By Misty Wells
Tarpon, also known as “Silver King,” are one of the most exciting and addictive fish to catch. The life span of a tarpon can be in excess of 50 years and they can reach sizes of up to eight feet and weigh in over 280 pounds! The hunt is on down the coast of Florida, a tarpon hotspot, where the season starts to heat up in March and the bite stays hot all the way through July.
Connect with a premiere tarpon guide such as Captain Lori Deaton of Lady Fish Charters and dramatically increase your chances of catching the big one. Captain Lori has been guiding anglers since 1999. “As a professional tarpon guide and tournament angler I feel blessed to call the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay and Boca Grande home,” said Deaton. “I take anglers from all over the world to fish prime tarpon estuaries in hopes of catching one of these amazing primitive creatures.”
After some practice, head to Fort Myers Beach and Boca Grande for some tarpon tango time! Both of these tournaments are catch-and-release events and are symbols for conservation, education and sportsmanship in the fishing community.
A 100 percent purse makes the “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament on Fort Myers Beach, May 6 to 7, one of the hottest competitions on the water. Head to Doc Ford’s Rum Bar to watch professional and amateur anglers compete to land the most tarpon in a day. Last year was a record-breaking purse of $25,375 paid to five of the 48 participating teams. The Fort Myers area is the Tarpon Capital of Florida, so pack your rod and get there quick!
Boca Grande’s World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, May 19 to 20, offers prize money totaling $80,000 with first place hooking $30,000. Anglers and spectators alike will get a big adrenalin rush from the excitement of big fish and big money! The largest tarpon caught during last year’s tournament was 217 pounds. It is estimated that over 5,000 tarpon are landed in Boca Grande Pass each season.
Keep up with all of the tarpon action in Florida by downloading the free fishing app, FishBrain, and follow your favorite anglers and species. For more information, visit bocagrandechamber.com, dingdarlingsociety.org/tarpon-tourney, fishbrain.com and ladyfishcharters.com.