tarpon migratory behavior [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: tarpon migratory behavior


juro
12-18-2007, 12:01 PM
Who can tell me firsthand about experiences with migrating tarpon? I want to chase pods of tarpon from the surf this upcoming year. On foot. Somewhere beautiful, with frozen drinks made with real fruit and fresh lobster tails.

I know a thing or two about migratory behavior from 8 years of striped bass migration study and envision the parallel.

josko
12-18-2007, 07:55 PM
Wall, they seem to be at la Guajira this time of year, around the Virgin Islands in Feb-March, Bahamas starting in late March and Florida April-May...

petevicar
12-19-2007, 05:32 AM
Juro
You can't be serious wanting to chase migrating tarpon on foot. Have you seen the size of them?
The migrating fish are a totally different proposition to residents.
They fight like crazy and run a long long way. I have landed quite a few but alway in a boat. Normally you have to follow the fish.
On foot you will need 500 yards of backing and you must now go into training.
Also most of the fish I have hooked have been in approx 6ft of water. They follow the shore line.

Your idea that you want to chase pods of tarpon is perhaps not quite correct. If you can get into the right position they will come to you. They are fish that are constantly moving in one direction, depending on the tide.
They do not move into an area and then move out a few days later.

Pete

juro
12-19-2007, 08:29 AM
Pete -

You only encourage me with such information :lildevl:

petevicar
12-19-2007, 08:36 AM
OK here's some more encouragement:
The small fish may go to 80 lbs the bigger up to 150lbs+.

Fighting them on foot will be extremely difficult as you must get the rod tip low and keep turning them. When you are waist deep I can imagine this is quite difficult.

To land a fish quickly you have got to fight it and not it play with you, as I'm sure you know.

I wish you lots of luck. There again have you thought about a pair of waterskis?

Pete

n1gdo
12-19-2007, 10:10 AM
Juro...

Heed these words!

You all know me. You know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for ya, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like goin' down to the pond chasing bluegills or tommycod. This fish will swallow you whole!!!

Eddie
12-19-2007, 12:33 PM
I don't know much about tarpon, but what experience I have is mostly with "migrating" fish. My understanding is that they will follow a comfortable depth contour. In the Keys, that seems to be around 4-8'. They will bounce off of shallower humps and points, and follow the edges of flats. They follow these routes year after year.
I'm sure they "migrate" through deeper water, but they would be hard to see and pole after, so I don't know anything about those fish.

If I were going to wade after these fish, I would try to find a spot (a jetty perhaps or some kind of point) that would funnel the fish within casting distance. Wading in 5' of water will probably not make for good fishing. I have never seen anyone wade for "migrating" fish.

I think that people on the Gulf side (Texas?) fish for them from beaches and jetties. I saw a cool video of Larry Dahlberg catching them in the surf (Africa) with conventional tackle. These fish were going air born in the surfline. What a sight.

Man, it would be tough to land a 100# fish on foot. It probably wouldn't survive the fight. I saw a video of Jose Wejebe landing a tarpon from shore (at a naval base under lights). That fish was toast.

Eric
12-19-2007, 02:25 PM
"frozen drinks made with real fruit and fresh lobster tails".

Yuck!

Cheers,

Eric

Frogfish
12-19-2007, 02:58 PM
They're in the Keys yearlong...Especially around Islamorada and Marathon.

Dave17
12-19-2007, 04:46 PM
Juro,

Check your PM's

juro
12-19-2007, 05:11 PM
I have never seen anyone wade for "migrating" fish.

In almost a decade of specifically studying the striper migration I have seen less than 5 other people wading the migratory routes until I spread the word through the forum claves a couple years ago (and three of these 5 people I knew well). That doesn't mean the others weren't out there too (up and down the coast), but my point is that there are still pearls of unconventional wisdom to be gleaned even in the 21st century.

I assume if the 4-6ft line is their dawn track, then conventional wisdom is to follow the pods by boat near shore at more comfortable times of day for guides and clients. With their worldwide distribution I can imagine there are countless miles of ambush shorelines where silver kings pass in the calm morning hours before the wind kicks up and brunch starts.

Frogfish
12-19-2007, 05:35 PM
They come in pretty close to many beaches, especially when the glass minnows are there. You might be able to wade out and hook one if you get the fly like 70 ft out or so...

arubaman
12-19-2007, 07:18 PM
Itīs not totally migratory, but my bet would be to look out for lagunaīs or other freshwater outlets tosea. Here usually you have a drop off edge which sometimes can be shallow enough to stand on the edge.
Or holes in reefs/cays.
Keep us posted!

