In 2018 rob paxevanos from fishing Australia TV contacted me to possibly set up a once in a lifetime tarpon fishing trip for him and his sponsors for his tv show. He was torn between fishing Boca Grande and the Florida Keys. He choose Boca Grande and got enough footage in the first 3 hours of tarpon fishing the first day to make a great show. The majority of my clients, roughly 85% percent fly to Florida to just fish, not go to the beach to build sand castles or go to Disney world, Rob and his crew would make the 22 hour flight again just to fish Boca Grande!
Tarpon fishing charters offered April through October
During a typical year, I start tarpon fishing in Boca Grande around the first week of April. This depends heavily on the current weather conditions though. Some years I start to see tarpon as early as March and others the tarpon don’t show up in good numbers til the middle of April. Tarpon are a sub tropical fish, and they do not tolerate cold water well, therefore, the warmer the water temperature the earlier the tarpon will show up. Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor simply offers the best tarpon fishing found in the United States. From April through October there isn’t a single location in Florida that holds as many tarpon as Charlotte Harbor, not even the 100 mile stretch of Islands known as the Florida Keys.
Boca Grande tarpon fishing season, April-May 2022
Charlotte Harbor is the second largest estuary in the state. There are two main rivers that dump directly into Charlotte Harbor, the Peace river and the Myakka river. Charlotte Harbor in turn flows through Boca Grande Pass. During the winter resident tarpon will migrate up the rivers to find warmer water. I have found that once the water temperature in the Harbor nears 75 degrees the resident tarpon that migrated into the rivers migrate back into Charlotte Harbor. These tarpon have one thing on their minds, and that is to eat. Early April through early May these tarpon will feed on the giant schools of thread-fin herring that also show up in Charlotte Harbor around the same time as the tarpon.
Historically, fishing pressure has been minimal this time of year. However, there are many guides that also migrate to the Boca Grande area to fish for tarpon from all over the state. During April these guides are not fishing in Charlotte Harbor. I have lived my entire life and guided my entire career in Charlotte Harbor.
After the tarpon show up in Boca Grande I will start to develop a pattern. Tarpon fishing in early April is very weather dependent. One cold front and the tarpon fishing can change overnight. The only way to be successful at tarpon fishing in Boca Grande during this time is to be on the water and have some local knowledge. Once the out of town guides arrive in Boca Grande in May I have already been tarpon fishing for a month. April is truly a special time to fish for tarpon in Boca Grande.
Boca Grande tarpon fishing mid season, May-June 2022
By May the large schools of migrating tarpon have generally began to show up in good numbers in Boca Grande and the surrounding area. Early May, during a typical year will mark my fifth week of tarpon fishing in Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande. Once the tarpon arrive in Boca Grande so does the nomad fleet of fishing guides from all over the state.
During May and June the number of tarpon that migrate to Boca Grande can be found no other place in the world. Boca Grande tarpon fishing is simply billed as “the tarpon capital of the world”. There are many different ways to fish for tarpon in Boca Grande this time of year. I prefer to fish with live bait and medium heavy spinning gear. Boca Grande tarpon fishing is so good because the tarpon travel to Boca Grande pass for their pre-spawn ritual. On afternoon days in Boca Grande Pass you can see thousands of tarpon migrating towards the west to spawn. These tarpon need to be well energized to make such a long swim to the spawning grounds. Boca Grande Pass offers these tarpon a super sized buffet.
I fish both the morning and the afternoon in May and June for tarpon in Boca Grande. It is hard to predict far out which trip will offer the best fishing for a particular day. Some days the morning tarpon fishing is better and others the afternoon tarpon fishing is better, that is as far as my prediction can go until about the night before a trip. The one thing I can predict about Boca Grande tarpon fishing before your trip is that you will have plenty of shots to catch tarpon. During the months of May, June, and into July there is an afternoon tide that is referred to as the “hill” tide in Boca Grande Pass.
The one type of tarpon “fishing” I do not offer to my clients is “jig” fishing inside Boca Grande Pass. Most of my returing clients as well as potential clients that are familiar with tarpon fishing in or around Boca Grande are very familiar with what the term “jig” fishing means in relation to Boca Grande. It has become clear to me that new anglers to the area may not know exactley what I’m trying to describe when I just say I will not or do not “Jig” fish. Boca Grande Pass “jig” fishing is a method that a lot of novice fishing guides use, not only is it very annoying to do it is very disruptive and very harmful to the Boca Grande Tarpon fishery. Basically, the fishing “guide” will CHASE down a school of tarpon with his outboard, throw his boat in reverse and have his clients drop 6 ounce pieces of lead with the hook attached to the top of the lead below the school of tarpon. The tarpon will swim into the line and become snagged. This type of tarpon “fishing” is the exact opposite thing that a angler would want to do in order to catch a tarpon, if of course the angler wanted to catch their tarpon inside the mouth. I encourage you to please click on the links below to see why I do not “jig” fish for tarpon and why I think it is a bad thing for our fishery. You can make the judgement call if you want to fish this way or not for tarpon, if you do that is fine, you just won’t fish that way with me.
Boca grande pass hill tides
“Hill” tides refer to the afternoon outgoing tides two days before and two days after the full and new moons. During these tides thousands of crabs are flushed through Boca Grande Pass. Boca Grande Pass “Hill” tides can be a great way to fish for tarpon.
Boca Grande Hill tide update
The hill tides in Boca Grande during the 2015 tarpon season offered some of the BEST tarpon fishing I have seen in the last decade. Given this fact, most of my clients who fished with me during the Hill tides in 2015 continue to schedule their return trips around the hill tides, however I have a few prime hill tide dates left. The Hill tides in Boca Grande occur 2 days before and 2 days after the Full and New Moons in May, June, and July.
