Tarpon Fishing

Boca Grande / Charlotte Harbor,  Florida

Tarpon Fishing

Charlotte Harbor provides the best spring and early summer tarpon charter fishing in all of Florida. Huge concentrations of tarpon gather here prior to their offshore spawning migration. Once they have spawned they return to Charlotte Harbor to feed before moving onto their home waters for the summer months. Boca Grande is the best known tarpon fishing spot in Southwest Florida but there are miles of uncrowded fishing spots between Sanibel Island and Manasota Key. Pods of tarpon, some weighing well over 100 pounds cruise these areas daily. It's here where Capt. Dave operates his guide service. We fish for giant tarpon with 10-12 weight fly rods and 30 pound class spinning gear in three to twelve feet of water along the beaches from Cayo Costa to Stump Pass.

We cast flies, artificial lures, live crabs and baitfish to daisy chaining, laid up and rolling tarpon as they make their way to and from Boca Grande Pass.

Hill Tides

Every spring during new and full moons there is a phenomenon in Charlotte Harbor known as the "Hill Tides" the currents of the hill tides carry thousands of spawning crabs into the Gulf of Mexico through the passes. These "Pass Crabs" suspend in the upper part of the water column while being flushed out of the Harbor. Tarpon gorge themselves on the crabs while rolling and splashing on the surface.

This year's Hill Tides are: May 12-17 and 25-31 and June 8-14.

These are the absolute best times to fish for tarpon in Charlotte Harbor. However, anytime from mid-April through mid-June is considered prime tarpon time. Charlotte Harbor provides the best spring and early summer tarpon charter fishing in all of Florida. Huge concentrations of tarpon gather here prior to their offshore spawning migration. Once they have spawned they return to Charlotte Harbor to feed before moving onto their home waters for the summer months. Boca Grande is the best known tarpon fishing spot in Southwest Florida. There are miles of uncrowded fishing spots between Sanibel Island and Manasota Key. Pods of tarpon, some weighing well over 100 pounds cruise daily. It's here where Capt. Dave operates his guide service. We fish for giant tarpon with 10-12 weight fly rods and 30 pound class spinning gear in three to twelve feet of water along the beaches from Cayo Costa to Stump Pass. We cast flies, artificial lures, live crabs and baitfish to daisy chaining, laid up and rolling tarpon as they make their way to and from Boca Grande Pass.

Obsession Sportfishing Charters offers you a choice of guided tarpon charters: 

  • Four hour morning tarpon (April, May & June) $400 includes snacks and drinks.
  • Six hour tarpon (April, May & June) $550.

Jerry Crosses Tarpon off Bucket List

Jerry Jamison from Bath, Maine hooks and brings this nice tarpon boat-side using spin fishing gear and a live crab. Great Job Jerry!

The tarpon have returned to the beaches of Boca Grande, Captiva and Sanibel Islands after last week's back to back cold fonts pushed them offshore.

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Jerry Jamison with his First Charlotte Harbor Tarpon

​Last week's back to back cold fronts are behind us. The tarpon have returned to the beaches of Boca Grande and Captiva. Jerry did a great job hooking and getting his 75 pound tarpon to the boat on a live crab. Click read more for additional pictures. Video coming soon.  

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Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande, Pine Island Sound May Fishing Forecast

Charlotte Harbor is Florida’s second largest estuary encompassing 270 square miles. Over 80% of its shoreline is preserved land. There are more than 15 boat ramps and many kayak access point on the Harbor providing easy access to great fishing.

 

May light tackle and fly action: May is all about tarpon. The spawning migration has started and there have a few tarpon being caught in the Sounds, Passes and along beaches the past two weeks. By mid-month the fishing will be in high gear. The back country waters are in the low to mid 80s so the best fishing will be early and late in the day. Mid-day will provide lots of lookers and refusals unless you’re pitching bait. The large snook are moving their way to the beaches and the sounds.