Eddie
12-19-2007, 09:29 PM
I assume if the 4-6ft line is their dawn track, then conventional wisdom is to follow the pods by boat near shore at more comfortable times of day for guides and clients. With their worldwide distribution I can imagine there are countless miles of ambush shorelines where silver kings pass in the calm morning hours before the wind kicks up and brunch starts.

Why would you assume that? I have fished through out the day, and I rarely see them out of that depth range (usually they are spooked of seem confused...no doubt we are confused). Who cares about tarpon migrating in 200' of water and I doubt they spend much time "migrating" in water under 4'.

Most guides are off the water just after brunch.

Good guides do not "follow" pods. They know the route and they they position the boat in a place that has the right combination of visibility, wind direction, angler pressure etc. They look for spots that will concentrate the fish. Once on the spot, they move in and out from the shore depending on the tide. Imagine a well traveled highway that moves in and out. The Capt. I fish with is rarely off by 80'. I cast to fish while we are staked out eating sandwiches almost every time we go out. That is how predictable the route is. He never stakes out (except for lunch and crazy wind) and usually makes very small adjustments. Why chase them when they will come to you? Find a shore spot that is like a boat spot.

"Migrating fish" seem to be more grabby before the sun hits the water, but the frequency and size of schools seem to have little bearing to time of day. There is nothing worse than a windless blue bird day. Great vis and staggering rejection.

Think of "migrating" tarpon like other fish in a spawning cycle (like steelhead). Their habits are not the same as resident fish. They aren't hanging out and they're not on the feed. It just so happens that while they are going from point a-b and bright feathery thing catches their eye and because it is moving just right, they can't help but to grab it. I don't know if the "stage" the way steelhead do. Maybe in deep cuts? Seems risky. I always assumed that the fish caught in deep channels and cuts (usually on bait) are resident. I don't know. I like to think of migrating tarpon to be akin to salmon and steelhead.

I would not call the tarpon's range world wide, but I'm sure their are plenty of spots where migrating tarpon can be fished to from shore by a flyfisherman.

So, what's your plan?

n1gdo
12-20-2007, 07:37 AM
Looking back through some of my old DIY trip notes I think you could find what you want in the spring and fall in SW Florida.

I am not sure when the best time to go would be but I do remember walking a beach in November with the 8# and seeing big Snook in the surf line, hooking big Reds, saw several Tarpon rolling within casting distance of the fly rod.

It would not be an easy task to hook and land a big tarpon but you would be in the game.

Do a search for all the fishing forums about the best times in SW Florida for Tarpon fishing and I bet you could find your spot.

Good Luck

juro
12-20-2007, 07:48 AM
Eddie -

Nothing like the voice of experience, thanks.

When you say "There is nothing worse than a windless blue bird day. Great vis and staggering rejection" I hear the words of a person from a boat. The shorebound angler is vulnerable to rejection but not on account of vis problems, unless of course he or she wears red against a blue sky or intrudes into the water noisily. This is where the two-hander shines.

With all due respect for your guide savvy I can tell you haven't fished the striper migration from shore - and I would enjoy having you and Tom come fish the striper migration with me sometime.

You do need to chase them if and only if the first cast is not in the proper lane. If it is, you will with nearly 100% certainty be fighting a fish. Of course you can opt to let them pass. But that is foolhardy at best when you can reposition yourself and enjoy those odds rather than wait for the next pod.

I would even venture to say that without having fished the tarpon migration (yet), the parallels in these two phenomenon are as closely knit as the striper's similarities to bonefish while strafing Monomoy flats.

My plan is to witness this and capture it on film.

MRobertson
12-20-2007, 09:19 AM
I think Pete is right on this one. Sounds like a good way to feed the sharks.

juro
12-20-2007, 02:57 PM
I am concerned about needless harm to these great fish, but in reality the thrill of the take and a few jumps are plenty of fun. In fact I only fished from a boat once the entire time in a recent trip to Puerto Rico's Porta Del Sol region and Culebra Island. I didn't do much better landing them by myself in the boat either, but I had a fantastic time hooking them.

Frankly, I can't see how people enjoy the other hour of towing around in a boat for the picture anyway. Capturing their approach, the cast, the take and the leaps on film is enough.

Then I can join the guides for brunch. All what you are interested in achieving I guess.

