It’s time I give a update to the 2020 Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor tarpon season. What a up and down year 2020 has been for all of us. I came into the 2020 season with a full charter schedule as I normally do. Now that my season is just about complete and the dust has settled for me 2020 will be my slowest tarpon season in 15 years, I believe 2005 was the last tarpon season that I had where I didn’t have every day booked from April 15th through the 4th of July. Luckily I think I will be able to survive this huge downfall without accruing any debt to to pay my bills. I know Covid19 was a huge hit to almost every industry but the tourism industry in Florida really got hit hard. So, lets talk about how the tarpon fishing was for the 2020 season…..
I did not do a single tarpon charter in April, I depend heavily on my clients flying to Boca Grande from all over the world to target tarpon with me. I had nearly every day booked in April and by March 20th I lost nearly every single trip and by April 1st I think I had officially lost every charter I had booked in April. I can not blame my clients for canceling, the situation was extremely fluid during that time and it seemed all the information regarding Covid19 was changing hourly, most hotels and restaurants were closed or closing, airlines were canceling flights and a lot of people were in straight panic mode. However, all the cancellations allowed me to do something I havent done in years and that was to go fishing with my friends and family. I caught my first tarpon of the season in early April, normally I do not catch my first tarpon till the late summer or early fall. I fished about 10 days in April and the tarpon fishing was excellent. The migratory schools of silver kings began showing up in late February this year and by early April Tarpon could be found throughout Charlotte Harbor and up and down the beaches. The fishing pressure this time of the season (Late March through April) is historically very light, this year there was even less pressure on the fish which I’m sure had them very happy.
May/June 2020 did not dissapoint, the hill tides were once again very consistent. I began fishing everyday on May 5th, I was able to fill in cancellations with some new clients. The beach fishing was very good throughout the spring, I was able to fish most days without seeing many boats. I try to do my best fishing away from the crowds, most guides do not have the knowledge or pacience to do this but a select few of us do. While most other guides are fishing around the fleet I’m able to fish areas where the fish are much happier and willing to take a bait. It’s funny to see multiple boats/fishing guides fish a single school of tarpon, this normally leads to fighting between other and putting multiple boats on a single school of tarpon is a quick way to shut the bite down.
The late summer/early Fall is y favorite time to target tarpon. If you fish with me this time of the season then you know that the tarpon act completely different than they do any other time of the year. I had a solid schedule in September and October and the fishing inside Charlotte Harbor was the best it has been in 7 years. The giant schools of minnows and ladyfish had the tarpon losing their minds. I had some days in late September when I lost count of how many tarpon we hooked. The tarpon fishing remains strong, I have 2 more weeks of scheduled trips but at this point I believe the season will last into November so I can accommodate some lat minute request to fish this season. There isn’t another tarpon guide in my area that targets tarpon consistently in the late summer and fall, I have spent my entire adult life guiding for tarpon and I have them dialed in better than anyone else can this time of year. It takes years of fishing nealry everyday in Septeber and October to know where, when, and most importantly why the tarpon are feeding where they are.
If you would like to book a last minute Boca Grande tarpon fishing charter for 2020 please feel free to contact me. The fishing is absolutely insane right now. Stay tight- Capt. Chuck Jenks