The focus of fishing around the Sarasota, FL area really shifted over the last month as the summer heat came on strong in June. The heat has really slowed down the fishing on the shallow flats. Getting on the water around sunrise and getting off by 10 AM produced the best results. The most favorable fishing we experienced in June was when we were targeting tarpon after dark or early in the morning.

tarpon fishing

Matt Rudy likes tarpon

Fishing For Tarpon at Night

At night we had some really incredible trips chasing tarpon. Most of the trips were fly fishing trips, but we did have a few spinning tackle trips mixed in. The warm temperatures and the large amount of baitfish present caused the tarpon to feed heavily at night. Most of the fish we’re targeting at night are juvenile tarpon. However, there were two nights where adults were in the mix, feeding heavily on a dense schools of pilchards. The adult tarpon were a challenge to connect with, but we did manage to jump a few on both nights.

When fly fishing for tarpon at night, we use a specialized large and robust EP pattern fly. For spinning tackle, we’re using purple DOA Baitbusters and darker colored 1/2 ounce DOA Terror Eyz . We jumped a good amount of fish on every trip during the month.

On one night, we had a tarpon jump into the boat. After we had given the fish a strong strip set, it charged the boat in a jumping rampage. The tarpon slammed onto the back deck of the skiff on the portside and we watched it as it slid along slapping and flapping its way to the starboard side until it slid back into the water. That was the first cast of the night and the fishing only got better after that. We ended up bringing four tarpon to the boat that night. We had another night where every tarpon we pinned was big, but managed to bring just one fish to the boat. That’s tarpon fishing.

Backcountry Tarpon

While fishing for juvenile tarpon at sunrise we found a few areas in remote brackish creeks and rivers holding large numbers of fish. These fish were most active at sunrise and the feeding seemed to taper off by late morning. This is exciting sight-fishing in the backcountry. We used gurglers and baitfish pattern flies up to 3” long to target these fish. This is a fun trip that came from an angler’s request for a daytime juvenile tarpon charter in the backcountry.  These fish seem to range in size from 10 – 40lbs. Occasionally, we’ll see a larger fish in the 60 lbs. range. Juveniles are unbelievably athletic fish and can string together a series of acrobatic jumps that seem impossible.

backcountry tarpon

Backcountry Tarpon on the Fly!

I’m looking forward to staying on the tarpon in July. We have some good tides this month for both night and morning trips. We’ll likely spend a bit of time on early morning flats trips and on targeting snook on dock lights. It should be a great month.

See you on the water soon!

Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing
Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Sarasota, FL