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Conditions: We are settling into our early summer weather patterns with offshore winds early switching to sea breezes in the afternoons. Water temps will be in the low to mid 80s. April was very dry so the salinity in the lower harbor and the sounds are average or slightly above. The upper harbor fishing has slowed somewhat do the warm weather and lack of rain. Greatly reduced Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee River has improved the water quality in lower Pine Island Sound.

Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass, upper Pine Island Sound, Gasparilla sound and on Bokeelia Shoals. There’s lots of threadfins and greeenbacks on the beaches.

May Fishing Tactics: The back country; with the warm and dry conditions fishing becomes an early morning game. Go early fish the moving water near the mangroves until the sun gets up. As soon as it gets bright shift you attention to deeper cuts between islands and keys and the depressions in the mangrove creek mouths. The deeper edges of grass flats will hold sea trout throughout May.

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My April Fly Fishing Tip: Many of my clients want to fly fishing for tarpon in May. I carry two set ups on the boat for them. A floating line with a suspending fly for the fish coming over the shallow bars and a sink tip line with a weighted fly for when the fish are laid up or doing daisy chains in deeper water. prespawn tarpon can be finicky, the fly placement is key. Many times they will only move a few inches to eat.

My April Light Tackle Tip: Don’t get in a rut using a particular tarpon bait. Crabs are wonderful bait but if you are getting refused show them something else. Pinfish, whitebait, cut ladyfish, sail cat tails, even shrimp can turn on the finickiest tarpon.

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Species to fish for this month: Tarpon, Snook Redfish, Spotted Seatrout.

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Boca Grande Pass Tarpon Fishing - Why I don’t Partake

Many customers ask me if I guide for tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, I politely answer “no”. Then I go on to explain that I fish the miles and miles of beaches and, in the Sounds on both sides of Boca Pass but I do not participate in the fishery that takes place in the Pass. These two photos sum up the difference between what I do and what goes on in the Pass from mid-April through the end of June. I’ll take light tackle and fly fishing the 20 miles of beaches, Gasparilla Sound and Pine Island Sound over the parking lot that is the Pass thank you very much. Now, if you are interested in catching tarpon in the Pass I can give you some names of captains to contact. 

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save the tarpon photo of Boca Grande Pass

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A day on the Beach - Capt. Dave Pecci photo

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Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report April 18, 2016

Last Week - Excellent fishing! We had tons of fly and light tackle fishing action last week. And, this coming week will be just as good! I posted some killer video from last week's action, you can check them out on my blog's Florida Fishing Video section. There's over 30 videos posted.

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This week's Forecast

Conditions: Excellent all this coming week - Mid day high tides will provide moving water. Morning low tides will congregate the fish along the oyster beds and grass banks.

Species to fish for this coming week: Snook, Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Jack Crevalle, Tarpon, Ladyfish, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia.

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Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish, Scaled Sardines, Threadfin Herring

Fishing Tactics: Start early and fish the edges of oysters and grass for trout, snook and reds. As the tide comes in move onto the flats fishing the sand holes for trout and reds.

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My fly fishing tip of the week: Lots of white bait (sardines and herring) around so olive and white deceivers are the choice.

My spin fishing tip of the week: MirroLure suspending twitch baits are the lure of choice. 2nd choice would be a bubble gum or new penny soft bait on a ¼ once jig head.

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7 day outlook: Fantastic weather with light winds from the E and NE will provide excellent fishing. The snook, redfish and jack crevalle action will be very good this week.

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SW Florida - Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report April 11, 2016

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Conditions: Great weather this week will provide awesome fishing. We’ll have smaller incoming tides so the fish in the back country will be scattered. There will be moving water near all the passes which will help congregate fish making those areas better choices. Good water quality and salinity throughout most of Charlotte Harbor. Lower Pine Island Sound and Punta Rassa water conditions continue to improve.

Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook, Spanish Mackerel. There’s a few tarpon and cobia around mid-Harbor structure and the deep holes.

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Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass, Gasparilla sound, Upper Pine Island sound and on Bokeelia Shoals.

Fishing Tactics: Early morning low tides will expose the oyster beds and leave little water on the grass flats. Work the edges of both. Spotted sea trout and reds will be cruising there waiting for the tide to come in.

