Bow to the King

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Within the next six weeks, reports of migrating tarpon will be whispered across the proverbial coconut telegraph primarily from the Keys and Everglades National Park. Warm days in March seem to invite the annual run into state waters, and from then on tarpon fever will spread northward along both coasts through August as the waters warm.

Is there a more sublime species than tarpon in this great state's waters? I don't think so. There certainly isn't a more challenging fish to catch.

Top spots to intercept tarpon include both the Florida Bay and oceanside waters surrounding the Florida Keys, from March through August, though there are always some fish present. The fish push into Biscayne Bay a little later in the spring, migrating northward through Palm Beach County and Stuart by late May or early June. They push on up through the Space Coast and First Coast into the summer.

Along the Gulf Coast, guides begin the tarpon stakeout near Everglades City in the early spring. The fish migrate north into the Boca Grande area, Tampa Bay and beyond. Homasssa Springs is the Gulf Coast tarpon Mecca. Northwest Florida has a fairly newly discovered fishery that's great in the summertime.

Just getting a tarpon to bite a fly or lure is a feat. And there are few fish so adept at shaking a hook. If I have one piece of advice to give, it's "bow to the king." When the fish jumps, squat and point the rod down into the water. This throws slack into the line, lessening the chance that the fish will land on the line and break it. It also lessens the odds of you pulling the hook free as the fish shakes its head in the air.

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