If you’re seeking a thrill, look no further than the Boca Grande Pass: a spot in the Gulf of Mexico that has been dubbed the holy grail of tarpon fishing. Located in Southwest Florida, this slice of the gulf is approximately the size of 3 football fields and intersects with an underwater “highway” for tarpon migration.
Did we mention tarpon season is now in session? The early season spans through April and May when the water is warm and these massive fish are on the move. If you’re into sports fishing, you won’t want to miss this adrenaline rush. Boca Grande Pass offers angling thrills you won’t soon forget.
A “Reel” Adventure for Sports Fishing Enthusiasts
If you know anything about tarpon fishing, it’s that these fellas put up a hell of a fight. Getting one to bite is the easy part. Once an experienced angler hooks one of these bad boys, he or she can expect an average of 25 minutes or more of intense reeling before you boat one. It only makes sense when you consider a small tarpon weighs in at about 120 pounds. A good catch may weigh up to 220 pounds or more, making it a wrestling match that will have you on the edge of your seat.
If that’s not exciting enough, let’s throw some sharks into the mix. The Boca Grande Pass is also no stranger to hammerheads and bull sharks, both of which have a taste for fresh tarpon. Sports fisherman shouldn’t be surprised if they’re reeling one in only to suddenly engage in tug of war against a shark looking to take a bite out of their catch.
Tarpon Time: When to Go Fishing and Where
Okay, so you know Boca Grande Pass is the spot to check out, but sometimes when a spot is too popular it can turn a great fishing excursion south. If you’re planning to hit up Boca Grande Pass or any popular tarpon fishing spot, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Go on a weekday. If you want to make the most out of your trip, try planning it on a weekday instead. Most big events like tournaments are held on weekends. It’s also the time when most people are off work and looking to have some fun. However, on weekdays you can expect to share the waters with anywhere between 15 to 30 boats. That leaves you with more space to fish and better odds of scoring that big catch!
Tarpon Fishing is Best in Warm Weather. You’d be surprised how quickly these fish disappear when the water gets cold. Plan ahead and make sure you start casting on a day when the weather is warm and fair. Tarpon are more active in this kind of weather.
Consider the Crab Flush. The early season (April - May) is a popular time for tarpon fishing. However, between May and July the Florida’s west coast experiences a “crab flush”. This is when more water is pushed from the estuaries into the ocean, causing the tides to push the crabs out of the flats and into the Boca Grande. This is like a buffet for tarpon, increasing your odds of catching one.
Why Boca Grande Pass is the “Tarpon Capital of the World”
Situated at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, the Boca Grande Pass isn’t just “the” spot for fishing in Southwest Florida. It’s made a name for itself, attracting fishermen from all over the state, and even beyond.
With an average depth between 70 and 80 feet, its overlap of the tarpon migration pattern and the mid-season crab flush that serves as a buffet for hungry fish make your odds of catching one on a warm, clear day nearly guaranteed.