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May 01, 2013

Key Largo Tarpon Invasion Underway

Spring migrations promise the year’s best sight-cast fishing

There’s no better time to tangle with tarpon around Key Largo than spring.

“It’s all about their spawning migration,” says Capt. Jorge Valverde (Low Places Guide Service, 954‑822‑0647), which can start as early as April and run into July.

That’s the time to look for groups of fish cruising up the coast, mostly on the ocean side (vs. Florida Bay, off the western side of the island). Valverde watches for tarpon over grass flats in water as shallow as two feet but also deeper areas, up to 20 feet deep or so.

When he does spot fish for his anglers, it might be a group of just a few — or a mob of 100. As the size of tarpon schools varies, so does the size of individual targets. Valverde says these fish will range from 10 pounds to well over 100.

“Some days, we might not see a fish,” he says. “Other days, we’ll see 200.”

Spin fishermen will hook up using crabs or shrimp, but most of Valverde’s business comes from fly guys who appreciate the outstanding sight-casting opportunities these clear waters provide. But even when larger groups of tarpon are spotted, plan on making long casts. The guide says that over the years (he’s been at this for quarter of a century), it’s gotten harder to fool the often spooky fish.

For more information on fishing Florida, go to Visit Florida.