15 Minutes With Captain Ross Gallagher
What we learned….
Location: Coastal Florida Beaches and Passes
Tides: Tarpon can feed on very specific tide phases depending on location. Generally, the first hour or two of a tide change are the most productive. Waiting out these feeding periods can require a lot of patience, but fishing can be outstanding when the bite turns on.
Approach: This technique is best used when large groups of tarpon are present. These fish can be located visually on the surface. It’s hard to miss a large pod of tarpon circling and grey hounding on the surface. Big schools of tarpon tend to congregate in specific locations every season at the same time. Most deep water passes and inlets will hold groups of tarpon at some point during the late spring through fall.
Rigging Selection: Hogy 10/0 Barbarian Series Jig Heads are the best choice for long distance casting to pressured fish. They offer a high hookup ratio and feature 3X hooks capable of landing very large fish.
Why this bait? The large profile and heavy weight of the soft bait allow for extreme casting distance to weary fish. The straight, serpentine tail of the HDUV Eel has a unique, natural swimming motion when brought in on a straight retrieve. This characteristic is important for daytime tarpon, as they like to track a natural looking bait for several yards before committing to strike.
Colors: HDUV Black/Purple Flake is very effective on tarpon. It doesn’t really imitate any specific forage that we’ve found. Our guess is that it imitates an attractive bait silhouette. It’s our #1 selling and producing color for Tarpon Captains. HDUV Bone/Silver Flake can also work well in the same scenario.
Retrieve: Incredibly, the technique utilized for these deep water tarpon is very simple. A moderate fast to very fast straight retrieve is all that is needed. When this bait combination is retrieved in this fashion, the forward portion of the soft baits remains rigid, while the tail erratically dances due to the high speed. It’s a very convincing imitator of a large, fleeing bait fish.
It’s very important to follow the fundamentals of proper tarpon presentation for success. These following tips are crucial to hooking up on pressured fish. Tarpon become very finicky and temperamental during periods of high fishing pressures. During these times, getting a bite can be difficult on lures, live and dead baits. Following these instructions greatly increases your odds of connecting with the Silver King.
TOP 6 TIPS FOR DEEP WATER TARPON
- SLOW AND STEADY APPROACH: Never plow towards a school of fish with your outboard. It will quickly push down the school and they will quit biting. Using a trolling motor is a much more effective and subtle presentation.
- DON’T JERK THE THROTTLE: If you need to use an outboard, idle towards the fish without changing your RPM’s as you close in. Changing throttle speed can quickly and push down the school.
- ANGLE IS EVERYTHING: Wait to cast towards the school until you are able to lead the fish and make a cast between 60-90 degrees across the school. Tarpon will rarely attack a lure casted directly at them, or retrieved through them. Patiently waiting for a proper cast will vastly increase your odds of success.
- LIGHT LEADERS: Use a long leader and drop down to 50lb Fluorocarbon. You’ll need to retie after each fish, but there can be a very noticeable bite difference between using 50lb and heavier leaders. The long length of the Barbarian Jig Head help protect your leader from chafe.
- LONG DISTANCE CASTING: This tip goes with the slow approach. With the proper tackle, it’s possible to launch the lure upwards of 50 yards. Staying a maximum distance away from the school with keep them in a happier mood longer.
- PLAN YOUR DRIFT: Use the wind/tide toward your advantage. Get well ahead of a moving school and anticipate the direction of your drift to make a proper approach. Power down the outboard and keep deck noise to a minimum.
Reel: Shimano Sustain 10k
Line: 50lb Power Pro Braid
Leader: Start with 50lb Fluorocarbon and move up to 80lb if fish are feeding aggressively.