cunha is also completing her master's degree in mass communication.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images