My fly fishing tip of the week: Look for moving water and bait. That’s where the fish will be this week due to lack of tide and current in their normal ambush spots. White bait and shrimp patterns are working best. Keep that 12Wt. rigged and ready for Mr. Tarpon - there here.

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My spin fishing tip of the week: The suspending twitch baits are still the hot lure. Keep some bite wire handy – the jacks and Spanish mackerel will cut you off. Have a heavy rod rigged with 60# leader and a DOA Baitbuster for that tarpon that just might roll next to the boat, it’s that time of year.

7 day outlook: Seasonal temps, light winds and sunny most of the week, there’s a chance of showers on Friday. Small incoming tides all week won’t provide much moving water in the back country.

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SW Florida - Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report April 4, 2016

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Conditions: Early morning low tides will provide great fishing along oyster beds, the edges of the grass flats and the deeper mangrove points. Water clarity and salinity continues to improve in lower Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. The rest of the Harbor has very good conditions and excellent fishing. Fishing pressure should be lower this week now that spring break is behind us.

 

Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Sea Trout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook, Spanish mackerel.

Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass, Gasparilla sound, Upper Pine Island sound and on Bokeelia Shoals.

Fishing Tactics: Look for moving water near structure. Snook, redfish and jacks lay in wait at these ambush points. As the tide reaches flood move to the edges of grass flats and fish the potholes for staged up reds and trout. At high tide snook and redfish will cruise the mangrove shadows looking for an afternoon snack.

My fly fishing tip of the week: Keep an 8 or 9 Wt. rod rigged with a wire bite tippet. There’s been several schools of jack crevalle and spanish mackerel throughout the Harbor. Also, it’s time to keep that rigged 11 or 12 Wt. tarpon rod with you. I’ve been seeing a few rollers in the deeper sections of the lower Harbor and upper Pine Island Sound.

My spin fishing tip of the week: Keep a rod rigged with a short wire leader for the spanish and jacks. Best offerings for these toothy critters are hard plastic swimming plugs, poppers and metal lures. The flashier the better.
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7 day outlook: Cooler temps and off-shore breezes until mid week. The wind will shift to on-shore Wednesday. A slight chance of showers on Wednesday evening and Thursday. Winds should be light to moderate all week. We’ll have morning incoming tides this week providing lots of moving water.

 

 

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Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report March 21, 2016

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Keven Stevens and Jason Webber with a nice Matlacha Redfish. Check out the video

Spring is here and the fishing is excellent. Water temps in the high 70s with good water clarity. Snook Reds and trout all eating flies and lures.

Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook, Tarpon

Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass and on Bokeelia Shoals.

With the clearer and warmer water tactics change to fishing moving water along the grass flats and sight fishing for reds and snook on the sandbars and oyster beds. The fish will be more aggressive but also a bit spookier. Stay back and make long casts, if you can see the fish – they can see you too.

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My fly fishing tip of the week: I get asked about bite tippet a lot – Use a minimum of 20# for smaller fish. 25#-30# for baby tarpon and snook. Always use fluorocarbon. Check the tippet after EVERY catch. Not just by sight, do a pull test.

My spin fishing tip of the week: Same holds true for spinning gear: 20# for the little guys and 25#-30# for biguns. Check the tippet after EVERY catch.

We'll see a cold front pass through the first of the week. Winds should settle down and the fishing will be good through the weekend.

 

There's been some 10-12 pound jack crevalle cruising the flats - keep a 10 wt rigged with a white bait fly!

Check out the latest videos posts!

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My version of the Schminnow

 

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The original Schminnow was created by Norn Zeigler a journalist and fly shop owner on Sanibel Island in 1995. It is a widely used fly throughout Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and most of Southwest Florida.

 

My version has a small Estaz body and tail of both bucktail and synthetics. I tie these flies with mono, bead chain or dumbbells eyes to allow them to be fished at varying depth. Hook size ranges from #2 to 1/0. The fly is easy to cast and fishes well at all retrieve rates. Though the Schminnow was designed to catch snook, it will catch seatrout, redfish, jacks, tarpon and even flounder. By the way, Maine striped bass and bluefish eat them too.  

