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May 05, 2010

14 of the World's Top Tarpon Spots

14 top spots to fish for tarpon, from Mexico to Africa

These spots are numbered only for convenience of locating each per the map and in no way reflect any attempt at a numerical ranking. These are all world-class places to fish tarpon. -- Ed.

Welcome to the tarpon's world - estuaries and near-coastal waters off river mouths and beaches, and in channels, passes and bays on both sides of the Atlantic. All those habitats are represented in these great spots to catch the legendary silver king. This list isn't inclusive, but it offers a look at many of the world's top bets for great tarpon fishing and may offer some ideas for where to plan your next trip to take on one of the world's top game fishes by any measure.

1. Boca Grande, Florida

The Famed Pass and So Much More

The high-visibility fishery in famed Boca Grande Pass is a great show but hardly the only one in town for tarpon enthusiasts. Certainly, drifting through the deep pass and slowly working jigs produce loads of fish in this tarpon-rich area. But in fact, tarpon swarm around Boca Grande Island and the entire Charlotte Harbor area from April through October (May through September is peak). Tarpon-guide emeritus here, Capt. Mark Bennett, years ago stopped fishing the pass in favor of the clear, shallow waters in bays, flats, backcountry estuaries and off beaches. The pass itself still offers some incredible fishing, but you must often be able and willing to fight for elbowroom. The gunwale-to-gunwale throngs of boats of all sizes and shapes that stretch across the path make for a unique experience, variously harrowing and exhilarating, particularly when several large tarpon begin jumping simultaneously among (and sometimes right into) the boats. Suffusing the waters well away from the pass are the same big (80- to 120-pound) silver kings, with some 200-plus fish definitely around. If sight-casting to fish that size doesn't send your heart racing, better check for a pulse. Clearly, the Boca area is a great venue for fly-rodders as well as anglers throwing artificials such as MirrOlures, D.O.A. Baitbusters, Hogys and the like; still, live crabs, threadfin, pilchards and pinfish are tough to beat. Plenty of ops for inshore slams abound, with snook, redfish and seatrout in great supply. The closest major airport is Fort Myers; places to stay and eat and things to do are all pretty much unlimited. For more information, visit