Targeted Species: Tarpon
Location: Logan Godby is from the Melbourne Beach area in Florida, but his fishing radius extends from Satellite Beach to Jensen Beach. Since he doesn’t have a boat at the moment, he predominantly fishes from shore, sometimes targeting and following schools of fish that take him miles up the shoreline on foot. When he says he runs the beach looking for these fish, he is not exaggerating.
If you are targeting Tarpon from shore, Logan recommends that you pack light. He keeps a few Hogy Lures in his backpack as well as pliers, line tensioners, leader material, a tape measure and of course, his outfit.
“Sometimes these schools of fish can take you as far as 15-miles in a day and sometimes, they don’t move more than 200-yards,” Logan said. “When you’re travelling with schooling Tarpon, be prepared to walk and make their migration with them.”
Tides: Fishing only becomes tide dependent when the bait seeks refuge in shallow water and the big fish can’t get to them. In some locations, the tidal movement is totally irrelevant and, in some locations, it’s extremely critical.
Approach: Logan will identify migrating beach fish by spotting bait, such as glass minnows or mullet, and birds working the surface. Once he has located a promising school, he will try to identify their feeding pattern. If he notices the fish are targeting a specific profile, he will choose a lure that emulates the bait fish they are feeding on. Optimistically, they are feeding aggressively in bucket style fashion in a method that Logan describes as “eyes closed, mouths open,” despite the anatomical discrepancy that fish can’t close their eyes. The point being, there is so much bait that they are mindlessly consuming.
“Typically, I will try to identically match what they are feeding on or select a lure that is the immediate contrast to the profile or color,” Logan said. “If they are feeding on tiny glass minnows, sometimes I will throw a big, black and purple Hogy Pro tail paddle that emulates the color pattern but contrasts the profile size.”
The goal is to make the bait fish appear as it if is part of the school, but carry a contrasting attribute that allows the animal to target that specific profile amongst the clouds of millions of bait fish.
Logan has a few theories as to why this size and coloration works the best for the glass minnow run but his primary thought is that this size “bait fish” is worth more bang for their [tarpon] buck which is why they’ll target it.
The target months for these trophy beach tarpon usually runs from July through August, with a few beach tarpon occasionally being caught off season. Juvenile tarpon can also be caught year round in Melbourne, Florida.
Rigging/Lure Selection: Hogy 3oz 6.5-inch Pro Tail Paddle
Why This Bait? Logan advises that it’s best to choose a lure and a coloration that you feel the most comfortable with, which is part of the reason why he consistently fishes Hogy products.
During the glass minnow run, Logan often chooses black/purple because it most similarly imitates the shape and shadow of the grouping of fish they would target and it stands out in size compared to the millions of 2-inch long glass minnows they’re often keyed in on. The green and white pattern is also extremely successful on the east coast of Florida. The pattern very closely emulates the Atlantic threadfin, another popular bait that schools along the beaches.
Colors: Black/purple or green/pilchard or grey/black
Retrieve: Logan begins by casting over the school and trying to bring the lure around the contour of the schooling bait. On the boundary line of the school is where he finds the most success or right in the center of a multiple fish blow up.
“It’s absolute chaos when they are feeding,” Logan said. “It feels like the rod is getting ripped out of your hands on the initial hit.”
Being prepared for the initial hit is arguably one of the most important factors when targeting tarpon. They have very cartilaginous mouths and it’s important that the drag is set very high, with 15 to 30lbs of drag depending on the set up. On the first hook set, you want to make sure the hook fully penetrates their mouth. Lock the drag and hold on.
“This is a very specific technique that must be implemented to land these beach giants,” Logan said. “We have all heard about bowing to the silver kings, but with big fish and high drag, it is even more critical to be cognizant of their jumps and runs.”
It is very important for the fight to be over quickly and the tarpon are safely captured and released. Some of the fish that are being caught are between 50 and 70-years old and the last thing a good angler wants to do is over stress them.
“During peak months, it is not uncommon to see a dead tarpon on the beach,” Logan said. “In most instances, this could be avoided by using the proper equipment, implementing proper landing techniques and fully reviving the animal prior to release.”
Logan continued that the Hogy hooks are very easy to remove while swimming with the fish and provide the safest release both to the animal and the angler.
Rod: St. Croix Legen Surf, 11’, medium/heavy
Reel: Shimano Stella 1400
Line: Suffix 50 to 65lb braid is the most successful in getting them in quickly, according to Logan. He has friends that fish the Suffix 832 from 30 to 65lb but the 50lb is the sweet spot for being able to not lose your casting distance and having significant reliability for the fight.
Leader: Momoi’s Hi-Catch Diamond Fluorocarbon (100lb test). This brand is great for abrasion resistance as Tarpon have abrasive pads on their upper and lower jaw. The fight can take time and wear through the leader but Logan has had no problems with the 100lb fluorocarbon line he often uses. It’s roughly $100 for a spool but Logan finds that it will last him about 2 seasons. When it comes to choosing the proper leader length, Logan will choose a leader that is the same length as the fish he is targeting. When the lure is in it’s mouth, he wants the leader to run along the length of their body if they were to turn.
Logan doesn’t use any terminal gear when attaching his line to his leader or his leader to his lure. He ties straight from his running line to his leader material with an FG knot, which is a common knot for tying smaller running lines to larger diameter leader material.
“Your knots are absolutely critical in being able to effectively entice and land these fish,” Logan said. “I inspect my entire set up and pre-tension all of my knots prior to getting out on the beach; one small fray in the line or an incorrectly synched knot could result in losing the fish of a life time.”
For the leader to the lure knot, Logan uses a loop knot that he has found to be the most successful when using any lure that provides significant action on the straight retrieve. According to Logan and experiences anglers alike, the loop knot provides additional degrees of freedom to allow the lure to get deeper head wobbles on the retrieve, maximizing the lure’s swimming performance.