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Custom Rod Box Makes Florida Fishing Charter Logistics Much Easier

I retired the ol' Yukon Denali and have a nice (newer) GMC crew cab pickup. Problem - no secured rod storage with a 5'-6" bed... Enters my friend Fred Bogue, a beach and jetty angler who has struggled for years just such a problem. Fred sent me a link to Big Sky Rod Box in MT. Great product and really nice folks but, it only holds up to 6 fly rods... Next I contacted my buddy and sales rep at Hammond Lumber; Matt Stelzer for a bit of brainstorming on available materials. After three days in my workshop here's the result.

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Constructed from metal roofing panels and aluminum angle over a 1/4" plywood substrate

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Weighs about 50 pounds and removes in minutes by undoing four U bolts.

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Holds 9 fully rigged rods up to 9'-6" long. Nicely cushioned cradles, watertight, ventilated and lockable. Even has enough room to accommodate my 8' one piece tarpon spinning rods.

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Summertime Tarpon and Snook Action Around Pine Island and Boca Grande

Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report June1st, 2015

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Conditions: Water temps have dropped a couple degrees with the showers and afternoon sea breezes. The back country fishing remains a bit slow, especially mid day. The beaches will be very active with tarpon and some big snook. Lots of skipjacks, greenback and threadfin herring on the beach. Some crabs in the passes.

Bait: Threadfin herring, greenback herring, ladyfish, skipjacks, crab

Species to target this week: Tarpon, Snook, Redfish

Fishing Tactics: Tarpon are cruising the beach in good numbers. Watch for rolling fish early and then sub surface pods from late morning on. The bite has only been for 20-30 minutes each tide so be persistent.

My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: Change flies after refusals and ignores. Crab and small streamers patterns are getting the most looks.

My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Crabs seem to be the most effective bait or lure right now. Use slow steady retrieves.

 

7 day outlook: Light easterly morning winds with an afternoon sea breeze will provide great morning fishing. Watch out for those afternoon thunderstorms. Beach tarpon and snook action will be good. Small snook and redfish will be feeding early and late in the day in the back country.

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Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report May 25th, 2015

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Conditions: Hot- Backcountry water temps from Matlacha to Gasparilla are now in the high 80s. The beaches from Boca Grande to Sanibel are in the mid 80s. Thunderstorms are common as the sea breeze builds in the afternoons. Higher water levels are putting the snook and redfish up under the mangroves for most of the day. The Tarpon are rolling early but are running deep as soon as the sun gets bright.

 Bait: threadfin herring, Green back Herring, pinfish, shrimp, crab

Species to target this week: Tarpon, Snook, Redfish

Fishing Tactics: Mid day fishing now is very slow due to the heat. So, it’s time to trade sight fishing for early and late day blind casting. Watch for nervous bait, muds and pushes along the mangroves. Tarpon will be moving through the passes early and late. Watch for cruising beach tarpon before and after slack tide.

My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: If the tarpon fishing is slow, spend some time fishing the troughs along the surf line for BIG snook. Small to medium sized whitebait patterns seem to be getting the attracting the most action.

My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Sluggos and Hogys rigged weedless are the hot setup for the mangroves right now for snook and redfish. Live crabs are working best on the beach for tarpon.

 7 day outlook: Moderate easterly and northeasterly winds giving way to the sea breeze will build afternoon thunderstorms. There will be good water flow on the beaches and in the mangroves all week. The redfish and smaller snook will be active early and late in the day. Tarpon are in good numbers both on the beaches and in Pine Island Sound but will be running deep mid day.  

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Fred’s Boca Grande Tarpon Odyssey.

Fred Bogue from New Jersey went 8-4-3 on tarpon this week. We were spin fishing off the beaches of Gasparilla, Boca Grande and Captiva. Safe travels home Fed, Great fishing with you again this year.

