3/14/13 Islamorada tarpon fishing and backcountry report

Well last night took my first official evening tarpon fishing trip in Islamorada.  Not ideal conditions with the breezy north wind and impending cold front, though luckily the water temperatures did not drop too drastically and had time to warm during the day.  Anyways had all different kinds of baits – big shrimp, cigar minnows, crabs, and pinfish.  We drifted the local channels for some tarpon in islamorada.  I had seen several there days before, though early in the afternoon not much activity.  We stopped near one of the bridges and I saw a fish roll, we set up our anchor and drifted baits back towards the bridge.  We had a couple bites, one on cigar minnow and one on shrimp.  Not sure what the shrimp bite was but likely a tarpon as it pulled drag for several seconds.  The cigar minnow definitely was a tarpon but didn’t get a hook set.  We did end up catching a legal gag grouper and nurse shark off the bottom to keep busy.  March tarpon fishing Islamorada is just like any other time, around sunset can be your best bet for good bites.  We ran further back to catch the end of the falling tide in one of the channels.  Again saw fish roll right as we made our first drift, a welcome sign!  After a couple more drifts we finally hooked up on a live crab around 7:30.  After a 20 minute battle we had a nice 75 lb fish to the boat, just in time to make our way back home on our florida keys night tarpon fishing charter!

Today we fished in the backcountry for a half day, the winds were way up 20+mph out of the north.  Pretty chilly too but not brutally cold.  Not many options but we ran and hid behind some of the islands and caught some nice mangrove snappers.  Got our limit of nice 12+ inchers, including this nice 17 inch fish which for the backcountry is gigantic!  After that we tried to find some muds in the bay for trout/ladyfish/etc… but it was tough to fish in the bay as it was so rough, we anchored down in a muddy area and did catch half a dozen big ladyfish for something different before heading home.  Islamorada mangrove snapper fishing is one of the best bets for edible tablefare in the backcountry, and they can be caught almost any day even when its blowing and nasty.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk