Everglades Fly Fishing Charters
Everglades & 10,000 Islands Fly Fishing and Light Tackle Charters • Captain Buddy Ferber • (239) 298-3863

Everglades Tarpon: Strong, feisty and fun to catch

If you’re targeting tarpon, then you’re looking for a fight.

Just imagine battling with one of these enormous fish as it flips and tosses in the air. Once hooked, tarpon (also known as “Silver King” or the “Poon”) provide a thrilling tug-of-war every time.

These fish are surprisingly strong and are quick to strike flies or artificial baits.  And lucky for us, some of the best tarpon fishing is right here in Florida.

What you should know about tarpon

  • The IGFA world record is 286 pounds  9 ounces, with the fly rod record being 202 pounds 8 ounces, taken in Chassahowitza, Florida.
  • The peak season is March through July.
  • It’s common for tarpon to weigh between 80-100 pounds, but they can reach up to 200 pounds as well.
  • There are 2 species: Atlantic tarpon (which live near Florida) and the Indo-Pacific tarpon. Both species are found in saltwater and freshwater.
  • Atlantic tarpon can be found from Virginia to Brazil, throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • Tarpon can be caught year-round, as a significant number of the fish do not migrate.
  • If the water is warm enough in the backcountry, you can also find them in the winter.

These are truly fascinating fish. Tarpon are able to survive in low-salinity waters because they have ‘swim bladders,’ which are prehistoric lungs that have evolved over time.

But what’s most remarkable about these fish is their strength and acrobatics, especially when hooked. This makes them an excellent target for fly fishing.

Truly challenging fishing

We’ll target tarpon out in the Everglades National Park and 10,000 Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Here you can find the fish “laid up,” when they lay motionless on the bottom or in the water column. This is where true angling skill comes into play – it can be challenging to make a cast to a ‘sleeper’ tarpon without being detected.  One can also “jump” (hook) tarpon by casting to them as they roll on the surface, or swim by you on the flats.

And if you’d like to chase tarpon here, get ready for a hunt. This isn’t anything like the Florida Keys and the Boca Grande area, where you set up for fish to swim by you. Hooking a mature tarpon in this region takes a thorough understanding of the conditions that will allow you to site cast directly to the quarry…which is why I continue to devote time to this aspect of my guiding.  The added focus has paid off, with lots of tarpon jumped over the past few years!

Recommended tackle for tarpon

According to veteran angler Andy Mill, who wrote a Passion for Tarpon, an excellent fly to use is the Toad. He also recommends purple and black or brown and orange for the Everglades backcountry.

Other flies that should be used to target tarpon include:

  • Black Death
  • The Cockroach
  • Big Eyed Tarpon
  • Marabou Bunny Patterns
  • Sliders
  • EP Baitfish patterns, such as Mullet, Finger Mullet, Peanut Butter (Bunker), Boca Grande Tarpon and his Tarpon Streamer

In the Florida Keys and here in the Everglades, every time I’ve hooked up with a large fish I’ve been using either a black, brown, or purple fly.  Chartreuse has also been an effective color for all species in our brackish, stained waters.  I also like to use 2/0 to 3/0 hooks without weed-guards.

For more information about flies or for pattern ideas, please visit:

When you book a tour with me, we’ll fish for tarpon with 10-12 weight fly rods.  For the juvenile tarpon, snook, and redfish, 8-10 weight rods work well.  Although I do supply the reels, rods, flies and all other gear, please bring your own equipment if you prefer.

Everglades Tarpon: Strong, feisty and fun to catch August 13, 2014

Let’s Go Fishing!

Captain Buddy Ferber
(239) 298-3863