Big thanks to Sara for holding down the fort back home while some untimely home insurance repairs were being done during Fred’s tarpon odyssey. 

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Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report May 18th, 2015

A couple pics from this week’s tarpon action

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Conditions: The tarpon are cruising the beaches with steady action other than slack tide. No big wind or heavy rain is forecasted so the fishing should remain good. There are a few big snook in the troughs and on the bars just off the breakers.

Bait: threadfin herring, Green back Herring, pinfish, shrimp, crab

Species to target this week: Tarpon, Snook

Fishing Tactics: Watch for pods of tarpon moving up and down the beach. If the action is slow move your attention to the Sounds.

My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: We have had good luck sight fishing for tarpon along the beaches off Gasparilla and Captiva islands in 6-10 feet of water. If you get refused change your fly.

My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Live crabs have been hot this past week. Stay back from the pods as far as you can and make long casts.

7 day outlook: Chance of showers mid-week. Onshore winds could make for tuff beach fishing. But there are tarpon moving throughout Pine Island and Gasparilla sounds. Water temps are in the mid eighties, watch for rolling fish, they’ll be gulping air in this heat.

 

 

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Fly Fishing For Snook and Tarpon With Folks from Orvis

This past week I had the pleasure of fishing with Jen Lofgren the store manager of Orvis, Cherry Creek in Denver, CO and Jason Cooper, fishing manager of Orvis Bellevue near Seattle WA. It was great getting to know these hard working and knowledgeable folks while fly fishing along the Gulf beaches of Pine Island and Gasparilla Sounds’ barrier islands. We had light winds, temps in the 90s and steady tarpon and snook action.

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Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report May 11th, 2015

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Conditions: The big wind and seas have subsided, the tarpon have returned to the beaches outside of Pine Island and Gasparilla Sounds.

 

Bait: threadfin herring, Green back Herring, pinfish, shrimp, crab

Species to target this week: Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Seatrout, Jack Crevalle

Fishing Tactics: The backcountry fishing as slowed up a bit but the sounds and beaches are producing. Go early and work the troughs and edges until the light get good for sight casting.

My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: There’s a lot of Pilchards and threadfins on the beaches… If your favorite pattern is not working swap to a whitebait imitation.

My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Its tarpon time – lube your reel service your drag and pull test your knots.

 

7 day outlook: Tides will be close to neap early in the week with good flow returning by the weekend. Light to moderate east winds will provide for excellent beach tarpon and snook fishing. Watch for those afternoon thunderstorms.

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May Tarpon Fishing Charters in Charlotte Harbor / Boca Grande / Pine Island Sound

Tarpon have arrived in Charlotte Harbor/ Boca Grande / Pine Island Sound. The next six week will provide the best tarpon light tackle and fly fishing action in Florida. I have some open charter dates, call / text 207-841-1444 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today for availablity.

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Short Tarpon Fishing Video

Full length version

Just under a minute of crazy 80 pound tarpon action. Caught with light tackle spinning gear using a live crab on the beach off Pine Island Sound's barrier Islands.

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Captiva and Sanibel Islands Light Tackle Tarpon Fishing

Chris from Arcadia, FL and his buddy Mike from LeBelle, FL had a fun morning tarpon fishing on the beaches off Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound. Flat calm conditions, only three other skiffs in sight and happy tarpon for two hours made for trip to remember for a long time. The spawning migration has started and the next 6 weeks will provide world-class fishing here in Southwest Florida.   

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Captiva / Sanibel Island Tarpon Fishing

Chris From the Razzor Ranch in Zolfo Springs and his long time friend Mike had a great day of light tackle tarpon fishing off Captiva and Sanibel Islands. Perfect conditions and only three other skiffs in sight. We fished on pods of happy tarpon for two hours. By the way, the Razzor Ranch puts on a great hog hunt, I went there a couple weeks ago with my buddy Greg Straut and had an excellent time. 

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Tarpon Prime Time is here, I have openings in May, airfair and rooms are now at off season rates! FMI go to the rates and resevation page

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