This is the month summer settles in, bringing hot, humid days and afternoon thunderstorms. It's a good month to fish or for boating in general, just make sure you plan accordingly to ensure an enjoyable day.
June is a top month for hooking a tarpon, they are often most active in the mornings when the sun hits the horizon. A calm summer morning is a great time to get up early and watch the sun rise while chasing active tarpon schools off the beaches. They might feed off and on throughout the day. Late afternoon into the evening is a great time, and many anglers prefer to target tarpon after the sun sets. One thing for sure, you never know when they will be feeding, but I guarantee you will not hook one if you're not fishing.
Over the past week, tarpon were reported along the beaches from Sanibel to Boca Grande Pass. Off the Knapp's Point area of Sanibel, tarpon were found in depths from 17 to 30 feet, where live Atlantic thread herring was the best bait. To the north from Blind Pass up to the northern end of Cayo Costa, most tarpon were hooked on crabs a short distance off the beach. In and around Boca Grande Pass, hook-ups came from live thread herring, pinfish and squirrel fish, plus pass crabs on the late afternoon and evening hill tides.
Frederik Hansen came all the way from Denmark to catch his first tarpon. He hooked it on a live thread herring in Charlotte Harbor fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
In Pine Island Sound, groups of tarpon were found south of the fish shacks, north of Captiva Pass and just inside Redfish and Captiva passes. Floating grass was real bad in many areas of the sound making it difficult for live baiting; often anchoring and dead bait fishing was a better choice. One problem many anglers shared was an overabundance of small blacktip sharks. It seemed anywhere there were tarpon, there were way more blacktips, and very aggressive. Most were 3 feet or smaller, not much of a fight on heavy tarpon gear, but an absolute blast on light tackle. A few tarpon hook-ups were also reported at night from the Matlacha Bridge.
Keep an eye open for big sharks - bulls inshore and bulls and hammerheads offshore, and the passes. They are following the tarpon schools then target a tired hooked fish for an easy meal. If you hook into a tarpon, make the fight as short as possible, a heavy drag while applying lots of pressure will get the big fish boat side for a faster release, and hopefully prevent it from becoming shark bait.
As the days heat up, it's imperative to keep hydrated. And no, beer is not a good choice. Any alcohol product has a negative effect; you will actually become dehydrated quicker. It's hard to beat good old water, bring more than you think you might need, and drink often. When you're fighting a big fish (tarpon) for an extended time, it's easy to get caught in the moment and before you realize it you're feeling the effects of dehydration. Save the beer for the after-the-catch celebration. Kids especially need to drink fluids often, they have less body mass than adults and expel a lot of energy.
To make sure your day on the water is enjoyable from start to finish, keep an eye on the sky and watch for those afternoon thunderstorms. It's never any fun to get caught on the water in a storm, especially with women and children on board. It can quickly ruin a great day, plus some of these storms produce extremely strong winds and dangerous lightning. By using a little common sense and watching the sky you can be back in port ahead of any storms and keep a smile on everyone's face.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.