2022 update- All hill tides in June are open for booking for this season, I normally do not have any of these days available to book for new or returning clients as I have had the same client fish the majority of these tides for the last decade. Please contact me for availability. Edit* all hill tide dates for 2022 have been filled. I’m currently booking for 2023 Boca Grande spring dates, please feel free to contact me for additional information.
There are a lot of guides who try to target tarpon in Boca Grande during the spring spawning season, there are always new guides as well who show up and try to run charters who have absolutely no clue on how to properly fish our area. A lot of these guides use tripadvisor, facebook, and instagram to advertise their services. I pride myself on being the top tarpon guide in Charlotte Harbor/Boca Grande area. There is not another guide who targets tarpon even half as much as I do. All I target April through October is tarpon, I do not fish for anything else. The easiest part of my tarpon charters is hooking tarpon, the daily grind of actually finding tarpon is the hardest part. I pride myself on being able to find tarpon no matter what the weather is. More than likely if you book another top guide in my area and that guide is having a tough day finding where the tarpon are they are going to call me at some point to ask for some help. Don’t be fooled by instagram or facebook post, the top guides in my area avoid posting up to date photos of tarpon as to not give away their location as to where they are fishing. A lot has changed in the 20 years that I have been guiding, social media is such a double edge sword for my industry, it is a great tool to advertise your services but there is a price to pay by showing off every tarpon you hook or land. Most guides in my area who post daily on social media are the guides you want to avoid, they are the guides who have the least amount of etiquette and are the least respected in the small circle of tarpon guides. If you hire a guide and get to experience fishing schools of tarpon and not see another boat or very few boats during your trip then you have found one of the top guides in my area, if your guide is on the phone every 15 minute making phone calls to all his buddies to look for a report or pulls up to a boat fishing a area or pod of tarpon that has another boat on it then you have found one of the many istaguides. The fishing etiquette in Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande has been on the decline for over a decade, the last 5 years it has been completely out of control. The biggest issue is with guides and not with recreational anglers. For the 2023 tarpon season I will offer referal to other guides if I’m booked, normally in the past I did not make that a priority as I did not want to be recommend another guide and the guide and client didn’t gel and be responsible for a client having a bad trip. If I refer a guide to a potential client please know that it will be another top guide in my area, I will not refer a guide to someone so I can make a kick back as a lot of other guides will do, I will pass on all the other guides information and you will set your trip up directly with them.
Boca grande tarpon fishing, charlotte harbor tarpon fishing. Late summer through the first few cold fronts
For some reason everything you read about tarpon fishing in Boca Grande tends to make the average angler think that tarpon fishing ends after early July. Let me make one thing very clear about tarpon fishing in Boca Grande – the only species that leaves after June are the majority of the fishing guides and 95% of the fishing pressure. There are only a few guides that target tarpon daily August through October in Charlotte Harbor/Boca Grande, and by a few I mean less than 5. To the best of my knowledge there is not another tarpon guide that fishes for tarpon as much as I do during that time frame. I started the 2014 Tarpon Season on April 2nd, I ran my last tarpon charter in 2014 on October 30th. I would have tarpon fished later into the year but mother nature unleashed some major cold fronts during October, the tarpon fishing became to inconsistent to offer anymore quality charters. I consistently target tarpon 7 months of the year in Charlotte Harbor/Boca Grande. Everyone is a tarpon guide in May and June, I am a tarpon guide more than half of the year and if it were up to me, I would run tarpon charters year round. July-October is my favorite time of the year to fish for tarpon. The nomad tarpon fleet is gone and the tarpon have only one purpose this time of year, to eat as much food as they can before they migrate to their winter locations. It is common to have thousands of tarpon all to yourself this time of year and not see another boat for miles. These fish will stay in Charlotte Harbor and be reliable to fish until a few cold fronts roll through the area. I have caught tarpon up to 200 pounds Christmas week some years – It all depends on the current weather conditions.
September and October have became highly popular months for me over the last five years, I have limited days left open for September 2020 and October 2020. If you would like to book one of my few days I have left open please contact me ASAP. There is no other fishing guide in the Charlotte Harbor or Boca Grande area that targets tarpon as much as I do, if you want to enjoy the some of the best tarpon fishing found anywhere on the planet then the late summer early fall is when you want to fish, you will not be disappointed.
I have scrolled through a few other websites that offer tarpon fishing in Boca Grande, it’s funny some of them say not all Boca Grande tarpon charters are the same. Capt so and so has been tarpon fishing Boca Grande for 30 years, blah blah blah. They are right not all tarpon charters in Charlotte Harbor are the same, there are only a select few tarpon guides who target tarpon for more than 6 months a year. Ask your prospective tarpon guide to take you fishing for anything other than tarpon April through October, if they agree to go snook fishing or grouper fishing then you haven’t found one of the select few true tarpon guides. I’m not the only one but I’m one of the very few!
NO TARPON GUARANTEE, NO TARPON, NO PAY POLICY!
I WILL MATCH ANY TARPON GUARANTEE, NO TARPON, NO PAY PROMISE THAT YOU FIND FROM MY DIRECT COMPETITION. I WILL GO ONE STEP FURTHER AND HONOR ANY GUARANTEE YOU FIND FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON, NOT JUST MAY AND JUNE LIKE YOU WILL MOST LIKELY FIND. SIMPLY EMAIL ME THE LINK TO THE GUARANTEE.