Adrian
12-20-2007, 05:06 PM
Oceanside Punta Allen area in July used to be pretty consistent - if you get lucky and a hurricane doesn't put the mockers on everything :roll:

Of course it gets hot that time of year and the bugs will suck every last drop of blood out of your body if the breeze drops after sundown.

petevicar
12-21-2007, 05:30 AM
I am concerned about needless harm to these great fish, but in reality the thrill of the take and a few jumps are plenty of fun. In fact I only fished from a boat once the entire time in a recent trip to Puerto Rico's Porta Del Sol region and Culebra Island. I didn't do much better landing them by myself in the boat either, but I had a fantastic time hooking them.

Frankly, I can't see how people enjoy the other hour of towing around in a boat for the picture anyway. Capturing their approach, the cast, the take and the leaps on film is enough.

Then I can join the guides for brunch. All what you are interested in achieving I guess.

Juro
If you want to film and photo them I would suggest that a boat is a better option because from a higher up position you can see the fish coming from a long way off.

If you are interested in the real horny aspects of tarpon fishing then you should consider fishing for laid up tarpon.

You seen a log in the water and as you get closer you realise it is a fish. You cast your fly a few feet in front of the head and slowly bump the fly, bunny patterns are best. The fish slowly moves to the fly and its huge mouth opens and sucks it in. You set the hook and reset and reset again and again and the fish jumps out of the water. It is bigger than you are you look at the thin piece of graphite in your hand and you suddenly find religion.

That in my opinion is the most exciting few seconds that you can have as a saltwater fly fisherman.

Pete

Swalt
12-21-2007, 07:54 AM
Juro, here is something a bit different that could interest you. I have a friend that spent time on Anegada catching tarpon off the beach. These are not the huge migratory tarpon but 60lb or so. I have information from him I can get to you if you are interested.
I have been to Anegada a number of times and it fits all your other requirements. Tropical drinks, beautiful beaches, exploration and its a decent place to do bonefish on your own. You can find fairly cheap places to stay there. The major cost is getting there.

juro
12-21-2007, 08:21 AM
Pete -

Your description gets me looking for flights RIGHT NOW but I draw a blank when it asks for the destination city... still need to find that 'perfect spot'. I see your point about the point of view from the deck.

Thanks walt I will check it out!

Eddie - you are right they occur only in the Atlantic Ocean although have been seen in the pacific terminus of the Panama Canal. They have a huge range though, but not worldwide to your point.

doctorsteve
12-21-2007, 09:12 AM
Juro,
If you find the right place, I'm in!

juro
12-21-2007, 12:09 PM
The private conversations have been yielding some very promising options! I will keep you posted. There are three of us so far who are plotting this escape. We've got room for more.


It looks like tarpon aren't as far north as Florida until spring / early summer so the destination should be more tropical during the coldest months up here.

Dave17
12-21-2007, 08:15 PM
you know I'm there :smokin:

Any guess on where my PM was from?

petevicar
12-22-2007, 12:06 PM
If the dates work out I will be glad to give it a try.

You can catch tarpon up to about 60lbs from the beach at Los Roques but they are not migratory.


Pete

petevicar
12-23-2007, 07:16 AM
Hi Everyone.
I am very interested in this so called tarpon migration.
In April big tarpon appear in big numbers in Florida apparently moving North. They disappear in June.

I have fished in the Keys many times during this "migration" and have had a reasonable amount of success.

My question is: Is this a real migration with the fish moving from one area to another or do the fish simply move out of deeper water into shallower water when it warms up in early summer, then moving out as the water gets too warm.

If this is a true migration then where are the fish in winter and is it possible to map their movements throughout the year.

Thanks in advance for any information.

Pete

Mat M
12-23-2007, 07:28 AM
Hi Pete,

I know bonefsh and tarpon unlimited are doing some research on this. Drop Aaron an email and he will point you in the right direction. He has always been helpful when I have asked for research contacts.

Mat

Geordie Shanks
12-23-2007, 01:46 PM
Juro

I have only fished for Tarpon once and didn't even see a fish. However, I managed a fly shop for 5 years and had one customer that spent a lot of time in Florida (his parents owned a house on one of the keys) who claimed that he waded out into a lagoon and hooked into a 50-60 pound tarpon on the fly while wading. This guy was trustworthy and I generally believe him (as much as you can believe a fly shop rat!!). The tarpon completely cleaned him out. Ran, jumped a couple times, then ran again and totally "pinged" his 200 yards of backing off, leaving him with an empty reel. Sound like fun!! I admire your spunk and got a great laugh off your encouragement comment. What the hell? Give it a shot and let us know how you do. I think that would be a killer experience and you would have another great story for the campfire.