Tarpon Fishing Shallow Flats & Bays

It’s hard to get more iconic in tarpon fishing than pursuing these fish in the super shallow, clear waters of South Florida. I’ve spent time poling along grass flats for these wary hunters from the Marquesas to Pine Island Sound. One thing has always been common: these fish are not happy to eat very often!

Between the deluge of boat traffic, sharks, greasy calm days and hull slap, pursing tarpon in clear skinny waters can be equally frustrating as it is awe inspiring. These shallow water migrations begin in late January to early February in the lower keys, primarily dependent on long stretches of warm weather and east or southerly winds. Early season opportunities can be few and far between, with the “official” start to the migration occurring sometime in March in the lower keys, then wandering its way northward on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts well into mid-summer.

How To Tarpon Fish Flats & Bays Hogy Lures

Notes: This is quite possibly the most exciting and iconic scenario for targeting tarpon. Anglers will need to utilize stealth, stalking and silence to maximize opportunities for success, as tarpon in shallow water will flee at the slightest unnatural vibration.

Go To Lures: Unweighted or lightly weighted Hogy Originals are ideal for working traditional tarpon migration routes along shallow grass flat pot holes and edges. On greasy calm days, smaller presentations like the 7-inch Original may be more productive. In windy conditions, the 10-inch Original’s larger profile offers a bigger target in the chop. Increased weight is also helpful for added casting distance. In weedy conditions, a Swim Bait Hook is preferred, while the Soft Circle Hook is ideal for clean water.

Methods: On sunny days, tarpon can be seen from a distance. Quietly poll or troll to position yourself well ahead of the incoming school. Anchor or stake out along side any sand bar, cut or edge the tarpon appear to be traveling along. Quietly wait until fish get into casting range, place an accurate cast across and in front of the lead fish. Work the soft bait with a slow twitch-pause or slow steady retrieve while keeping the rod tip low.

Tips: Color choice is pretty simple on the flats. In sunny conditions choose Bone or Bubblegum patterns, on overcast days or choppy days, Black is extremely effective.


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