Tarpon season has officially begun

A tarpon leaps from the water in the Florida Bay off Islamorada.
A tarpon leaps from the water in the Florida Bay off Islamorada.

Tarpon season is here! It's official, they are biting.

Tarpon are biting both in the Everglades and in many of the bridge channels closer to home. Live mullet, live pilchards and live blue crabs are all working. Most of the guides out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina have been finding multiple tarpon for their anglers each trip. Some guides use a float to help separate baits and to help see. Other guides do not use a float as a matter of preference. It is called fishing and not catching, so keeping in mind that you may not catch a tarpon on every single trip is a good way to keep it real. However, there are also lots of sharks to catch and the occasional sawfish, which is always very exciting if you happen to get to see one of those.

In the Bay, the trout bite is still going strong. There are two main concentrations of trout right now — near the shoreline in the north central area of Florida Bay, (a few in Tin Can Channel) and further west near Sandy Key area. Very often mangrove snapper are mixed in with trout near Sandy Key.

Overall, Everglades fishing has been highly productive these past couple of weeks.

Offshore reports were productive as well. Dolphin fishing is shaping up and getting better each week, I’m going to say, fairly consistently. Skippers that put the time in scanning the horizon for birds and debris have been able to put a good catch together in a full day’s outing anywhere from eight miles out to the deep, deep 29-mile range, near the swordfish grounds.

Captain Ross Early guided three anglers to a happy experience aboard his Early Bird charter boat recently, mixing it up for them catching one giant triple tail off a piece of debris, one amberjack, eight dolphin and a beautiful 165-pound swordfish from the deep water.

The Lakey family took a daytrip with Capt. Jon Reynolds aboard the Drop Back, out of Postcard Inn and Marina. They had lots of action and variety, including some kingfish, a nice mutton snapper, a limit of yellowtail snapper and a half-dozen gaffer-sized dolphin. They even caught a big bull that weighed 30 pounds. There was a 42-pound bull caught aboard the charter boat Phoebe. Look for more slammers in the near future as tournament season for those is right around the corner.

I look for yellowtail snapper to go into spawn mode over the next few months, generally speaking, and a continued bite of muttons at the reef's edge. As the water temperature warms overall, night fishing will begin to look more attractive around Independence Day, which will be here before we know it.

Another thing that's happening over the wrecks at the reef is permit are showing up in numbers and will take a live crab about the size of your palm if it's presented properly. Look for the green stain right on the surface.

There are lots of options to enjoy around the areas of the Upper Keys as May quickly approaches.

Capt. Donald Deputy writes for The Reporter every other week. Reach him direct with your very own personal fish tales and photos at