AMI Excursions Anna Maria Island Fishing Charters with Captain Nate Costello
AMI Charters for Peak Tarpon Season with AMI Excursions and Captain Nate Costello

AMI Charters for Peak Tarpon Season

There’s no place else I’d rather be in the world than in Anna Maria Island, Florida, fishing for tarpon.

A few months ago we highlighted tarpon and their general behavior in Sarasota Bay and the surrounding waters during the spring. But now things are really heating up—not just in temperature, but in tarpon energy and tarpon business for AMI charters.

Welcome to peak tarpon season, 2024.

Today I’m going to give you a few more tarpon details, so that when you set out with AMI Excursions and me, Captain Nate, you’ll have a better idea of what we’re doing and why.

Why are tarpon so active in Sarasota Bay and Longboat Pass in May, June, and July?

Tarpon start moving into the AMI area in springtime, as soon as the water starts to warm up. Historically, we can still expect a few cold snaps in Sarasota-Bradenton through April. Those snaps keep the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay and the Intracoastal from getting warmer faster.

But more recently we’ve been trending toward fewer cold snaps and higher average temperatures earlier in the year. In 2024, our heat index has already been pushing 100 degrees in mid-May. And at this point, we don’t expect any more cool days (or even nights) until late September at the earliest.

It may be hard for us, but tarpon love these warm waters. They don’t want to be anywhere where the water dips below 75 degrees. It may have been cooler on and off earlier in the spring, but right now, all the waters in our area are consistently at about 77 degrees and trending warmer the more we march into summer. Tarpon are loving it.

Is Anna Maria Island a highly rated spot for tarpon?

Yes, and here’s why. Not only do we have the warm waters, but we have the whole huge expanse of Sarasota Bay (as well as Palma Sola Bay) and surrounding water to host a tone of these fish. Sarasota Bay and its sandy spots and numerous grass flats is a renowned habitat—not to mention nursery—for all sorts of sea life, especially the crustaceans and pinfish that tarpon love to eat.

North of Anna Maria Island is Tampa Bay—another easily accessible spot for fish as well as fishermen—and to the immediate south we have Longboat Pass, a strong, narrow straight that these fish absolutely adore. As I mentioned in our previous tarpon blog, tarpon love to live in shallow spots and make daily trips out to the Gulf to spawn. So these passes between islands are the gateways to Tarpon Town.

Need more proof? The World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament has been taking place just south of us, in late May, for more than 40 years.

Tarpon are bigger, stronger, harder to catch and more spectacular to see than you can imagine.

Getting a hit from a tarpon is easy enough, but setting the hook, fighting the fish, maintaining your catch, and reeling it all the way until it gets to the side of the boat are a whole other set of challenges. But if you get one on the line, they can certainly put on a show even while they try to drag you and the whole boat out to sea.

Tarpon have boney mouths that are hard to set a hook in, so you have to be patient when you feel them. Tarpon can also take in air even when they’re out of the water, which helps them maintain the fight and also encourages hooked tarpon to jump spectacularly up out of the water while they try to get away.

Our tarpon bring all the sharks to the yard.

Another fun bit of tarpon awareness: Not only is it illegal to take home a tarpon in most circumstances, but these exceptional sport fish are just terrible for eating. They’re filled with teeny tiny bones and they’re fishy as heck. On the other hand, sharks love them. So if you’re the kind of person who gets excited about spotting a hammerhead or a bull shark, then an Anna Maria Island fishing charter boat during tarpon season is the place to do it.

Book your Anna Maria Island charter trip now, and we’ll have all this and more to talk about! That is, in between tarpon strikes and jumps.

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Article Written By

Nate Costello

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